The Centre said it was studying the implications of the Australian government’s decision to scrap a visa programme that will give benefit to Indians, and warned that the move could have an impact on negotiations on the free trade agreement – Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreements (CECA) – between both countries.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that he was scrapping the Australian “457” visa programme that allowed Australian companies to hire Indians in a number of the skilled job. Mr. Turnbull said he would in due course replace the program with a more stringent system, making it more difficult for companies to hire non-Australian workers must have priority for Australian jobs” adding “We will no longer allow 457 visas to be passports to jobs that could go to Australians.”
The announcement appeared to have taken New Delhi by surprise, especially given that Mr. Turnbull had visited India only last week. Although the combined statement issued by India and Australia after the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mr. Turnbull on April 10 spoke about cooperating to stop “illegal migration”, it gave no indication that the two sides had discussed the proposed measure to scrap the skilled worker visa programme in favour of a stricter visa regime.
India provides the highest number of temporary skilled workers to Australia of any country; eight out of the top 10 occupations for Indian 457 visa holders were IT professionals, referring to the fact that Indians are the major beneficiaries of the programme, accounting for 25% of those receiving 457 visas.
According to the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Indians constituted 76% of the total ‘457’ visas issued in the three IT streams and 57% of permanent migrant visas issued in the skilled stream of workers last year.
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