Australia visa changes not directed at India: High Commissioner

Sidhu said the 457 visa policy could impact only on the temporary work visas.

The Dollar Business Bureau

Australia on Tuesday said that the changes done in the country’s work visa rules were not directed at any particular country and emphasised that Indian workers are not expected to be affected significantly by the changes in the regime. 

Harinder Sidhu, Australian High Commissioner to India said that the modifications in the visa regime were made to make sure that Australian citizens get priority in skilled jobs, while Indians are majorly employed in highly-skilled jobs of IT sector in which her country does not have enough manpower.

Interacting with the journalists in New Delhi, the High Commissioner also asserted that the bilateral relations between India and Australia have witnessed a "stable upward trajectory" and the recent visit of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to India has given a fresh momentum to the ties. 

“Australia has a diaspora from over 120 countries. The visa restrictions are just to maintain the country’s integrity and not intended for any nation, including India,” she said. 

Last month, Australia had announced that it would scrap the 457 work visa popular among the foreign workers, to cope with the increasing unemployment in Australia and to replace it with a new regime that requires higher proficiency of English language and better job skills. 

“I cannot categorically tell you what will happen in the future. We constantly reviewed our visa regime, there is a constant change.... And, as far as the 457 visa (skilled temporary overseas workers) is concerned, we just want to see, if that job can be done by an Australian, before one employs someone from outside,” she said.

“However, in the field of IT, we are in short supply of skills. And, we are expecting that Indians will continue to qualify,” Sidhu said. 

Last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had raised India’s concerns with his Australian counterpart about the impact of scrapping the popular work visa. 

Sidhu said that the 457 visa policy could impact only on the temporary work visas. However, the number of students from India and permanent migrants is constantly increasing. 

In 2016, around 2,80,000 Indians were awarded Australian visas. The number of visas for education increased dramatically. Around 46,000 visas were issued to Indian students in 2014, 53,000 students got visas in 2015 and this number increased to over 60,000 in 2016. 

The Dollar Business Bureau - May 10, 2017 12:00 IST