Lack Of Market Tests Led To 457 Visa Surge

Limited labour market testing has led to a large increase in 457 visa applications not being ­approved, while thousands of foreign workers would not have gained visas if the regime were more broadly applied.

The Australian, by Ewin Hannan, 13 August 2014

Analysis by the nation’s construction union of the Abbott government’s labour market testing system has found the non-approval rate for 457 visas has risen between 7 and 9 per cent in occupations where the requirement applies. Based on government figures, the union found that if labour market testing had been in force in 2012-13, about 3520 nominations for 457 visas would not have been approved.

It also found that if labour market testing had been expanded to apply across all 457 occupations last financial year about 3130 nominations — or 9.2 per cent — would not have won approval.

Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union national secretary Michael O’Connor said the limited labour market testing had resulted in Australians getting jobs that would otherwise be filled by foreign employees.

Mr O’Connor said the analysis showed labour market testing should be applied across all occupations

However, the union is concerned that loopholes in the ­labour market testing rules were allowing employers to access 457 visas when Australian workers were available. More than 60 per cent of the 3323 457 visas granted since November last year and subject to labour market testing went to foreign nationals already in Australia.

In skill level 3 occupations, which are mostly trades, 45 per cent of all 457 visa granted were in occupations not on the national shortage list.

The proportion of 457 visa grants going to foreign nationals already in Australia rose from 52 per cent before labour market testing to 67 per cent after the rules came in.

The onshore share is highest in the construction trades where a record 85 per cent of 457 visa grants were going to foreign nationals already in Australia, compared with 75 per cent when the system was not in operation.

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