Budget 2013-14 - Immigration Announcements
By Mark Webster
Wednesday, 15 May 2013
The main announcements are:
- The application fee for a 457 visa will increase by 98% from $455 to $900
- Fair Work inspectors will be able to monitor 457 employer for compliance with market rate salary and position requirements
- The Migration Program will remain at 190,000 places for 2013-14, with 700 additional places to the family stream, and 700 less places in the skilled stream
- The Humanitarian Program will increase from 13,750 places to 20,000 with additional costs of $2.3 billion over the next 4 years
- The working holiday program will be increased for Malaysian and Indonesian nationals
Increase to 457 Application FeesThe cost of applying for a 457 visa will increase from $455 to $900 from 1 July 2013. The increase is forecast to contribute an additional $198 million to government revenues over the next 4 years. No explanation or justification is provided in the budget papers for the increase.
Since Labour was elected in 2007, 457 application fees have been increasing at a rate of some 25% per annum. If fees were to continue increasing at this rate, the fee will be $3,415 by 2020.
Under the previous government, fees increased at 3.5% per annum - in line with inflation. At this rate of increase, the application fee for a 457 visa would have been $240 by 2014 and $295 by 2020.
The Department of Immigration had previously announced that additional fees will be payable from 1 July as part of their Visa Pricing Transformation Strategy for:
- Additional dependent visa holders; and
- Longer stay 457 visas
Fair Work Ombudsman to Assist in Monitoring of 457 SponsorsFair Work Australia inspectors will be given additional powers to monitor 457 sponsors. They will be given powers to assess:
- Whether 457 visa holders are being paid at the market rate; and
- Whether the job being done by the 457 employee matches the job title and description stated in the 457 nomination
The intention of these changes is to address perceived "rorting" of the 457 program, and we expect further 457 compliance measures be introduced to the 457 program in July 2013.
Migration Program Planning LevelThe migration program will be set at 190,000 places for 2013-14, similar to the level for 2012-13.
There will be an increase of 700 places for the family stream, and these will be taken from the skilled stream.
As yet, we do not have details of the breakdown of the planning levels by visa type but will release further information as it becomes available.
|Total Migration Program||190,000||190,000||0|
Humanitarian ProgramThe humanitarian program has been increased from 13,750 places in 2012-13 to 20,000 places in 2013-14. The Minister for Immigration, Brendan O'Connor, that costs of visa processing, detention and refugee assistance programs will increase by some $3.2 billion over the next 4 years.
Working Holiday ProgramAdditional working holiday places will be allocated to passport holders from Malaysia and Indonesia. Currently, working holiday visas are available for Malaysia and Indonesia, but visa numbers are capped at 100 for each country. The cap will be raised to 1,000 places for each country in 2013-14. These measures are part of the Australia in the Asian Century initiative.
ConclusionThe Minister's campaign against businesses using the 457 program continues with a punitive increase in application fees, and additional monitoring powers.
At the same time, costs for administering the humanitarian program continue to spiral. It seems fair to question whether proper analysis was conducted prior to the unwinding of the Howard era refugee policy. The financial cost to the Australian community of the current government's refugee policy has proven to be significant.
Additional places in the working holiday program for Malaysia and Indonesia are a boon for nationals of these countries, and brings welcome diversity to the program.