New Australia immigration rules may affect Nepalis

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Apr 20, 2017-

Mirroring the United States’ move to curb on migrants, the Australian government on Tuesday announced plans to abolish 457 visas which could affect tens of thousands of aspirants planning to travel to the country, including Nepalis. 

Announcing the abolishment of the work visas in Canberra on Tuesday, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he wanted to focus on “Australian jobs and Australian values” that echoes “America First”--a harsher stance against skilled migrants--adopted by the US under Donald Trump administration. 

“The migration programme should only operate in our national interest,” news dispatches from Australia quoted Turnbull as saying. “We are an immigration nation, but … Australian workers must have priority for Australian jobs. We’ll no longer allow 457 visas to be passports to jobs that could and should go to Australians.”

The 457 programme allowed skilled workers who travel to Australia to work  in their nominated occupation for their approved  sponsor (company) for up to four years.

However, the Canberra’s latest move could deter Nepalis much like in the case of the US.

There has been a sharp decline in the number of Nepali students travelling  to the US after Trump took office as the US president in January, although he has not taken any step towards controlling the students’ entry from countries like Nepal. 

While the decision is not expected to directly affect those entering the country on student visa, it will definitely hamper those who tend to acquire a work visa upon landing in the country. 

“The new policy won’t directly affect the students,” said Kumar Karki, vice-chairman of the International Education Representatives’ Initiative of Nepal (IRIN). “But this might affect those looking for sponsorship options.” 

Australia has been one of the most preferred academic destinations for Nepalis for over a decade. Last year, around 7,000 acquired ‘No Objection Certificate’ from the Education Ministry for higher studies in Australia--the highest among a list of 72 countries where Nepali students went out on a student visa. 

Jina Napit, a Nepali student living in Australia for around four years, said there is a trend among Nepali students as well to seek a work visa upon landing down under. The Australian government has, however, assured the new policy will not affect those who are already there on the visa, saying that they would offered with temporary options. The 457 programme will be replaced by two temporary skilled visas–one lasting two years and another lasting four years for critical skills shortages only.

An estimated 95,000 skilled migrants on 457 visas as of September last year. The majority of the visa holders were from India, which accounted for almost a quarter of the intake,  followed by the UK and China at 19.5 percent and 5.8 percent respectively. Roughly around 150,000 Nepali are staying in Australia at present. The Nepali community is the fastest growing immigrants in Australia with around 27 percent annual growth. Brazilians occupied the second position with an average annual growth rate of 12.6 percent, followed by Pakistan (12.5 pc), India (11.6 pc) and Bangladesh (10.4 pc).

Published: 20-04-2017 08:58

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