The Australian Immigration Minister has unveiled a new law aimed at eradicating wage and labour exploitation perpetrated through loopholes in the visa system. One critical change is an extension of the period of time allowed for TSS 482 visa holders to secure an alternative employer sponsor to continue on the TSS 482 visas. The proposed measures aim to reinforce employer accountability and ensure the rights of temporary skilled visa holders, especially TSS 482 visa holders, are protected.
Strengthened Employer Regulations:
Employers found guilty of labour exploitation will face more stringent penalties. The following salient points outline the enhanced regulations for employers:
- Criminalization of violations: Violation of the agreed-upon visa conditions between employers and workers will be considered a criminal offense.
- Prohibition on hiring exploited workers: Employers involved in the exploitation of workers will be barred from hiring temporary skilled visa holders.
- Repeal of Section 235 of the Migration Act: The amendment of this provision will eliminate a major avenue for labour exploitation.
Empowering Workers to Report Exploitation:
In an effort to encourage workers to come forward and report instances of labour exploitation, the Ministry of Immigration intends to introduce a bill to Congress. The proposed bill will focus on safeguarding the rights of temporary skilled visa holders as follows:
- Increased income threshold: Temporary visa holders will benefit from a higher income threshold, providing them with greater financial security.
- Extended period without an employer: The duration during which temporary skilled visa holders can remain without an employer will be extended from 60 days to 6 months.
- Streamlined pathway to permanent residency: The period required for Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa holders to apply for an Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa through the Temporary Residency Transition stream will be reduced from 3 years to 2 years.
- Enhanced opportunities for permanent residency: Temporary Skill Shortage visa holders will have increased prospects for securing permanent residency.
The Ministry of Immigration’s proactive measures to combat labour abuse and protect the rights of temporary skilled visa holders is undoubtedly a positive development. The proposed changes, encompassing stricter employer regulations and improved safeguards for workers, are poised to create a more equitable and secure environment for those currently on temporary visas or aspiring to immigrate to Australia. These reforms hold the potential to enhance the overall integrity and fairness of Australia’s immigration system, benefiting both visa holders and the nation as a whole.
The recent announcement by the Ministry of Immigration regarding the new legislation is a positive step toward safeguarding the rights of temporary skilled visa holders and combating labour exploitation. By holding employers accountable and empowering workers to report abuse, Australia seeks to create a fair and inclusive environment for all skilled migrants. These reforms are expected to provide relief and reassurance to current visa holders while also attracting skilled professionals who are considering immigration to Australia.
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