The Australian Govt. announced a cut in the annual immigration intake. Measures are also being taken to push more immigrants to regional areas. The Govt. believes this will help decongest major cities like Sydney and Melbourne in Australia.
However, concerns are being raised over the increase of employer-sponsored visas in Australia. As more and more foreign workers are dependent on their employers, it increases the chance of exploitation.
Australia has reduced the annual intake to 160,000. 23,000 visas places have been reserved for regional visas under the RSMS (Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme). The number of Regional Employer Sponsored Visas would increase from 6,000 to 9,000. The number of State and Territory Sponsored Visas has also been increased from 8,500 to 14,000. However, the number of visa spots for Skilled Independent Visas have been reduced from 43,990 to less than 19,000.
An Indian immigrant said that her Employer-Sponsored Visa was cancelled twice because she had refused to pay her employers. She had been in Australia since 2009. Her first employer in Colac asked her to pay $50,000 for nominating her. When she refused, the employer withdrew his support for her Visa.
She then found another employer who was willing to sponsor her. While her Visa application was in process, this employer too, started demanding money. The employer demanded $35,000 for sponsoring her visa. When she refused, he too withdrew his support. He also refused to pay her wages.
The Indian immigrant is currently suing her employer for unpaid wages. She was on the verge of being deported but managed to secure a Student Visa in time.
The rejection rate in RSMS visas is very high due to corruption, as per SBS News. Employer-sponsored visas give an employer a lot of power. Many employers use it to exploit foreign workers who, often, are too afraid to even complain for fear of losing their Visa.
The Dept. of Home Affairs said that the ATO is putting in place new measures to punish unscrupulous employers. The ATO has started data matching which will help detect exploitation. There will also be tougher penalties for guilty employers.
The Australian Govt. is planning to impose a penalty of up to $63,000 on employers who violate sponsorship conditions. It will also provide additional funding of $20 million to FWO (Fair Work Ombudsman). This will help strengthen the FWO to deal with employers exploiting their workers.
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