By ANTHONY IAN CRUZ
Nov. 29, 2007
(Part 1 of 3)
THOUSANDS of Filipinos are being enticed to pack their bags for Australia due to its temporary work visa program called “457” which would provide a minimum annual salary equivalent to at least P1.5 million.
Under Australian law, employers are bound to pay 457 Visa holders the “legislated minimum salary levels” of 57,300 Australian dollars (P2.15 million) for information and communications technology (ICT) employees, and 41,850 Australian dollars (P1.57 million) for other occupations eligible under the 457 temporary visa program.
Also, a person with a 457 visa will be allowed four years of continuous legal stay and the option to bring members of his family to study or work in Australia.
Apart from ICT professionals, the 457 Visa may be availed by employers to fill out a list of occupations certified by the Australian government to be suffering from “skill shortages.”
The Australian government declared as eligible under the 457 program occupations that address “serious job skills shortages.”
These are accountants and actuaries, commodities traders, financial traders, office managers, foresters, millers, slaughter persons, aircraft pilots, various seafarer classes, flight instructors, fashion designers, graphic designers, museum curators, book editors, composers, actors, television presenters, bricklayers, management consultants, policy analysts;
Teachers for pre-primary, primary, secondary and vocational schools, special needs teachers, university lecturers, engineers, acupuncturists, nurses, doctors, dentists, psychologists, hotel managers, personnel managers, archivists, librarians, lawyers, fleet managers, railways managers, editors, journalists, biochemists, botanists;
Funeral directors, firemen, private investigators, golfers, footballers, coaches for various sports, cartographers, surveyors, motor mechanics, vehicle painters and body makers, various types of electricians, chemical plant operators, hairdressers, locksmiths, gunsmiths, piano tuners, plumbers, dressmakers, upholsterers, wood machinists, and pre-press tradespersons.
The long list of eligible occupations, migrant workers’ interests, and strong business sector support have made the 457 Visa “the most commonly used program for employers to sponsor overseas workers to work in Australia on a temporary basis,” according to Australia’s official immigration website.
According to estimates of Australian media, the number of 457 Visa grantees has reached 40,000 as of May 2007, with Filipinos and Chinese ranking as top choices.
Australian immigration authorities said 49,400 Filipinos entered the country in 2005-2006, with only 1,745 listed as students.
Another enticement is the “simple” process of getting to Australia via the 457 Visa.
First, an Australian employer applies to be a sponsor to recruit OFWs, nominates positions to be filled, recruits OFWs to the nominated positions, acts as sponsor for the OFWs applying for a 457, and meets costs and obligations that are part of the 457 program.
Second, the prospective OFW only needs to accept the job offer of the Australian employer, apply for a visa through the employer in Australia, and meet the conditions set therein.
But the “deceptively” simple application process is where the problems concerning 457s start, according to the influential Australian Metal Workers Union.
The AMWU has backed Filipinos in the city of Perth in efforts to galvanize migrant workers’ efforts to protect themselves and claim their rights under the law.
OFWs in Perth banded themselves early this month to join AMWU and have announced plans to contest higher union positions to better ventilate their concerns as 457 Visa holders following incidents involving Filipinos and other nationalities who were denied all or most their lawful benefits. ###