Brits in Oz angry about changes to 457 visas

Published:  24 Apr at 6 PM
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The extension of the number of qualifying years before migrants in Australia can apply for permanent residence is causing anger and dismay amongst British expats on the continent.

Previously, the so-called 457 work visa allowed workers skilled in a specified number of professions to apply for permanent residence after just one year, but the changes now stipulate a four-year timescale. In addition, an English language test is now mandatory, as is proof of commitment to Australian values.

The new 457 rules were announced Thursday by the Turnbull government and are being seen, especially by British expatriates, as deliberately introduced hurdles for the ‘privilege’ of Australian citizenship. However, the changes were explained by Turnbull as intended to give newcomers more time to integrate into Australian society as well as to become proficient in the English language. Britons working in Oz are angry that they are being placed in the same categories as non-British migrants in spite of the shared culture and language traditionally linking the two countries.

Brit electrical engineer Ian Sinkins is at present working in Oz on the 457 visa, and is upset that he is being put in the same category as non-English speakers. Most Britons, he told the media, come from a Christian backgrounds, English is their native language and they are fully aware of the need to integrate, with the two countries’ shared heritage making it easy. He added all migrants are being tarred with the same brush, and admits he is unsettled by the development.

Sinkins, with his wife and two children, arrived in Australia in mid-2014, and the family had no problems settling in. They love the Australian way of life and culture as well as its work ethic and friendly people. His wife Lisa’s aunt and uncle were some of the first migrants to take advantage of the ’10 pound Pom’ deal offered 50 years ago and she has relatives in the Australian branch of the extended family. She works as a head practice nurse and her husband works for a German renewables company as well as setting up his own business which will soon be able to employ local engineers.

However, the visa changes may well make the family’s future less secure, as they will now have to wait a full eight years to become Australian citizens – four years on the temporary 457 visa and another four as permanent residents. They’re now wondering if they really are welcome in their new land and are thinking about going back to the UK before the government moves the goal posts again.

Source: The Guardian Australia
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