457 Visa system to come under scrutiny by Immigration

THE integrity of the controversial 457 skilled migrant visa program will be investigated, with Immigration Minister Scott Morrison confirming a review of the program has been ordered.

In a speech last Friday to an immigration law conference in Sydney, Mr Morrison announced the review of the 457 program.

The review follows claims made last year by Labor politicians and unions of widespread rorting of the program by business, and an expansion of skilled migrants visas revealed last week.

Changes already made to the program include the Abbott Government removing the cap on business nominations for skilled migrants to come to Australia to fill gaps in existing jobs.

That change has essentially allowed businesses to recruit an unlimited supply of foreign workers, likely for large construction projects, a loophole closed by the previous government amid the rorting claims last year.

Mr Morrison said the independent review would investigate the "integrity" of the program, including the level of "non-compliance", the quality and potential further deregulation of the visa system.

"The review will evaluate the regulatory framework of the 457 program and determine whether the existing requirements appropriately balance a need to ensure program integrity against the costs to employers endeavouring to access the program," he said.

Despite claims the program will now allow foreign workers to fill local jobs, Mr Morrison said the program was "not a substitute for Australian workers", but "vital" to the success of Australian businesses.

"A business that closes will employ no-one, a lose-lose situation for the employer and for Australian workers," he said.

The panel leading the review includes business and academic representatives, but not unions, who would be allowed to provide submissions to the review panel.

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