The skilled migrant visa debate has been one of the biggest issues that have dominated the immigration department in 2013.

To try and calm the furore of the matter, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship has announced that the costs of the 457 visa application will double in July when the price rises from $455 to $900 on July 1.

Whilst there has been continued debate about the program, it helps boost the wealth of Australian industry bringing in nearly $200m annually. Alongside the rise in fees, the government has also planned to allocate $3.4m to the Ombudsman to investigate any claims that companies or sponsors are abusing or incorrectly using the programme to boost their entire workforce.

Whilst the rise in fees might bring in much-needed investment to the Australian industry, the increases has concerned businesses who think that it might put people off from applying to the skilled migrant programme.

The problem could be particularly tricky for the farming industry who is one of the biggest beneficiaries of the skilled migrant visa. Many farms often struggle to attract Australian workers due to their remote location which means there is a growing need for foreign workers.

These views were underlined by Australian National Farming Federation President Duncan Fraser who told ABC that “it’s difficult to get skills out to country areas where we can’t source those skills locally.” Another reason for driving the cost up is to try and prevent sponsors from abusing the initiative and acquiring workers illegally or without meeting all the criteria.

With an estimated 10,000 workers potentially being hired illegally by sponsors, it has become a sore subject with many members of the public and opposition politicians who feel that Australian workers are often overlooked by employers. However, with 107,000 457 visas being granted last year, the program still makes up a large % of foreign workers in the Australian economy.

With this in mind, it’s unlikely that the hike in the costs will severely impact the number of migrants entering the country as more people look to move to Australia year after year. For more information on how to migrate to Australia, contact EMSA today.

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