Visa reform won’t affect Irish workers, says expert

A company specialising in overseas work visas has moved to calm fears of a rush by Irish people worried about the impact of Australia scrapping its 457 visa, which allows foreign workers in on a temporary basis. 

Visafirst.com said Australia was not abandoning its foreign workers’ programme but rather changing it, saying the 457 will be replaced by a new scheme, the Temporary Skill Shortage, which will leave the door open to thousands of Irish in Australia.

The company said it had been “inundated with frantic calls” from worried Irish people since the announcement of the 457 visa change was made.

Managing director Edwina Shanahan said: “We are urging people not to panic. What we are telling people is that yes, the change will definitely impact on Irish workers. However, while the numbers might fall slightly, we don’t expect to see a huge drop in the numbers of Irish going Down Under over the next few years. This is simply a reform of the sponsorship programme.”

She said anyone currently travelling on a 457 visa or who has recently been granted one for future travel will not be affected. Thousands of Irish workers will still be able to travel to Australia to work as long as their occupation or profession is on the skills shortage list of which there are over 400, she said.

In the US, President Donald Trump’s executive order promising to clamp down on abuse of the H-1B visa for highly-skilled temporary workers will not impact on Irish employees working for Irish-owned companies in the US, said company insiders.

A spokesperson for Glanbia, which has a significant presence in the US, said: “Glanbia, with a significant footprint in the USA, is committed to hiring the best talent to drive our ambition as a global nutrition company. We expend considerable resources to ensure compliance with immigration law and will work on any changes to current immigration law as they arise. Changes to the H-1B program would not have a significant impact on our business.”

Glanbia echoed the Kerry Group, which said it had a good relationship with the Trump administration.


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