10 February 2023

A good column from a coalition of human rights and migrant rights organisations: “Since 1996, when the Howard government introduced the temporary employer-sponsored sub-class 457 visa, two key trends have come to dominate immigration policy. The first is the endless proliferation of temporary visas with no direct pathways to permanent residency. As the Human Rights Law Centre and Migrant Workers Centre pointed out in joint submissions to the review, it is increasingly common for people to spend more than 10 years on temporary visas searching for an opportunity to permanently migrate. … The second trend is the dependence of permanent pathways upon decisions made by employers. Temporary migrants must rely on the goodwill of their employers at various points in the immigration maze: to obtain certification of their skills, to accrue the points necessary in the cut-throat process of skilled migration, or to sponsor them for a limited range of employment-based visas. The reliance of migrant workers on their employers for immigration outcomes robs them of bargaining power at work. It becomes unthinkable to refuse extra hours or cashback requests, demand fair pay or decent conditions at work if losing your job means losing your visa and a future in Australia. The migration system offers no protection to temporary migrants, extending them a standing invitation to ‘go home’ if things get tough. It is time Australia confronts and addresses the systemic exploitation of migrant workers. This requires a fundamental shift that puts the rights of migrants at the heart of the migration system.”