NEW DELHI: Calling the reaction in India “instinctive”, Australia’s High Commissioner to India Harinder Sidhu on Tuesday said that tightening of skilled worker visa policy has been done to protect integrity of the Australian system and not to target Indians. She expressed confidence that Indians will continue to qualify for the visa in future as well.
Sidhu defended that in Australia migration is weaved into official policy with one percent of its population coming every year from migration. Sidhu, who herself has her roots in Punjab and is a second generation migrant, said the revamping of visa policy was “to address domestic concerns” and the reaction is India was “little unfortunate”.
“We constantly review visa regime in Australia to protect integrity of the system. People were in jobs Australian could have done…. Australia has a shortage of skilled IT workers and I am confident Indians will continue to qualify under the present rules,” Sidhu said during an interaction with media persons at Indian Women Press Corps.
The Australian Envoy denied that Indians would not be affected by the revamping but said it would be small. The 457 Visa programme allowed the businesses in the country to hire skilled foreign professionals if there was a shortage of Australian workers.
Sidhu said that Indians were coming as students in large numbers and are one of the biggest source of permanent migrants. “There is a level of anxiety in community. I would suggest deal with the facts of the situation and don't react instinctively,” she added.
The Ambassador did not comment if the optics of the step could have been better as the announcement regarding tightening of the visa norms came a week after Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull visited India. The Australian PM had defended the new system as “manifestly, rigorously, resolutely conducted in the national interest”. “The migration program should only operate in our national interest. This is all about Australia’s interest”, the Prime Minister had said.
As of September 2016 there are 95, 758 people in Australia under 457 visa programme. Out of these the biggest chunk of 25 percent are from India, followed by the UK and China.