Businesses that hire foreign workers to pay $1.2 billion tax; Australia claims it's not targeting India

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Australia India
Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (L) shakes hands with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi during a photo opportunity ahead of their meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India, April 10, 2017. Reuters/Adnan Abidi

Businesses that employ foreign workers will be required to toe at least triple the bill as the Turnbull government eyes off over $1 billion in new visa fees.  From March 2018, companies that hire foreign workers on certain skilled visas will be forced to fund the Skilling Australians program, which is expected to support at least 150,000 apprentices by 2021.

Small businesses or companies that turn over less than $10 million annually are required to make an upfront payment of $1200 [per visa, per year] for every employee on a temporary visa. They also need to pay $3000, a one-off payment, for every non-Australian employee.

For companies with turnovers above $10 million, they are required to make front payments of $1800 for every employee on temporary visa, Daily Mail reports. Large companies must also face $5000 one-off levies for their workers under permanent skilled visas.

The Turnbull government is also increasing annual visa application charges, a move which can bring additional $410 million across four years by indexing fees. By July 1, several visa charges will increase by 2 percent, The Australian reports.

The amount that businesses pay to bring foreign workers will be used to largely finance a $1.47 billion Skilling Australians Fund. The federal government will also contribute $261 million.

Education and Training Minister Simon Birmingham said the fund may produce 300,000 apprenticeships by 2021. In order to achieve that target, states and territories must contribute a combined $1.5 billion over the forward estimates.

Birmingham said the fund will deliver skilled workforce to Australian employers and allows businesses to grow. “We will give Australians the best opportunity to fill Australian jobs rather than relying on overseas qualified workers,” he added.

457 visa

Meanwhile, Australia clarified on Tuesday that 457 visa changes is not targeting India or any other nation. Australia's High Commissioner to India Harinder Sidhu stressed that the changes in visa regime was to ensure Australians get first preference in skilled jobs, NDTV reports.

Last month, the Turnbull government announced scrapping of the popular 457 work visa to replace it with a new program that requires English-language proficiency and job skills. The axed visa scheme was used by over 95,000 foreign workers, majority of them were from India.

Sidhu said bilateral ties between Australia and India has seen a "steady upward trajectory.” Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's recent visit, according to him, "injected a fresh momentum" in the relationship.

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