The federal government says it will investigate up to 100 employers over alleged 457 visa fraud.
Those being targeted are being investigated for sponsoring applications in return for payment.
The Assistant Immigration Minister, Senator Cash, said the move was part of a wider compliance campaign which involved an "initial assessment" of the 100 sponsors, but also had an educational component — Work visa scams. Don't pay the price — targeting both employers and visa holders.
"A business that sponsors a visa holder under false pretences may also be committing other offences, such as providing false or misleading information or engaging in misleading or deceptive conduct," she said.
"Visa holders who enter into contrived employment relationships for migration purposes may also be guilty of fraud related offences and/or not meet immigration requirements.”
The fact is, of course, that 457 visa holders are generally the victims, not the villains, when it comes to these scams. As reported in E-bulletin #17, a recent audit by the Fair Work Ombudsman found hundreds of cases where 457 visa holders were being underpaid and/or were not doing the job they had been sponsored to do.
The numbers suggest this is a systemic problem, not one confined to a “small minority” of rogue operators as the government claims.
It should be dealt with through a tightening of regulation and oversight of the whole programme, rather than lowering the bar for 457 visas as the most recent government report has recommended.