STUDENT dependants of 457 visa holders will soon attract education fees under new regulations, though not as soon as first announced by the Western Australian state government.

From 2015, workers on 457 visas will be required to pay an annual fee of $4000 for a family’s first child enrolled in a government-funded school, while all subsequent enrolments will attract an annual fee of $2000.

The 2015 implementation date extends a 12-month reprieve to current 457 visa holders and ensures applicants will not be faced with the charges unexpectedly.

“On average it costs more than $15,000 to educate a child in a Western Australian state school and following discussions with Education Minister Peter Collier and Treasurer Troy Buswell, we have concluded the government has to introduce this measure to try to recoup some of the cost of educating these children from overseas,” Premier Colin Barnett said.

“This decision reflects the pressure on the State’s budget and the reality that WA taxpayers contribute to the cost of services such as education over a lifetime of paying taxes, rather than a period of just four years, as with 457 visa holders.”

The new education costs come on the back of recent changes to federal regulations which more than doubled application fees for foreign skilled workers and added new fees for accompanying family members. Additionally, 457 visa holders must pay for disability services and public hospital treatment due to exclusions outlined under federal legislation.

Lipman James’ immigration lawyer Alan Chanesman told ABC News that such policies could deter skilled workers from coming to Australia to fill vital shortages in the job market.
“Australians do not want to travel to regional Australia, particularly, regional Australia in the West where living conditions are really tough,” he said.

The scheme is expected to raise an estaimated $120m over four years, and provisions for hardship consideration will be included in the new regulations, permitting eligible 457 visa holders to pay the education fees by instalments.