Visa 457 Changes

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August 2, 2013

The 1st July is always a critical time in the Australian Immigration World.

You may have heard in the media that a lot of changes have been made to the 457 visa program. Below you can find the changes that we thought might be most relevant for you as an employer or visa applicant.
Ongoing requirement to train Australian citizens and permanent resident workers

Even before the first of July 2013 businesses wishing to become standard business sponsors had to meet the training requirement by providing evidence of:

  • Recent payments by the business to an industry training fund to a value of at least 2 per cent of the payroll, or
  • Recent expenditure equivalent to 1 per cent of the payroll in the provision of training to Australian and permanent resident employees in the business.

Businesses also had to commit to maintaining that level of expenditure in each fiscal year, for their term of approval as a sponsor Meeting the training benchmarks is now an ongoing and enforceable requirement rather than a commitment.  In addition, sponsors will be obligated to maintain records relating to training. This includes start-up businesses (i.e. businesses trading for less than 12 months) who initially provide an auditable training plan. Previous sponsors must also demonstrate that they continued to meet the benchmarks during their sponsorship term when applying for a new sponsorship or varying the terms of their current sponsorship.

Demonstrating a genuine skill need

The regulations also have become stricter when it comes to granting a nomination.
A delegate must now be satisfied that the nominated position is genuine and may refuse the application if:

the tasks of the nominated occupation do not correspond to the tasks of an eligible occupation, or the position associated with nominated occupation is not genuine.

Indicating how many workers an employer will sponsor
Immigration has also reintroduced a requirement that was previously in place.
Employers are now again restricted to sponsoring the number of subclass 457 workers that was approved in their sponsorship application over the term of their sponsorship. They can vary this number by applying for a variation to their sponsorship agreement. A sponsorship agreement will cease either at either when the number of nominations is reached or the time period expires (1, 3 or 6 years). Accredited sponsors will not be required to nominate the number of workers they intend to sponsor.
Duration of visa application

Previously the visa could be granted for all applicants up to four years. Now if your sponsor is a start-up business, then the visa will be granted for 12 months only.

Skills assessments for generalist occupations
DIAC has now also introduced a requirement of a formal skills assessment for the occupations Program and Project Administrator and Specialist Manager not elsewhere classified.
Market salary rate assessment exemption lifted to $250,000
As an employer you will have to show that you will pay the nominee market salary rate.
The market salary assessment exemption threshold has now been increased to $250,000. This means that you will only be exempt from having to show evidence of market salary if the nominee receives a market salary that is $250,000 or higher.
Employment must consist of a direct employee-employer relationship
Employees must now be employed by their sponsor in a direct ‘employee-employer’ relationship. This prohibits on-hire arrangements that fall outside approved Labour Agreements and prevents sponsors from engaging visa holders under arrangements that resemble independent contracting arrangements.

Sponsors will now be required to keep a record of written contracts of employment with primary sponsored persons.

Sponsors are obligated to pay certain costs
Sponsors will be required to pay certain costs associated with becoming a sponsor and not pass these costs, in any form, onto a sponsored person.
Occupation based exemptions to the English language requirement are removed.
Whilst before the 1 July 2013 visa applicant for certain occupations did not have to provide evidence of their English language now all applicants have to provide an IELTS test unless they have:
A nominated salary that is over the ELSET amount (this is currently $96400 per annum)
A passport from Canada, United States of American , United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland and New Zealand, or
have completed at least 5 consecutive years of full-time study in a secondary and/or higher education institution where the instruction was delivered in English.
Restricted terms of sponsorship for start-up businesses
There have also been changes to the duration of a sponsorship of a start up business. Previously the terms of sponsorship for start-up businesses were the same as standard business sponsors. The term of sponsorship approval for start-up businesses has been amended to an initial 12 months and all subclass 457 visa holders sponsored by start-up businesses are limited to an initial 12 month visa.
Requirement to commence employment within 90 days of arriving in Australia
It is now a part of condition 8107 that a Subclass 457 visa holder must commence work with their sponsor within 90 days of arriving in Australia.
Requiring mandatory registration, licensing or membership
For certain occupations, visa holders are required to obtain any mandatory registration, licence or membership in the state or territory where their position will be located. From now on Subclass 457 visa holders are required to have sought to obtain within 28 days any mandatory registration, licence or membership for their occupation in the state or territory they are employed.
Extend the period in which a visa holder can seek new sponsored employment
The time period for Subclass 457 holders to find a new sponsor or to depart Australia, if they cease employment with their sponsoring employer is now 90 consecutive days.
New Fees
DIAC has also raised the fees for 457 visa applications and introduced charges for secondary applicants.
The new fees are as follows.
  • Nomination for Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (Subclass 457):  $330
  • Temporary Work (Skilled) (Subclass 457):  $420
  • Base Application Charge:  $900
  • Additional Applicant Charge 18 and over:  $900
  • Additional Applicant Charge under:  18 $225
  • Subsequent Temporary Application Charge:  $700

The rules and regulations for applying successfully for a 457 have become ever more complex and expensive. The team at AustraliaMigrate are dedicated experts in assisting both companies and individuals through the complexities of these applications to a successful outcome of employer sponsorship applications.

Please don’t leave to chance – Call Ian Singer (MARA 0001947) on (02) 9411 6000 or email to have an initial discussion about your chances of success. You will be presently surprised by our accessibility, expertise and costs.

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