Australia – Immigration Alerts

Clarifications Issued for Subclass 457 Work Visa Grandfathering

What has changed

Australia’s Department of Immigration & Border Protection has issued clarifications regarding the grandfathering provisions for current holders of Australian subclass 457 work visas under the new arrangements for employer-sponsored skilled visas which will apply from March 2018.

Going forward, foreign workers will be subject to stricter criteria in regards to work experience requirements, but the Department has also indicated there will be transitional arrangements, with several grandfathering provisions which will apply to foreign workers who held or had applied for 457 visas on or before 18 April 2017 who wish to seek permanent residence under the Temporary Residence Transition Stream within the Employer Nomination Scheme and Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme.

These provisions are as follows:

  • Occupation requirements remain the same (i.e. there are no restrictions as to the occupation a person must be working in as long as they continues to work in the same position for the same employer as when they acquired their 457 visa);
  • The age requirement will remain at less than fifty (50) years of age for this group.
  • The work experience requirement, and the requirement to have worked at least two (2) out of the three (3) years prior to nomination on a subclass 457 visa for the same employer, will remain at two(2) years rather than increase to three (3) years.

Further clarity has been added to other provisions:

  • Work experience: At least three (3) years of work experience relevant to the particular occupation will be required.
  • Training requirement: The contribution to the Skilling Australians Fund will come into effect from March 2018 (subject to being passed by parliament). The contribution will be paid in full at the time of nomination and is set at $3000 for businesses with turnovers of less than $10 million dollars, and $5000 for other businesses.

The upcoming major changes to the Employer Nomination Scheme and Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme, previously detailed in earlier bulletins, include:

  • A reduction in maximum age from fifty (50) to forty-five (45) years (with the above exception for those who held visas on 18 April 2017).
  • Restricting the visa to those whose occupation is on the Medium Long Term Strategic Skills List.
  • Foreign workers will become eligible to transition to permanent residence after three (3) years instead of the current two (2) years.
  • A minimum of three (3) years of highly relevant work experience will be required.

This is part of an ongoing change process for Australia’s employer-sponsored temporary and permanent work visas which has been the subject of earlier bulletins. It had appeared from earlier communications that transition to permanent residence may not be possible in all occupations for people who held 457 visas on 18 April 2017 when the Government announced its change agenda.

Who is affected?

  • All employers of foreign workers in Australia

What you need to do

Planning ahead

  • Emigra Worldwide can assist in identifying permanent residence pathways for employees currently in Australia on 457 visas and advise on the best timing for those applications.
  • Employers should note the availability of permanent visas under existing provisions for many of their visa holders and also be prepared for the changes from March 2018.
  • Contact your Emigra Worldwide representative for further details on how these updates may impact you or your client.

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Increase Processing Times for Subclass 457 Work Visas

What has changed

Processing times for 457 visas are now lengthier than before, and the Department of Immigration is not publishing service standards indicating how long it can be expected to take to get a decision.

During 2016, processing times varied between twenty (20) and fifty (50) working days at various times, but in many cases it is now taking three (3) months to get a decision. However, results continue to be very inconsistent, with frequent sponsors nominating employees in highly paid positions generally getting slightly better results in Emigra’s experience.

The Department’s public information only states that 75% of applications are processed within five (5) months and 90% within ten (10) months, but not indicating an average processing time.

The reason for the longer processing times is likely to be the upcoming reforms leading to a higher than usual demand, including to avoid the large levies which will apply from 2018 and because the Temporary Skills Shortage visa will include stricter criteria in relation to labour market testing.

While possible to seek priority processing of applications by making a request, as the Department receives many such requests, the circumstances in which it will entertain such a request is limited to

  • 457 holders are changing employers within Australia
  • Applications from sponsors for positions in remote locations
  • Where claims of large-scale contracts/projects with imminent deadlines are made and documentary evidence is provided

Requests focusing on personal reasons (e.g. school commencement for children, moving of household goods) will not be entertained and nor will circumstances involving staff shortages other than in relation to one of the situations outlined above. The Department of Immigration also does not respond to requests for status updates and will not provide estimates of when a decision will be made other than where a request for priority processing is made.

Who is affected?

  • All employers of foreign workers in Australia

What you need to do

Planning ahead

  • Employers should note current processing times of 457 visas and the circumstances in which priority processing may be considered.
  • Contact your Emigra Worldwide representative for further details on how these updates may impact you or your client.