Australia – Integrity of Subclass 457 Visa Program Report

What has changed

On March 18, 2015, the Australian Government  released its response to the Independent Review into the integrity of the Subclass 457 visa program report: Robust New Foundations – A Streamlined, Transparent and Responsive System for the Subclass 457 Visa Program.

The Government has supported the majority of the recommendations that were made by the Review Committee in the Report.  The overriding aim of the Government in accepting these recommendations was to ensure the integrity of the program, while facilitating sponsorship of overseas workers and streamlining Subclass 457 processes for trusted and low risk business sponsors.

Who is affected?
What to expect

While full details of the implementation of the recommendations are not yet available, the following information on some of the recommendations have been supplied by The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (“DIBP”):

  • Training Benchmarks A and B will be replaced with an annual training fund contribution based on the number of Subclass 457 visas sponsored and with the contributions scaled according to the size of the sponsoring organisation.  These contributions will be made to the Department of Industry and directed to areas of identified training need.  The Government will undertake further consultation with stakeholders on how this will be      implemented.  Training expenditure cost may decrease for sponsors under this new arrangement.
  • It will be made unlawful for a sponsor to be paid by a visa holder to be sponsored and a strong penalty and conviction will be applied.
  • Labour market testing will not be abolished, however, the DIBP will examine ways to reduce the burden to employers and red tape in this process.
  • The English language level will be altered to an IELTS average of 5 overall, with no less than 4.5 in any band.
  • Alternate English language test providers are likely to be announced next month.
  • The exemption for demonstrating English language competency will not be extended to further countries, although the current exemption for 5 years continuous study in English will be changed to 5 years cumulative study.
  • SBS approvals will be extended from 3 to 5 years and from 12 to 18 months for start-up businesses.  These new approval time frames will commence from the time of renewal or new applications for SBS. Current approvals will not be extended to these time frames.
  • The Australian Taxation Office the DIBP have signed an Memorandum of Understanding which allows information to be shared on Subclass 457 visa holder salaries.  The Memorandum of Understanding allows the DIBP to request salary compliance checks across a broader range of the sponsored employees and businesses, without increasing the number of work site visits.
  • Visa charges are being reviewed as part of the Joint Review of Border Fees, Charges and Taxes.
  • The age limitations and the Temporary Residence Transition time frames for transition to Permanent Residence under the Employer Nomination Scheme are being reviewed as part of the Skilled Migration and Subclass 400 Visa Series Review, but the recommendations on these from the Subclass 457 review are supported.

IMPORTANT:  

The DIBP has advised that most of the changes arising out of these recommendations will occur over the next six (6) months.  Some changes, such as additional English language providers are already in progress.  Those recommendations that require consultation with stakeholders may not come into force until 2016.

What you need to do
Planning ahead

  • All of these changes will impact the sponsorship process greatly.
  • Due to the proposed changes to the Training Requirements, it may give scope to those clients who could not previously sponsor to now be able to sponsor.
  • Contact your Emigra Worldwide attorney or representative for further details on how these updates may impact you or your clients

The information above was provided by Emigra Worldwide, our global network partners, and relevant government authorities. The information herein is for general purposes only and not intended as advice for a particular matter. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the global immigration professional with whom you work.

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