What has changed
From July 1, 2016, there will be new Sponsorship Accreditation Arrangements that come into effect. Sponsors approved with accredited status after July 1, 2016 will have access to streamlined nomination processing arrangements in addition to the priority processing per current arrangements.
Who is affected?
- Existing Accredited Sponsors and Standard Business Sponsors who may be eligible to become Accredited Sponsors
What to expect
It is not necessary, in order to successfully nominate a foreign employee for a 457 visa, to be an Accredited Sponsor. It is only necessary to be a Standard Business Sponsor. However, holding Sponsorship Accreditation status has the following benefits:
- Access to streamlined processing of nominations for 457 visas, where the nominated base salary is equal to or greater than the “Fair Work High Income Threshold” (A$138,900 from July 1, 2016) AND the occupation is classified at Skill Level 1 or 2 in the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO). ANZSCO is how the Australian government identifies occupation information in all visa programs.
- Access to streamlined processing of nominations for 457 visas where the salary is $75,000 or more and the occupation is classified as skill level 1 or 2 in the ANZSCO with the exception of eleven (11) excluded occupations.
- The validity of Accredited Sponsorship is six (6) years, rather than five (5) years as is the case for Standard Business Sponsorship.
The requirements from July 1, 2016 to receive Accredited Status are as follows:
- Meet all the usual requirements to be a Standard Business Sponsor, including the Training Benchmarks of spending the equivalent of 1% or more of payroll on training Australian citizens or residents or the equivalent of 2% or more into industry training funds.
- Be a government agency, a publicly-listed company or a private company with at least AUD four million annual turnover for the last three (3) years;
- have been an active 457 sponsor for at least three (3) years (with no more than a six (6) month break in the past thirty-six (36) months), with no adverse information (based on monitoring, including formal warnings and sanctions);
- have sponsored at least ten (10) primary 457 visa holders in the twenty-four (24) months prior to the application for accreditation. Currently, this number is thirty (30) in the previous twelve (12) months prior to application.
- have lodged an agreed level of decision-ready applications over the previous two (2) years. At this time, there is no clarification of what the agreed level is.
- have a non-approval rate of less than 3% for the previous three (3) years;
- have Australian workers comprising at least 75% of their workforce in Australia;
- engage all 457 holders as employees under a written contract of employment that includes at least the minimum employment entitlements as required under the National Employment Standards (unless their occupation is exempt from this requirement). A copy of a template contract used for this purpose must be attached to the application;
- have all Australian employees paid in accordance with an Enterprise Agreement or an internal salary table that reflects the current market salary rates for all occupations in their business;
- a copy of the Enterprise Agreement or internal salary table must be attached to the application in addition to evidence and a description of how the business used the evidence to determine that the salary rates contained in the document reflect the current market salary rates for occupations in their business (for example: awards, remuneration surveys, job advertisements, the Australian Government’s Job Outlook);
- have provided details of all business activities undertaken by their business to the department. Evidence relating to the other business activities must be attached to the application (for example: profit / loss statements, Business Activity Statements, annual reports); and
- have provided details of all Principals / Directors of their business to the department – if the business is a company, a current / historical extract from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) must be attached to the application.
The Department of Immigration & Border Protection will be writing to existing Accredited Sponsors to invite them to apply for access under new arrangements so they may benefit from the streamlined processing arrangements. Other businesses which are approved as Standard Business Sponsors may also seek to upgrade to be Accredited Sponsors.
The changes do encourage more sponsors to apply for Accredited Employer status, but the requirement in relation to requiring all 457 holders to be employed under a written contract including minimum employment entitlements may be a challenge, depending on the detail, for some employees who are on short-term assignments. The streamlined processing referred to is provided via a direction from the immigration Minister. Under that direction, accredited sponsors must have their nominations processed as a higher priority than those for non-accredited sponsors.
What you need to do
- Contact Emigra Worldwide for further information if you wish to explore becoming an Accredited Sponsor.
- Contact your Emigra Worldwide attorney or representative for further details on how these updates may impact you or your client.
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.