Changes to Australian Subclass 457 visa programme
Early in 2015, the federal government announced changes to Subclass 457 Temporary Work (Skilled) visas that would increase flexibility and reduce restrictions on visa holders whilst maintaining the integrity of the programme.
In April 2015 the Australian government followed through with the promise and delivered a number of changes.
457 Temporary Work (Skilled) visa applicants can now satisfy English language requirement by obtaining an average score of five across all components of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) (with no less than 4.5 in any of the components), as opposed to a score of five in each component (reading, speaking and writing).
Additionally, the government has increased the number of language tests, to include the following (as well as ILETS):
- Occupational English Test (OET) with a grade of B in each component;
- Test of English as a Foreign Language internet-based test (TOEFL iBT) with an overall score of 36 (minimum 3 in listening & reading, minimum 12 in speaking and writing);
- Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic test with an overall of 36 (minimum of 30 in each component);
- Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) test with an overall of 154 (minimum of 147 in each component)
Tests are required to have been completed within three years of the date of the visa or nomination application.
Exemptions to the language requirement based on the nationals’ passport remain the same, holders of the following passports are exempt: United Kingdom, United States of America, Canada, New Zealand and the Republic of Ireland.
Exemptions from this requirement can be granted to an applicant that provides evidence of five cumulative years of study in English the secondary or tertiary level.
The standard business sponsorship term has now increased from 3 years to 5 years.
The standard business sponsorship term for start-up businesses has increased from12 months to 18 months. The changes allow for a greater grace period for a business establishing itself in Australia. Start-up companies’ employees under Subclass 457 will now be granted 18 months rather than 12 months.
As the government tries to strengthen the integrity of the programme an Investigation Division has been created to focus and clamp down on sponsors failing to meet their obligations. The crack down can be seen by the recent Federal Court decision against Choong Enterprises (see above), the headline case also provides evidence of the Governments’ approach of disclosing information on sanction activity to deter employers from breaching their sponsorship obligations.
With increased co-operation between the Investigation Division and government agencies, it could mean more cases are brought before judges.
In order to monitor sponsors for breaches, the Australian government plan to equip foreign workers with information on their rights and what they should expect from their sponsor, as well as what to do should they infringe their rights.
Market Salary Threshold
Employers wanting to employ under Subclass 457 will no longer be required to pay in line with the Australian market, where the applicant will be paid over AUS$180,000 which is reduced from the previous threshold of AUS$250,000.
This decision comes as the department believes 457 visa holders earning over $180 000 are more than equipped to negotiate their own terms and conditions of employment without the need for further government involvement.
If you require assistance with applying for a work permit or business visa to Australia, please contact DavidsonMorris’ Global Immigration Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 020 7494 0118.