Exciting changes have been proposed within the 457 visa programme that could potentially cut down on red-tape, streamline the application process and strengthen the integrity of the programme.
Following an independent review into the 457 visa programme, the Assistant Minister for Immigration has announced a number of recommendations that are supported by the Australian Government.
Some of the more noteworthy recommendations include:
- The Ministerial Advisory Council on Skilled Migration will be reconstituted as a tri-partite advisory council;
- Standard Business Sponsors will be approved for five years and start-up business sponsors for eighteen months;
- More realistic and less onerous English language requirements;
- Current training benchmarks replaced with an annual training contribution to a government training fund. Contributions will be based on the number of sponsored subclass 457 employees and the size of the business. The training fund will be used to support a wide range of training initiatives throughout Australia for youth, apprentices/trainees from target groups, including Indigenous Australians and those in rural and regional areas; mentoring programmes and training scholarships that address critical skills gaps in the current Australian workforce such as nursing and the IT sector and training initiatives in areas such as the aged care and disability care sectors;
- Rewarding Australian employers who are complying with their sponsorship obligations, by providing them with streamlined processing for their nominations and visa applications
- Greater collaboration between the Australian Taxation Office and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to uphold the integrity of the subclass 457 programme by cross checking to ensure that employers are paying overseas workers the correct wages and entitlements;
- Criminalising fraudulent activity in the subclass 457 programme where it will be a criminal offence for sponsors to accept payment from visa applicants for a migration outcome.
The government will look to introduce the majority of the recommendations within the next 6 months, however further consultation may be required in some instances.
Responding to the announcement, Angela Chan the National President of the Migration Institute of Australia believes that “the review is a win- win for all stakeholders, as the government’s response will benefit Australian business; provide safeguards for overseas skilled workers and at the same time, ensure jobs for Australians are protected. The government’s response is well balanced and the integrity of the subclass 457 programme will be strengthened by these changes,”
While these changes have not yet been implemented, we’re always happy to answer any questions our clients may have and discuss how the proposals may benefit their business. Please feel free to contact us today via our Sydney Office on +61 2 9112 3999 or our UK office on +44 1622 320 202