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Morrison highlights proposed changes to 457 visa scheme

15 September 2014

457 Review recommendations released

Immigration and Border Protection minister Scott Morrison, has discussed the Government’s response to the just released report by the panel conducting the Independent Review into Integrity in the Subclass 457 programme. 

Report has 22 recommendations, major ones include: 

•    Current labour market testing may be abolished as in the Australian context it has been proven ineffective, therefore it can’t be fully reliable and utilized as part of the requirement. 

•    Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL) should be refined and be amended by two means:
     o    Certain skilled occupations exist in the community but may not be on the ANZSCO list; 
     o    Refinement of CSOL may incur integrity or appropriateness concerns

•    English language requirement
     o    English language requirement to be amended to an average score not 5 across the board of the four components 
     o    Greater flexibility be provided to seek concessions 
     o    Considerations be given to expanding the list of nationalities that are exempt from English requirement
     o    Instead of current exemption which requires five years continuous study, five years cumulative study be accepted 

•    Pathways to permanent residence, considerations be given to the amount of time required with a nominating employer at least one year, age, facilitating access for partners of primary applicants

•    Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT)
     o    Arguments to abolish TSMIT 
     o    Current TSMIT of $53,900 to be retained and no further increase within two years
     o    TSMIT may be lowered by 10% for consideration, regional concession may be given
     o    In the circumstances where base rate of pay is below TSMIT, flexible approach should be adopted to take into account guaranteed annual earnings to arrive at a rate that meets the minimum requirement of TSMIT 

•    Market Salary Rate is still the core component of the 457 programme; however earnings threshold above where there is an exemption to demonstrate the market rate should be aligned with the top income level (currently at $180,000). 

•    Training Benchmarks 
      o    May be replaced by an annual training fund contribution based on the size of business
      o    Any fund raised by way of training contributions from sponsors of 457 visa holders be invested in:
               training and support initiatives including job readiness, life skills etc.
               programmes allowing employers to take on apprentices/ trainees  
               mentoring programmes and training scholarships
               training and support initiatives for sectors of critical national priority 
      o    There may be a new sponsor obligation to ensure that the cost to the sponsor of the training contribution cannot be passed onto a 457 visa holder or third party

•    Genuine position requirement to be targeted by decision-makers – before decision-makers refuse a nomination on the basis of the genuine position requirement, the sponsor be invited to provide further documents

Others recommendation include:

•    Sponsorship period should be approved longer – Standard business sponsorship should be approved for 5 years and start-up business sponsors for 18 months
•    Skills assessments should be explored to better recognize applicants’  experience 
•    Fee structure should be reviewed especially for secondary visa applicants and visa renewal applications.
•    A streamlined approach
•    New Ministerial advisory council established
•    Labour Agreements
•    Role of education
•    Monitoring continue to enhance its compliance
•    Inter-agency cooperation – DIBP and ATO to uphold integrity, visa holders to provide TFN to DIBP
•    Fair Work Ombudsman 
•    e-457 Systems enhancements

The Minister praised the report for its “balanced and measured” 22 recommendations. 

Minister Morrison did not give any details of the implementation date of the recommendations, but said that the Government will give a detailed response “in the weeks and months ahead.” 

Employers or 457 visa applicants can contact one of our experienced team of registered migration consultants and immigration lawyers at Alliance International Migration Services (AIMS) for more information these possible changes and how it will affect you or your business. Please contact us today for a no-obligation chat on +61 3 9078 6819 or team@thinkvisa.com.au

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