There have been a number of important changes to the Subclass
457 program since 1 July 2013 and every business should be aware of
Here are five of the most important changes in brief:
1. Caps on Numbers of Sponsored Employees
Before July last year, there was no limit on the number of
employees a Standard Business Sponsor could sponsor on 457
However, since 1 July 2013, a Standard Business Sponsor has to
nominate the number of workers they want to sponsor on 457 visas,
and justify that number, as part of the sponsorship approval
process. The Department will approve a specific number of potential
457 visas, and once this cap is reached, the employer has to apply
to vary the terms of its sponsorship to be able to sponsor
2. English Language Test
Previously, English language testing for 457 applications was
only required for trade and technician occupations.
From 1 July 2013, ALL 457 visa applicants have to undergo
English language testing, unless they are able to satisfy one of
the following exemptions:
They have a passport from the UK, Ireland, USA, Canada or
They have been offered a base salary level of $96,400 pa or
They have completed at least 5 consecutive years of study in
The English language test must be completed before lodgement of
a 457 visa application. It is a "time of application"
requirement. The test usually completed by applicants is the IELTS
test, with a score of at least 5 in each of the 4 components
Even existing 457 visa holders need to meet the English
requirement if they are nominated again for a 457 visa, either when
extending their 457 visa with their current employer or
transferring to a new employer.
3. Labour Market Testing (LMT)
Labour market testing (LMT) in the Subclass 457 programme was
introduced from 23 November 2013.
Standard business sponsors must now test the local labour market
before lodging a nomination and provide information with their
nomination about their attempts to recruit Australian workers, and
how they have determined, on the basis of these attempts, that
there is no suitably qualified and experienced Australian citizen
or permanent resident, or eligible temporary visa holder, available
to fill the position.
The LMT requirement does not apply to nominations lodged by
parties to a labour agreement, or where it would conflict with
Australia's international trade obligations.
4. Salary Level Increases
As of 1 July 2013, threshold salary levels increased as
TSMIT (Minimum Salary)
English Language Waiver
Market Rate Salary Waiver
5. New Credit Card Surcharge
Previously, there was no credit card surcharge on visa
Since 19 April 2014, a credit card surcharge applies to all
transactions using Visa, MasterCard, American Express, JCB and
Diners credit cards. The following rates apply:
Visa and MasterCard
American Express and JCB
Diners Club International
These changes make it harder for businesses to sponsor overseas
skilled workers. It is important to be aware of the extra
requirements and to ensure they are met, if visa applications are
to be processed as efficiently as possible.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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The Federal Court handed down the largest court imposed fine for breaching subclass 457 visa sponsorship obligations.
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