Reforms to be introduced to the Subclass 457 Program mean that Standard Business Sponsors (SBS) will be required to prepare supporting documents at least 1 - 2 months in advance to fulfil stricter Subclass 457 Program requirements.

The 457 visa program is the most commonly used program to enable Australian employers to fill skill shortages by recruiting skilled overseas workers where they cannot find suitable Australian workers.

The changes to be introduced on the 1 July 2013 include:

  • The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) will be introducing a requirement for the nominated position to be a genuine vacancy within the business. DIAC are concerned that positions may have been created purposely to secure a 457 visa without consideration of whether there is a suitable skilled Australian worker available.
  • Tip: Business's should first demonstrate that they have been actively seeking to employ an Australian worker to fulfil positions within their business (for example advertising the position locally). If the business is not able to find a suitable Australian candidate for the position after searching for a reasonable period of time, the activity of advertising for the position will be considered as demonstrating a genuine need for the business to employ a skilled overseas worker.

  • The market salary exemption threshold will be increased from $180 000 to $250 000 to ensure that higher paid salary workers are not able to be undercut through the employment of overseas labour at a cheaper rate.
  • Tip: SBS's will be required to demonstrate market salary data for all nominees being offered a salary less than $250,000

  • DIAC will be strengthening the English language requirements by removing exemptions for nominees from non-English speaking backgrounds who are nominated with a salary less than $92 000. The definition of English language will be better aligned with the permanent Employer Sponsored.
  • 457 nominees are to be engaged on an employment contract (as opposed to a business contract for services) and not on-hired to an unrelated entity unless they are sponsored under a labour agreement, or in an exempt occupation.
  • DIAC will be reinforcing the existing obligation regarding recovery of costs to ensure that sponsors are exclusively responsible for certain costs.
  • DIAC will be strengthening the requirement for sponsors to train Australians by introducing an ongoing and binding requirement to meet the existing current training requirements for the duration of their approved sponsorship.
  • Tip: Businesses that have been in operation for less than 12 months, and all businesses that will be newly approved as a SBS, will most likely be subject to sponsorship monitoring by DIAC. In particular businesses will be monitored on their on-going commitment to meet the training requirements as per the training details they have submitted with their SBS application.

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