What are the recent changes to the 457 visa?

Publish Date: May 04, 2015

The government has recently announced it has made changes to Australian immigration visas.  The Temporary Skilled (Subclass 457) visas will now have different English language requirements and some increased time period for sponsors.

The Department of Immigration and Border Security will now accept an overall test score with minimum scores of each test component - reading, writing, speaking and listening.

The government has also agreed to expand the list of English language providers. Eligible tests for the English requirement now include internet based tests, such as TOEFL and IBT; Pearson Test of English (PTE); and Cambridge English Advanced (CAE) test if it was conducted on or after January 1 this year.

There has also been a change to the exception granted to applicants who were educated in English at a secondary or tertiary institution. An applicant only needs to provide evidence of five cumulative years of study in English, rather than proof of five consecutive years of secondary or tertiary study.

The government hopes that by amending the English language requirements to an average test score, both applicants and sponsors will benefit, without diminishing the English language standards of migrants who held the 457 visa.

Assistant Minister Senator Michaelia Cash said in a media statement on March 18 that "this change will support 457 programme users by allowing applicants to score more highly on the test competencies that they will need in their jobs and daily lives in Australia".

Senator Cash has said the changes were made as part of the government response to the 457 Integrity Review released on 18 March 2015.

The review panel was tasked with examining the compliance within the 457 visa program. It looked at sponsors of overseas workers to ensure the scheme was being used as it was intended.

The Temporary Skilled visa has had its term of standard business sponsorship extended to five years beginning on the date of approval. Start-up businesses have had their sponsorship period extended from 12 to 18 months.

Market salary exemption threshold was reduced to be in line with the marginal tax rate. It has fallen from $250,000 to $180,000.

The notifiable period for sponsors has also been extended from 10 working days to 28 calendar days.

Some of the key recommendations made by the review included targeting employers who seek to misuse the programme.

It was hoped more proactive sharing of information between key government agencies would also create greater transparency around the department's sanctions processes.

Migrants hoping to be sponsored for the 457 visa as a temporary worker should contact an immigration lawyer to help guide them through the process.

DT: Some changes have been made to the Temporary Skilled (457 Subclass) visa after the government ordered a review to improve the programme.

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