Changes recommended to 457 immigration visas

Publish Date: Oct 29, 2014

For companies and skilled individuals, the 457 visa programme is a vital part of Australia's immigration policy.

However, there are also a number of problems with these opportunities, which has led to a recent report into the effectiveness of these visas as a part of Australia's entry conditions.

The report, released on September 10, laid out a number of recommendations for how this programme might be improved so as to put the service on a stronger footing.

What is a 457 visa?

457 visas allow for immigration into Australia for temporary work. They are taken out by skilled workers from overseas who have been sponsored by their employers in Australia.

Businesses looking to take on a worker under a 457 visa are required to prove that they are unable to find a qualified individual within Australia before they can sponsor a worker on this visa.

Sponsors are then required to meet a number of expectations throughout the duration of the visa. Currently, a 457 visa lasts for up to four years.

What reforms have been proposed?

The most recent report has detailed a number of different changes that might be made to the 457 visa programme in order to make it more efficient. These include simplifying the sponsorship requirements and increasing the length of the sponsorship in order to support businesses that have taken on staff through this system.

Other recommended changes involved fast-tracking low-risk applications and also offering greater flexibility when it comes to English language testing for migrants.

In a September 10 press release, the Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Michaelia Cash suggested that these changes would help to balance the existing visa system.

"The report identified 22 recommendations that strive to achieve a balance between encouraging flexibility and productivity with strengthening the integrity of the 457 programme and ensuring that overseas workers do not displace Australians," said Ms Cash.

"The panel have provided a comprehensive analysis of the programme and recommendations to strengthen integrity and guarantee that businesses that sponsor 457 visa holders do not discriminate against Australian workers."

If you are a company looking to sponsor staff on a 457 visa, or are an individual looking to enter the country on one, make sure you talk to a migration lawyer. They will be able to advise on the best way to approach this application and the specific requirements that each party has under this arrangement.

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