Government Releases Media Statement on Changes to 457 Visa Programme

On Tuesday 14 October the Government issued a joint media statement with Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Minister for Industry Ian McFarlane and Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Scott Morrison commenting on the 457 visa programme. The review aims to reform skilled migration to improve Australia’s competitiveness.

The statement is a response to the independent review conducted last month by former public servant John Azarias (see FCB Smart Visa’s 12 Sept news story).

The Government has committed to:

  • streamline the processing of sponsorship, nomination and visa applications to reward low risk applicants and refocus compliance and monitoring activities on high risk applicants;
  • increase the sponsorship approval period from 12 to 18 months for start-up businesses, to give start-ups more time to make their businesses sustainable;
  • provide greater flexibility in relation to English language testing and skill requirements for 457 applicants, to ensure that the standards required are appropriate for the industries and occupations being sought; and
  • retain the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold at $53 900, ahead of a review within the next two years.

What does this mean for employers?

Full details of the changes will be released in due course but it is clear the programme seeks to identify and fill genuine gaps in the local labour market while taking some of the administrative burden away from businesses.

Additionally, the increased flexibility around language testing requirements will come as a relief to employers who require the ability to place people urgently.

It should however be noted that there were 22 recommendations in the recently released review of the 457 Programme, and these included the abolishment of Labour Market Testing, examination of the application fee structure, and simplified access to Labour Agreements, among many others.

Employers are likely to be hoping for more of the recommendations to be included in the final changes to be implemented; it is very difficult to tell whether this will be the case given the summarised nature of the media release.

FCB Smart Visa will update you on any further developments as information is released.