contents of this article are correct as at 9 November 2011.
On 7 November 2011, DIAC introduced a new 457 sponsorship accreditation scheme that allows employers to gain access to priority processing, and be approved as a sponsor for six years (rather than the standard three). The Minister has introduced this scheme in response to the 40% increase in the use of the 457 visa program in the latest financial year.
The aim of the 457 visa program is to provide a fast and flexible process for Australian employers to recruit overseas workers into skilled positions, when they have been unable to fill vacancies from the local labour market.
What are the benefits for an employer who obtains Accredited Sponsor status?
An employer with Accredited Sponsor status should benefit as follows:
- Priority processing of 457 nomination applications; and
- Priority processing of 457 visa applications
The aim of the scheme is to reduce processing times from 6-8 weeks to 10 working days.
Accredited Sponsor status is valid for six years. If a sponsor does not maintain the eligibility criteria mentioned above, Accredited Status can be revoked which means priority processing will be retracted. The validity length of the sponsorship cannot be changed, and will remain at six years.
Eligibility for Accredited Sponsor status
An employer will need to satisfy the following criteria:
- Be a government agency, a publicly listed company, or a private company, with a minimum of $4 million turnover per year over the last three years;
- Have been an active Subclass 457 visa sponsor for the past three years (with a break of no more than six months, which was not due to any sanction);
- Have no adverse information known of it based on DIAC and DEEWR monitoring, including formal warnings and sanctions;
- Have had at least 30 primary Subclass 457 visa applications granted in the previous 12 months;
- Have lodged a high level of Decision Ready applications over the previous two years;
- Have a non-approval rate of less than three percent during the previous three years; and
- Have Australian workers comprising at least 75 percent of its workforce in Australia, and have made a commitment to maintain this level.
How does an employer apply for Accredited Sponsor status?
Applications for Accredited Sponsor status are made in the same way as applications for approval as a Standard Business Sponsorship applications, online or using Form 1196S.
An existing 457 sponsor may apply for a variation of their current sponsorship agreement and seek Accredited Sponsor status.
If you would like to discuss your organisation’s eligibility for Accredited Sponsor status or have any questions concerning this article, please click this link to contact Visa Lawyers Australia.