In the context of Australia’s economic downturn the Immigration Department has announced that they will be taking a new approach to the 457 visa program to ensure that these visas are used to fill gaps in Australian jobs and not to replace them during times of increasing unemployment.
This new approach will require employers and visa applicants to provide further evidence to establish that they meet the criteria for the approval of the applications.
The changes also affect employers who are existing sponsors.
Employers and applicants can expect delays in processing applications.
This new approach involves a stricter application of existing policy requirements on employers as well as higher English language requirements for applicant.
Benefit to Australia
The criterion that employers must demonstrate that they are engaged in activities which benefits Australia will be applied more stringently under the new approach. It seems as though the new approach will put more emphasis on demonstrating these benefits to Australia in the context of the nominated position. In addition, the Department is also likely to be interested in whether employers have laid off any people, especially Australians, whilst employing new people under the 457 visa program.
There will also be more scrutiny of the nominated salary for certain positions. This figure will be compared with average salaries for equivalent positions in that industry, industrial awards and other sources. This scrutiny is intended to ensure not only that visa applicants are being paid enough, but it also trying to address situations were applicants are overpaid with the intention of avoiding the higher English language requirement.
Scrutiny of the Position and the Applicant
The department will also be considering whether the position is genuine, that is ensuring that it was not created especially for the particular applicant. Further attention will be given to whether the applicant is appropriate for the job by assessing his/her employment history, personal attributes and skills.
Record of Training
Employers must demonstrate that they have a satisfactory record of training that is ongoing. It will not be sufficient to promise future undertakings of training, rather evidence will; be required that training has already taken place. The training undertaken will be satisfactory only if it is reasonable given the size and nature of the business and if the subject matter of the training is appropriate for the broader operations of the business.
Capacity to Meet Financial Obligations
Where employer turnover is less than $500, 000 it is likely that more attention will be paid to whether the employer has the financial capacity to meet the financial obligations owed to the applicant employee. These include health costs, superannuation and tax payments.
English Language Requirements for the Applicant
English language requirements for some 457 visa applicants have been increased from an IELTS score of 4.5 to 5. This applies to visa applicants in ASCO groups 4 to 7 as well as to chefs and head chefs.
If you are a current employer who would like to sponsor an employee under the 457 visa program or if you are a visa applicant please be advised that there are strategies available to address the strict application of these requirements.
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