457 Visa Changes Explained for Employers – What are they and how do they affect your business? | AMVL Migrations
Employers have probably been aware of the Government’s decision to overhaul the current 457 visa, and the Budget changes to training benchmarks. Here is a summary of these changes and how they may affect businesses sponsoring foreign employees, now and in the future.
457 visas still exist, and employees holding them are not currently affected by changes. Prospective employees who have applied for 457s and will apply for 457s in the future will be affected by the changes already introduced. Further changes to be introduced will affect more applicants and employers.
What changes have already been made?
The occupations which can be sponsored for a 457 visa have been restricted.
As of 19 April, occupations lists SOL and CSOL, have been renamed as Medium and Long Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) and Short-Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL). The maximum length of a visa for an occupation listed on STSOL is 2 years or if listed on MLTSSL, 4 years. For current applicants for a 457 visa awaiting a decision, these new visa periods will apply.
216 occupations have been completely removed from the lists including Biochemist, Biotechnologist, Environmental Health Officer, Life Scientist and Procurement Manager.
Caveats have been added to a further 59 occupations which limits access to these occupations. For example, caveats are in place for General Accountants which excludes positions that fall under clerical, book keeper and accounting clerk positions, and also excludes accounting positions in businesses with an annual turnover of less than $1 Million and positions in businesses with less than five employers. Again these changes apply to all lodged but not decided nomination applications.
What if I sponsored someone for a 457 and the occupation is now removed?
If the nomination or visa application was lodged on or before 18 April 2017 and it has not yet been decided, it will not be approved. You will receive an offer to withdraw the nomination and visa application and a refund of the fees may be possible.
What if an employee has been granted a 457 visa already and the occupation has been removed?
For employees who already hold a 457 visa, and that occupation has been removed, the visa is not affected. It is still a valid visa and the employee can continue to work in the nominated occupation for the duration of the visa period. However the employee will not be eligible for another 457, and their eligibility to apply for a permanent visa may be affected depending on how long they have held the current visa. Please refer to the information on the upcoming changes to the permanent sponsored visas.
What changes are still expected?
Changes to the 457 visas will roll out throughout 2017, with major changes occurring from March 2018.
From 1 July 2017
STSOL and MLTSSL will be reviewed
Applicants with a salary greater than $96,000 will no longer exempt from meeting the English language requirements.
Police checks will be mandatory.
By 31 December 2017
Salaries of 457 visa holders will be matched with records from the Australian Taxation Office to ensure visa holders aren’t being paid less than their nominated occupation salary.
Details of sponsors who have been sanctioned for failing to meet their sponsorship obligations will be published.
From March 2018
The 457 visa will be abolished and replaced with the Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa with a Short Term stream lasting 2 years and a Medium-term stream for four years. For the Short Term stream, visa holders will be allowed to renew their visa once from onshore and for the Medium-term stream, a pathway to permanent residency is available after 3 years.
While there is no available legislation on the new visas, it has been announced that the general requirements will be as follows:
Mandatory labour market testing
Employers must pay the Australian market salary rate and income threshold requirements
Mandatory overseas police checks
Vocational English will be required
New training requirements for employers will be introduced requiring a contribution to a training fund for each applicant sponsored. Recent budget announcements have indicated that this will be $1200 (per 457 visa holder) for small businesses for every year that they employ a temporary visa worker and a one-off payment of $3000 for each employee they sponsor for a permanent skilled visa.
Businesses with turnover of more than $10 million will be charged $1800 per worker a year and a $5000 one-off levy for permanent skilled visas.
It’s not yet clear how transition arrangements from current training benchmarks will be managed.
How can AMVL help?
At AMVL we have employer-sponsored visa specialists who can help you navigate these changes. Current 457 visa holders, prospective applicants and current or new business sponsors are welcome to contact our team for assistance and advice.