Strengthening the integrity of the 457 visa program – reforms for the 457 visa

The following information is for Doctors, General Practitioners, Registered Nurses and other Health Professionals seeking a position in Australia and require a work visa:

On 23 February 2013, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship announced a number of reforms to the subclass 457 program. These reforms are aimed at strengthening the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s capacity to identify and prevent employer practices that are not in keeping with the criteria of the subclass 457 program.

The measures being brought forward include:

  • introducing a requirement for the nominated position to be a genuine vacancy within the business. Discretion will be introduced to allow the department to consider further information if there are concerns the position may have been created specifically to secure a 457 visa without consideration of whether there is an appropriately skilled Australian available.
  • introducing a provision to allow the department to take action against sponsors who engage in discriminatory recruitment practices.
  • strengthening the market salary rate requirements to provide discretion to consider comparative salary data for the local labour market when deciding whether a nominated position provides equitable remuneration arrangements. Additionally, the market salary exemption threshold will be increased from $180,000 to $250,000 to ensure that higher paid salary workers are not able to be undercut through the employment of overseas labour at a cheaper rate.
  • strengthening the English language requirements by removing exemptions for applicants from non-English speaking backgrounds who are nominated with a salary less than $92,000 and requiring applicants who were exempt from the English language requirement when granted a visa to continue to be exempt from, or to meet the English language requirement when changing employers. Additionally, the definition of English language will be better aligned with the permanent Employer Sponsored.
  • strengthening the requirement for sponsors to train Australians by introducing an ongoing and binding requirement to meet training requirements for the duration of their approved sponsorship.
  • clarifying that 457 workers may not be engaged in unintended employment relationships by requiring workers to be engaged on an employment contract (as opposed to a business contract for services) and not on-hired to an unrelated entity unless they are sponsored under a labour agreement, or in an exempt occupation.
  • strengthening the existing obligation regarding recovery of costs to ensure that sponsors are solely responsible for certain costs.

When will the changes happen?
The comprehensive suite of measures will be introduced on 1 July 2013. In the lead up to the changes, detailed information will be made available to assist sponsors and visa holders and their representatives understand the new requirements.

How will the changes affect current 457 visa holders?
There should be no adverse effects on existing visa holders if they are already doing the right thing. However, visa holders should note the changes to English language requirements if they plan to change employment or seek a further 457 visa.

How will the changes affect future 457 visa applicants?
The vast majority of 457 visa applicants who are genuine will not be affected by then changes. In some circumstances applicants whose applications are processed after 1 July 2013 many be required to provide further evidence to demonstrate their claims for a 457 visa.
(Source: Strengthening the integrity of the 457 program – DIAC)

The team of Recruitment Specialists at HealthStaff Recruitment will assist you if you have any queries about the visa changes.