Subclass 457 Visa Reforms – Temporary Work Skilled Program

Effective 1 July 2013, a number of legislative changes have taken place in an effort to enhance the Subclass 457 Temporary Work Skilled Program.

While the foundations of the program remain unchanged with the changes representing a response to Australia’s economic conditions, there are a number of important amendments to note:

  • All applications, with very limited exceptions, are to be lodged electronically using the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s (‘DIAC’) online lodgement facility. This change also applies to businesses located outside Australia seeking to sponsor staff under the program.
  • Businesses seeking to apply for Business Sponsorship Approval must now nominate the number of positions anticipated to be filled by sponsored employees. Justification in relation to this number must also be provided.
  • Existing business sponsors seeking to renew their approval must demonstrate that they have continued to meet the relevant training benchmarks during the term of their existing approval. Most business sponsors are approved for a term of three years.
  • The Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (‘TSMIT’) has increased to $53,900. Sponsors must show that the position to be filled by the sponsored employee commands a base salary greater than this amount.
  • The market salary exemption has increased from $180,000 to $250,000. Sponsors are not required to demonstrate that they are paying ‘market rate’ for positions offering $250,000 per annum or more.
  • There are now stricter English language requirements in line with the English language thresholds for permanent employer sponsored visas such as the Subclass 186 Employer Nomination Scheme Visa. Exemptions applying to certain professional positions have been removed, though employees nominated with a salary of $96,400 or more will be exempt. Further exemptions are available to nationals of English speaking countries or employees with the requisite level and length of study in English. 
  • There are less visa terms available to sponsored employees sponsored by ‘start-up’ businesses. Twelve months will be the maximum in such circumstances, as oppose to the customary four years.
  • Sponsored employees on the Subclass 457 visa must commence work within 90 days of their arrival in Australia.
  • There is now also  an additional sponsorship obligation requiring sponsors to continue to meet their training benchmarks on an annual basis for the term of a sponsorship approval.
  • Application fees for additional charges for accompanying family members have also been increased and restructured as follows:

 Application Type (Subclass 457)

 DIAC Charge

 457 Nomination Application Fee (accompanying fee for every primary visa application or for sponsorship transfer)

 $330

 457 Visa Application – Primary Applicant (Employee)

 $900

 457 Visa Application – Dependant aged 18 and over

 $900 (per additional dependant)

 457 Visa Application – Dependant aged under 18

$225 (per additional dependant)

Subclass 186 Employer Nomination Scheme Application Fee Increases

The following increases have also been imposed in relation to the Subclass 186 visa:

Application Type (Subclass 457)

DIAC Charge

186 Nomination Application Fee (accompanying fee for every visa application)

$540*

186 Visa Application – Primary Applicant (Employee)

$3060*

186 Visa Application – Dependant aged 18 and over                                                                                               

$1530 (per additional dependant)

186 Visa Application – Dependant aged under 18

$765 (per additional dependant)

*These fees remain unchanged

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