• Australia: Higher Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold and Stricter Standards for English Proficiency Test Exemptions for Subclass 457 Visas
  • July 26, 2010
  • Law Firm: Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen Loewy LLP - New York Office
  • Effective July 1, 2010, Australia will implement the following changes for Subclass 457 visas, the primary visa category used by temporary workers: (1) increase in the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) and (2) increase in the salary amount necessary to obtain an exemption from English language proficiency tests.

    Higher Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold

    Effective July 1, an occupation’s market salary rate will have to meet an increased Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) of AUD 47,480 per year to qualify for a Subclass 457 nomination. Applications to nominate an occupation that are still pending on July 1 will need to meet the new TSMIT. Occupations that have a market salary rate which is not greater than the new TSMIT cannot be nominated for a 457 visa.

    Employers must pay 457 visa holders the market salary rate for their occupation to ensure that 457 visa holders are provided the same terms and conditions as equivalent Australian workers. Implemented in September 2009, the TSMIT is the lowest market salary rate an occupation can have in order to qualify for a 457 nomination. If the market salary rate for an occupation is below the TSMIT, that occupation cannot be nominated for a 457 visa, which means an employer cannot fill that occupation with a foreign worker under the 457 program, regardless of how much the employer intends to pay a specific foreign worker to fill the occupation.

    The TSMIT is based on data collated from the Australian Bureau of Statistics Average Weekly Earnings data, and represents the income level considered sufficient for a 457 visa holder to independently provide for him or herself without imposing undue costs on the Australian community.

    Increased Minimum Salary for English Proficiency Test Exemptions

    Beginning July 1, Subclass 457 visa applicants who seek an exemption from the English language proficiency test requirement on the basis of their offered income in Australia must demonstrate a minimum annual salary of at least AUD 85,090, increased from AUD 81,040. The new minimum salary will also apply to foreign nationals whose Subclass 457 visa applications are pending on July 1, if the applicant is claiming an exemption on this ground.

    All other exemptions from the English proficiency testing requirement will remain unchanged. In general, an applicant is exempt from the English proficiency test if (1) he or she is a national of Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, the United Kingdom, or the United States; (2) the occupation to which he or she is nominated does not require English proficiency as part of its registration, licensing or membership requirements; or (3) the nominated occupation is listed as an “exempt occupation” in a legislative instrument. Exempt occupations generally consist of managers, administrators, professionals, and associate professionals.

    A 457 primary visa applicant who does not meet any of the exemptions must demonstrate English language proficiency through an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test score of a least 5 in each of the test’s four components. Applicants may have to meet higher English language proficiency levels if their nominated occupation requires a higher level as part of the occupation’s registration, licensing or membership requirements.

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