• Relaxed Requirements for Subclass 457 Visa Holders Seeking Permanent Residence and Other Changes
  • July 14, 2014
  • Law Firm: Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen Loewy LLP - New York Office
  • A new Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) policy that took effect on July 1 makes it easier for Subclass 457 visa holders seeking permanent residence under the Employer Nomination or Regional Sponsored Migration programs to demonstrate that they meet two-year prior employment requirements. The validity of skills assessments used for permanent resident applications is now limited to three years.

    Unlike in previous years, there were no July 1 changes to visa application fees, nor was there an increase to the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) for the Subclass 457 visa program.

    Relaxed Requirements for Subclass 457 Visa Holders Seeking Permanent Residence

    Under the DIBP’s new policy, a Subclass 457 visa holder’s period of continuous employment with the same employer will not be interrupted for permanent residence purposes if the employer undergoes a restructure, takeover or sale, provided that:

    • The foreign national is working in the same position, performs the same duties, and has the same working conditions;
    • The foreign national reports to the same management structure; or
    • The employer retains the same business name and operations, even if considered to be a new legal entity.

    In general, Subclass 457 visa holders seeking permanent residence under the Temporary Residence Transition stream of the Employer Nomination or Regional Sponsored Migration programs must have at least two years’ employment with the same sponsoring employer. In the past, because employers in these circumstances would typically need to apply for a new standard business sponsorship, the two-year clock would reset even if the foreign national’s role and duties remained unchanged.

    The new policy applies to all pending and newly submitted applications as of July 1, 2014, and gives Subclass 457 visa holders more flexibility when seeking permanent residence.

    Validity Period of Skills Assessment

    Skills assessments used in conjunction with permanent residence applications are now limited to a validity period of three years or less, if the assessment itself specifies a truncated duration. Previously, skills assessments did not expire for purposes of visa applications.

    This change may inconvenience permanent residence applicants, as they will have to obtain new skills assessments if they wait too long to apply. DIBP introduced the validity limit to ensure that all applicants meet skills criteria that are current at the time of their application.

    No Changes for Visa Application Charges or Minimum Salary Thresholds; Expansion of Credit Card Surcharge

    The Australian government did not raise visa application fees on July 1 this year, nor did it raise the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) amount for the Subclass 457 visa program. Both were routinely increased on July 1 in previous years.

    However, recently introduced surcharges imposed on credit card payments for visa application fees and other charges have been extended to cover sponsorship and nomination fees, effective July 1. Employers should incorporate the additional surcharges into their budgets for immigration filings.