• Improvements to Subclass 457 Visa Program Expected
  • April 7, 2015
  • Law Firm: Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen Loewy LLP - New York Office
  • The Australian Government plans to reform the subclass 457 visa program in line with the recommendations presented by the independent review panel last September. Importantly, low-risk applications are expected to be rewarded with a streamlined sponsorship and application process. Because the implementation of these reforms will require interaction among various government entities, the exact timeline will become available progressively over the coming months.

    Key Recommendations

    The government expects to implement the following measures:
    • Streamlined processing of sponsorship, nomination and visa applications for low-risk applications (risk factors include the status of the sponsoring entity, the type of position to be filled and the applicant’s qualifications);
    • More flexible sponsorship requirements;
    • Reduced processing times and fees;
    • Refocused compliance and monitoring activities for high-risk applicants;
    • Improved information sharing among government agencies;
    • Greater flexibility for proof of English language proficiency;
    • Increased sponsorship approval periods; and
    • Resumed use of the Ministerial Advisory Council to advise on the occupations eligible for the 457 visa program.
    The current labor market testing requirements are expected to be retained to ensure that Australian workers are prioritized in recruitment.

    The government is still determining whether current training benchmarks will be replaced with mandatory contributions to a centralized training fund. The government has indicated that this proposal is subject to further development and refinement but may be adopted in the future.

    Future Reforms to Other Programs

    The reform of the subclass 457 visa program is part of a broader government initiative to simplify and deregulate both the temporary work visa and permanent skilled migration programs. Improvements to other immigration programs are expected in stages.

    What This Means for Employers

    If the recommendations are implemented, employers should benefit from a faster and less expensive subclass 457 visa sponsorship process.