01 April 2009
Temporary Australian visa program (Subclass 457) to undergo reform
The temporary Australian visa program (Subclass 457) is undergoing changes so that the Australian Government can better protect foreign workers from exploitation.
The Subclass 457 visa is an uncapped temporary Australian visa program that allows employers to sponsor foreign workers to work in Australia for up to four years in their company, if they can prove that local Australian workers cannot fill that position.
Last year saw record numbers of people emigrating to Australia temporarily on the 457 visa program, with an average of 700 Australian visa applications lodged per week for the 457 program, while the beginning of 2009 saw a slow-down in response to the economic downturn, so that in the first three months offshore applicants lodged an average of 430 Australian visa applications for the Subclass 457 per week.
After extensive reviews in 2008, the temporary Australian visa program will be refurbished to protect those workers who have been exploited by employers, many of which had low English language ability and did not have the skills required for their position. Last year, the Government introduced a minimum salary level (MSL) for 457 visa holders and increased the power of immigration officials to inspect the working conditions and workplaces of temporary Australian visa holder employers.
Further changes to the temporary Australian visa program were announced today by the Government. These include:
- As of 01 July 2009, all 457 visa holders will have an MSL that "keeps pace" with local wages, which will be indexed at 4.1 per cent.
- As of mid-September 2009, a market-based MSL for 457 visa holders will be implemented.
- All 457 visa holders working in trade occupations and chefs positions will need a higher English language ability requirement (5 IELTS from 4.5 IELTS). This aligns the English language requirement for those needed for a permanent Australian employer-nominated visa for trades' occupations.
- As of 01 July 2009, 457 visa applicants from high risk immigration countries will have to pass skills assessments for trades occupations and chefs.
- The Government will step up its monitoring of employers to ensure they are exhausting the local labour market before hiring overseas workers.
- Training benchmarks will be introduced so that employers can prove they have up-skilled workers to the best of their ability before employing overseas workers.
- All ASCO 5-7 occupations will have the labour agreement pathway extended to include them.
The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with emigrating to Australia.