Employer sponsorship has been controversial in recent times and the Department of Immigration continues to make changes.
This article goes through some of the recent trends we have encountered in the 457 and other employer sponsored programs, and also flags some possible changes which may come into effect in 2017.
Cancellations of 457 Visas
Immigration has stepped up its compliance operations and is now much more likely to cancel visas where:
An employee has ceased work; or
In the case of dependent partners, where the relationship has ceased
A typical scenario would be where a spouse relationship has broken down. If this is reported to Immigration, the dependent partner will receive a Notice of Intention to Consider Cancellation (NOICC). Whilst the partner can put forward reasons for not cancelling the visa, this is happening more often – even if a new visa application has been lodged.
Cessation of employment – 60 rather than 90 Days
Since November 2016, employee who have ceased employment for more than 60 days are considered to be in breach of visa conditions. The 60-day timeframe applies to 457 visa granted on or after 19 November 2016.
The timeframe was previously 90 days, so this means 457 holders have less time now to find a new 457 sponsor if they finish employment.
457 holders who cease employment for more than 60 days are now more likely to face cancellation, so it’s very important to be aware of this if ceasing employment.
Possible Changes to Consolidated Sponsored Occupations List (CSOL)
The Minister for Immigration has indicated on a number of occasions that he is looking to reduce the number of occupations on the approved list for 457 sponsorship, the CSOL.
The Minister has said that this will happen “very soon” but there is no clear timeframe on when this would happen.
The Minister has tasked the Ministerial Advisory Council on Skilled Migration (MACSM) to review the 457 list and their report is due in the first half of 2017.
If a change is made, the most likely date would be 1 July 2017, but the list could be changed at any time by issuing a new Legislative Instrument.
Possible Increase to Minimum Salary for 457 (TSMIT)
The Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) is the minimum a 457 holder can be paid. The current minimum salary is $53,900 and has been at this level since July 2013.
A review of the TSMIT was commissioned by the Minister in December 2015, and was to report to Government in April 2016. To date, we do not have any information on recommendations, or when they would be implemented.
However a recent report from the Australian Population Research Institute suggests that a large number of IT workers are paid at the lowest possible rate, which suggests an increase might be warranted at least for the IT sector.
ENS/RSMS Processing Times – Impact on Training Requirement
Processing times for the permanent Employer Nomination Scheme and Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme are now 8 months in most cases. Because of the long processing time, we are starting to see Immigration requesting updated training information – for the period between lodgement and prior to grant of the ENS nomination.
As a result, it is more important than ever to ensure that the business complies with its 457 training obligation at all times.
Employer sponsorship continues to be under the spotlight.