Overhaul of Australian Temporary-Worker-Visa-Program Makes Permanent Visas More Attractive

 Overhaul of Australian Temporary-Worker-Visa-Program Makes Permanent Visas More Attractive


The Australian Department of Immigration has introduced a number of changes to the 457 temporary worker visa program so far in 2009, and further changes have been announced which amount to a complete overhaul of the 457 visa system. The 457 visa program allows employers to sponsor workers for a visa lasting up to 4 years. Permanent comentarium.com  employer sponsored options are unaffected by the changes, making them more attractive than 457 visas in many ways.

The changes have been in response to a number of concerns. Firstly, there is a perception that employers rely too heavily on the 457 program in a time where the unemployment rate in Australia has been rising. Secondly, there have been several examples of employers who have abused the 457 system leading to exploitation of workers.

Minimum Salary Level

There will be an increase in the Minimum Salary Level from 1 July 2009. The changes will result in an increase in the applicable minimum salary of 4.1% for all workers currently on a 457 visa.

The minimum salary levels for workers sponsored after 1 July 2009 will be as follows:

Non-IT Occupations: $45,221 (currently $43,440)

IT Occupations: $61,919 (currently $59,480) Benefit to Australia

Since February 2009, the Department of Immigration has been requesting evidence of the benefit to Australia of sponsoring the relevant employee at the nomination and visa application stage of the 457 process. Establishing benefit to Australia has always been a requirement for approval as a business sponsor, albeit one which the Department of Immigration has not actively policed.

Employers are now being asked to provide information on any redundancies which have occurred within the business, evidence of efforts made to recruit local workers and specific benefits of sponsoring each worker. This has introduced significant delays in the application process.

Minimum Salary to be Based on Market Rate

In addition to the above increases in the Minimum Salary Level, the Minister for Immigration has announced that from 1 September 2009 the required salary level will be based on a “market rate”. At this point, there are not many details on how this will be calculated.

However, it is likely that the market rate requirement will only apply where the remuneration package is under $100,000. The following sources of information are likely to be considered in estimating the market rate:

Salary paid for equivalent positions in the business;

Rate set by any Collective Agreements in effect

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Data

The Department has already taken measures to implement this policy – sponsors have been requested in some cases to provide copies of employment contracts for employees in similar positions to the 457 applicant.

English Language Ability for Trade Applicants



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