Changes To 457 Visas That Affect Employers

A new bill was recently introduced by the Immigration Minister, affecting the ease and simplicity with which Australian employers can hire overseas workers on 457 visas. These changes will make the international sponsorship process more difficult, and instate more pre-requisites for employers.

The first of these changes involves Labour Market Testing. The new legislation may require employers to prove they have done their utmost to hire an employee for the necessary role from within Australia, before attempting to source overseas workers on a 457 visa. Acceptable evidence includes:

changes to 457 visa

– Fees paid for recruitment
– Participation in relevant events such as career expos
– Advertising the relevant position
– Results of recruitment efforts

These changes in legislation also affect the work conditions for 457 visa holders. Employees working in Australia on the 457 visa who want to leave their sponsored job will have 90 days to find a new employed willing to sponsor them. This is a significant increase from the existing 28 days. This means there is less time pressure for the new employer to submit their sponsorship paperwork before the overseas’s employee’s visa is cancelled.

The new bill will also afford more authority to the Fair Work Ombudsman. In an effort to ensure employers adhere to the stipulations of Australian Migration Law, the Ombudsman will have more power to monitor workplaces, and enforce penalties upon employers found to be neglecting elements of their sponsorship agreements. This means employers will be under greater scrutiny by the governing bodies to meet their sponsorship obligations.

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As of November 2013 this legislation has now been active for over four month. The result has been a large decrease in the number of 457 visa holders entering Australia. This is due to the additional red-tape introduced by the legislation making it harder for employers to advertise for a position that a 457 visa hopeful can apply for. Additionally the price of a 457 visa application has almost tripled making it a more expensive exercise for someone looking to enter Australia.

There was a change of leadership in Australia with the former Gillard government (labour) replaced by the new Abbott government (liberal). Analysts consider the liberal government more pro-business compared to labour which had a large focus on workers and unions. This may see 457 visa legislation wound back so that the drop in applications reduces to more manageable levels that balances both the needs of Australian workers and the needs of businesses which continue to face skill shortages in areas such as ICT, mining and engineering.