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The purpose of the Temporary Work (Skilled) Visa Programme is to allow employers to fill short-to-medium term skills shortages by recruiting qualified workers from outside Australia, when local skilled workers cannot be sourced.
In the middle of June 2012, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship identified that the 457 visa subclass was growing at a record rate and that a significant proportion of the growth stemmed from industries and geographical regions that did not appear to have skills shortages. Concern has been growing that industries are not looking locally before seeking employees from overseas. While not illegal, these actions are not in line with the principles of the 457 visa programme.
Programme reforms were implemented on 1 July 2013 in order to improve the integrity of the programme without adversely impacting on businesses with genuine skills shortages. Listed below are some of the new reforms.
- Genuine skills shortages must be proven and requests may be refused if the job falls out-with the eligible occupation list. Previously it was not possible to refuse 457 nominations even if the parameters of the job had been inflated to meet requirements.
- Employers are now restricted to sponsoring the number of 457 workers that were approved in their sponsorship application for the duration of their sponsorship. Previously sponsors were able to sponsor and nominate unlimited numbers of 457 visa holders.
- 457 visa holders must now be employed by their sponsor in a direct ‘employee-employer’ relationship. Before 1 July 2013, employers only had to have evidence that the employee worked for the sponsor or an associated entity of the sponsor.
- Visa holders must now commence work within 90 days of their arrival in Australia – previously no such requirement existed.
- 457 workers now have 90 days to find another sponsor or depart Australia if they cease working for their original sponsor. This has increased from 28 days.
For further information regarding the new 457 visa regulations, please click here.