Obtaining a work visa to Australia under subclass 457 could become easier for applicants with proposed changes, recently announced by Australia’s Immigration Minister, Scott Morrison.
A review of the 457 visa was conducted over four months by a panel of four independent experts, commissioned by the Minister of Immigration. The report, based on feedback from 189 submissions and more than 150 stakeholders, included recommendations such as the abolishment of labour market testing, the relaxing of English language requirements and a review of the fee structure.
Australia’s Labor party had previously attacked the 457 scheme and tightened regulations, under Julia Gillard. Mr Morrison said the review found no evidence to back the claims of exploitation of the scheme alleged by Labor.
Labour market testing has made it difficult for employers and employees to recruit foreign workers, as employers must show that there are no suitable workers in Australia before sponsoring a foreign worker. Mr Morrison said that labour market testing was unlikely to be abolished, but he would welcome other changes.
Mr Morrison said he supported the recommendation to relax the English language requirements. “They are restrictive, serving more as an industrial lock out than an honest attempt to ensure appropriate language skills,” he said.“There are more practical and effective ways to achieve what is needed.”
Currently, applicants must speak “vocational” English and may be required to take a language test, such as the International English Language Testing System test (IELTS), requiring a score of at least 5 in each of the four test components of speaking, reading, writing and listening. The report recommended a change from a minimum score of 5 in each module, to an average of 5 across the four modules.
The report also recommended that the government should explore how skills assessments could more appropriately recognise a visa applicant’s experience.
Pathways to residence were also considered, and the following recommendations made:
- That 457 visa holders be required to work for at least two years in Australia before transitioning to the Employer Nomination Scheme or Regional Sponsored MigrationScheme, and that consideration be given to the amount of time required with a nominating employer being at least one year.
- That consideration be given to reviewing the age restriction on 457 visaholders transitioning to the Employer Nomination Scheme or Regional Sponsored MigrationScheme.
- That consideration be given to facilitating access for partners of primary sponsored 457 visa holders to secure permanent residence under the Temporary Residence Transition stream.
For information about obtaining work visas or residence in Australia, contact us.