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Subclass 457 changes: a labour agreements perspective

It has been a year of change for the subclass 457 visa program. In our previous blog post about the 457 program in July, Kate wrote about the changes to the subclass 457 visa and how they will affect Australian businesses. In this blog post we will review the changes from a labour agreements perspective.

While the majority of changes to the subclass 457 visa will affect sponsors under the standard business sponsorship program, there are some changes that will apply to new and existing labour agreements.

About three per cent of all subclass 457 visas are granted under labour agreements. At June 2013 there were 162 labour agreements in effect and a further 71 under negotiation.

Some of the legislative changes that affect both labour agreement sponsors and their sponsored workers include:

  • Commencement of work—sponsored 457 visa holders must commence work with their sponsor within 90 days of arriving in Australia.
  • Finding a new sponsor—subclass 457 visa holders who cease employment with their sponsoring employer have 90 days to find a new sponsor or depart Australia.
  • English language requirement—occupational English test score of ‘B’ in each of the four test components is now accepted for 457 visa applications, bringing this element of the subclass 457 program into alignment with the Employer Nomination Scheme.
  • English exemptions—-occupation based exemptions to the English language requirement have been removed, with the assessment of generalist occupations strengthened.
  • Skills assessments—applicants nominated in a generalist occupation, such asprogram and project administrator and specialist manager not elsewhere classified, must now undertake a formal skills assessment.

More information about the 1 July subclass 457 visa reforms is available on our website.

Existing and prospective labour agreement sponsors should also note that the temporary skilled migration income threshold increased from $51 400 to $53 900 on 1 July 2013.

For more information about labour agreements, visit the department’s website or email the specialist team for your industry:

Resources sector employers: resource.agreements@immi.gov.au
On-hire employers: on-hire.industy@immi.gov.au
Meat processing employers: meat.industry@immi.gov.au
All other industries and employers: labour.agreement.section@immi.gov.au