The immigration system in Australia is progressive and is aimed at reducing shortages in skilled labour. There are a number of issues relating to changes in this system that are receiving a lot of media attention. These changes range from employee requirements to employers requirements. This system uses a temporary work visa that allows skilled individuals to migrate to Australia and provide skilled services to an approved business. The Visa issued is known as the subclass 457 work visa. Through this system, Australian and overseas employers are allowed to sponsor a skilled worker to work in Australia for a period not more than four years. This usually occurs when the sponsoring business has been unable to secure a skilled worker who is an Australian citizen or has permanent residency in Australia. Any person is viable for the subclass 457 visa if he has been sponsored by an approved business, or if he possesses the requisite skill for a position instituted by an approved business. The government has set employee and training requirements that need to be meet by both the employer and the employee. A business enterprise that wants to sponsor an overseas worker must apply to be an approved business, give out nominations for occupation positions and the name of employees they want to outsource. It must also ensure that the overseas workers to be recruited fill out nomination positions, act as a sponsor for visa application, and ensure there is full cooperation with the immigration department of Australia. The overseas worker, on the other hand, is required to accept the employment offer from the sponsoring employer, satisfy all the 457 visa conditions and must apply for the visa. The Government of Australia has set Visa employer and employee requirements that regulate overseas employee recruitment under work visa 457.
The revised subclass 457 work visa program is currently receiving a lot of media coverage and, therefore, should be discussed in order to address the issues in question. There are a number of changes that currently have been made concerning skilled migration (commonly known as the temporary work visa for skilled workers) under subclass 457. Starting from 1 July 2013, the government has increased the application fee for nomination by a margin of $245 from $85 to $330. This is attributed to the real cost that is incurred in administering and processing of the nominations. Another reason for this increase in fee is the attempt to bring the visa system for Australia at par with international benchmarks. This current issue applies only to the skilled overseas employee under Subclass 457 (skilled migration) work visa programme.
Starting from 1 July 2013, the government has set new training benchmarks that need to be fulfilled by a business that want to become standard sponsors. There is an ongoing requirement of a business to train a set threshold of permanent resident and Australian citizen workers. The Business sponsors are now also required to maintain training records for employees. The employer must demonstrate a genuine need for the skill and indicate the number of workers that he is willing to sponsor. There are multiple requirements that existed before 1 July 2013, that have been modified and are expected to be met under that Subclass 457 program. Other modifications apart from those discussed above include a review of assessment for generalist occupation skills, salary rate, employer-employee relationship, sponsorship costs and sponsorship terms for start-up businesses, term of employment and government’s monitoring capacity.
The changes made concerning the 457 visa have received media coverage across Australia and the world in general. One such media report, is the one made by the human capital magazine that pose a question to the various stakeholders of the 457 visa, about their readiness for the current changes. The article in the human capital magazine was published on 25 March 2013 authored by Iain Hopkins. The key issues discussed in this article are the changes that have been made regarding the 457 Visa. It has outlined the new requirements that have been implemented to be satisfied by the sponsoring business. One of the essential issues noted is that, the department of immigration want to ensure that Australian workers who are skilled, qualified and readily available for a position, are given priority of employment. This is as a result of the new requirements stating that the approved business sponsor must present a genuine reason for outsourcing a migrant skilled worker. The writer has also noted that these changes have established significant costs applicable to the sponsoring employer. The costs include recruitment costs, nomination fees, provision of market rate salary and cost liability of a return ticket for the skilled migrant to country of origin. The issue of changes in the 457 visa is news worthy since they are informative to the various 457 visa stakeholders about the current regulations. The issue is also newsworthy since it affects a huge number of people and sectors in the economy. This report by Iain Hopkins will inform the stakeholders about future requirements and thus keeping them in the loop.
The issue of skilled migration is the essential factor that dictates the rate of outsourcing of skilled workers from all over the world by business operating in Australia. It affects the labour market since it dictated the composition of the labour force in terms of residency of the workers. There perceived abuses concerning the 457 visa that calls for the government to act. Some employers are discriminating the locals by using the visa program since migrant workers provided cheaper labour than the locals. The government has, therefore, taken actions to mend all loopholes that are present in the 457 program. This will ensure that unscrupulous employers do not outsource temporary overseas workers at the expense of local job seekers. This why the Australian government has modified the 457 visa programme requirements. One of the actions that will discourage inappropriate employment of overseas workers is the revised market salary rate. The salary rate for the temporary migrant has been harmonised with the local employee’s market rate. Employing a foreign worker will have no cost advantage over hiring a local worker in terms of salary paid. This move will encourage the local business to employee the skilled local workers. Employers are now require to make local advertisement on available employment vacancies before outsourcing from overseas. The government is continuously monitoring the activities of approved sponsors to evaluate their compliance with the set standards. The monitoring activity happens over the period of approved sponsorship and even after the approval has ceased. There are consequences that befall those who fails to comply with this requirement. Consequences include being barred from approved sponsorship, cancelling of current approvals, fines and issuance of an infringement notice that amounts to AUD 33,000 for a corporate and AUD 1,320 applicable to an individual. All these actions undertaken by the government are meant to maintain an efficient skilled migration and labour program.
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Hopkins, I., 2013. Are you Ready for 457 Visa Changes?. [Online] Available at: http://www.hcamag.com/hr-news/are-you-ready-for-457-visa-changes-173912.aspx[Accessed 6 November 2013].
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