Accredited sponsorship criteria changes to benefit lower users of the 457 visa programme

28 Jun 17

AUSTRALIA

IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? The requirements to become an accredited sponsor in the Subclass 457 visa programme are set to change.

What does the change mean? Effective 1 July, Standard Business Sponsors must meet the required characteristics of one of four categories in order to qualify as an accredited sponsor. One category will be designed specifically for low-volume users of the 457 programme with at least 90 percent Australian workers. The other categories are reserved for government agencies, Australian Trusted Traders and high-volume 457 sponsors with at least 75 percent Australian workers. Accredited sponsors receive priority processing in the visa application process. Sponsorship is valid for six years.

  • Implementation timeframe: 1 July 2017.
  • Visas/permits affected: Subclass 457 visas.
  • Who is affected: Businesses seeking accredited sponsorship status for the Subclass 457 visa programme. Existing Accredited Sponsors will not be affected by the changes.
  • Business impact: The changes will have a particular impact on low-volume 457 programme users who have a high percentage of Australians in their workforce, as they will be afforded a new way to qualify as accredited sponsors provided they can meet other criteria.

Additional information: The changes to the accredited sponsorship programme are one of a host of immigration changes set to take effect 1 July. Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection said the accredited sponsorship changes will be made to make sure that lower risk sponsors have greater opportunities to have access to streamlined processing services.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection said the new accreditation categories and required characteristics will be as follows:

Category Required Characteristics
Category 1 (government agencies)
  • Australian workers must comprise at least 75 percent of workforce in Australia.
Category 2 (Australian Trusted Traders)
  • Australian workers must comprise at least 75 percent of workforce in Australia.
  • All 457 holders must be employed under a written contract that meets the minimum employment entitlements required under National Employment Standards (unless their occupation is exempt).*
  • All Australian employees must be paid in accordance with an Enterprise Agreement or an internal salary structure that reflects current market salary rates for all company jobs.*
Category 3 (companies with a low volume of 457 visa holders but a high percentage of Australian workers)
  • Australian workers must comprise at least 90 percent of workforce in Australia.
  • All 457 holders must be employed under a written contract that meets the minimum employment entitlements required under National Employment Standards (unless their occupation is exempt).*
  • All Australian employees must be paid in accordance with an Enterprise Agreement or an internal salary structure that reflects current market salary rates for all company jobs.*
  • Sponsor must be publicly listed or a private company with at least A$4 million in annual turnover for the past two years.
  • Sponsor must be an active 457 sponsor for at least the past two years.
  • Sponsor must have sponsored at least one primary 457 visa holder in the two years before applying for accreditation.
  • Sponsor must have a non-approval rate of less than 3 percent for past two years.
  • Sponsor must have no adverse monitoring outcomes.
  • Sponsor must provide details of all business activities undertaken by company.*
  • Sponsor must provide details of company principals and directors.*
Category 4 (companies with a high volume of 457 visa holders but a medium percentage of Australian workers)
  • Sponsor must meet all criteria in Category 3, except: (1) Australian workers must comprise at least 75 percent of workforce in Australia and (2) must have sponsored at least 10 primary 457 visa holders in the two years before applying for accreditation.

*These characteristics require additional supporting documentation.

Eligible Standard Business Sponsors that meet one of the Accredited Status categories can apply for accredited status under the new rules by lodging a sponsorship variation application on or after 1 July.

BAL Analysis: While accredited sponsorship has be a good option for high-volume 457 visa sponsors in the past, the third category may present a good option for lower-volume 457 visa sponsors who have a high percentage of Australian workers in their Australian operations. Contact your BAL professional with questions about becoming an accredited sponsor or the steps that must be taken to obtain this status.

This alert has been provided by BAL Australia. For additional information, please contact australia@balglobal.com.

MARN: 0101248

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