Australia: Recent migration law changes
On 1 July 2013, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) introduced a raft of changes to the Temporary Work (Skilled) (Subclass 457) visa program that has many, including migration agents, confused.
Below is an outline of the changes that future visa applicants will need to be aware of.
All applications in respect of 457 visas must now be lodged online.
Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT)
As 457 visa holders are generally not eligible for government benefits, a minimum salary threshold (or TSMIT) is set to ensure that 457 visa holders have sufficient money to support themselves in Australia. It also serves to protect migrant workers from being taken advantage of and ensure that the 457 visa program is only used for positions that require skilled and experienced workers, rather than entry-level positions.
TSMIT is indexed regularly to keep in line with the Average Weekly Earnings. As of 1 July, the TSMIT has been increased to $53,900.
Changes to visa condition 8107
Condition 8107 provides that visa holders must only work in their nominated occupation and for the employer who sponsored them. If a visa holder does not comply with condition 8107 then the DIAC would seek to cancel the visa.
Condition 8107 has now been amended to clarify that, if registration or licensing is mandatory to work in an occupation in Australia, a visa holder must hold the required licence, registration or membership for the nominated occupation and comply with the relevant conditions and requirements for that licence, registration or membership.
Visa holders now have up to 90 days (increased from 28 days) in which they must:
(a) first commence work in their nominated position after first arriving in Australia; or
(b) find a new sponsor should they cease work with their sponsoring employer.
The changes outlined above are only a selection of the wider reform of the Temporary Work (Skilled) (Subclass 457) visa program. There are also a large number of amendments that affect visa applicants who lodged prior to 1 July, 2013 but are still awaiting a decision, as well as employer sponsors/nominators.
We recommend that visa applicants and sponsor/nominator employers contact our Migration Agents to ensure that they are not caught out by these amendments. For more information, contact David Grace, Partner, Migration Agent 0742590 on (07) 3231 2421 or Belinda Winter, Partner, Migration Agent 1280120 on (07) 3231 2498.