Changes to the 457 visa from 19th April 2016
Address inappropriate use of the Subclass 457 programme by imposing an obligation on standard business sponsors to require them not to engage in recruitment practices which discriminate against potential employees on the grounds of immigration status or citizenship;
The measure in Schedule 1 creates a new sponsor obligation in Division 2.19 of Part 2A of the Regulations to require standard business sponsors to refrain from engaging in discriminatory recruitment practices. ‘Discriminatory recruitment practice’ is deemed to mean a recruitment practice that directly or indirectly discriminates against a person based on the immigration status or citizenship of the person, other than a practice engaged in to comply with a Commonwealth, State or Territory law.
The new obligation seeks to address a community concern that some employers may be relying on the Subclass 457 programme to employ foreign workers without having regard to the availability of local labour.
Related to the new sponsor obligation, the criteria for approval to become or remain a standard business sponsor (paragraphs 2.59(f) and 2.68(g)) have been amended to require a written declaration that the applicant will not engage in discriminatory recruitment practices. The provisions also retain the existing requirement for an attestation that the applicant has a strong record of, or a demonstrated commitment to, employing local labour.
Streamline the processing of Subclass 457 visa applications by requiring visa applicants to enter details of a nomination by a sponsor or proposed sponsor when making internet visa applications;
Remove visa criteria which require provision of evidence of English language proficiency by Subclass 457 visa applicants who are already required to demonstrate such proficiency to obtain occupational registration or licensing;
English language criteria
These amendments improve the flexibility and eficiency of the Subclass 457 programme, and simplify requirements for certain visa applicants, by amending the English language criteria for the Subclass 457 visa. Previously, applicants were required to provide evidence of English language proficiency to the Department, via specifieed test results, even if they were able to demonstrate English proficiency by test results, or by some other means, that was satisfactory to Australian occupational licensing or registration authorities. In circumstances where the registration and licencing authorities impose and assess English language requirements, it is duplication and ‘red tape’ for the Department to require the same or equivalent evidence via specified test results. The amendment repeals a criterion which imposed such a requirement (paragraph 457.223(4)(ea)). In addition, to give full effect to the policy of reliance on assessment by occupational licensing and registration authorities, it is necessary to amend the instrument under subclause 457.223(11) so that visa applicants are exempt from the Department’s English language testing requirements if they have already met the same or higher English language requirements to gain an occupational registration or license. That instrument is amended with effect from the commencement date of this regulation. The changes do not adversely impact English proficiency levels in the 457 programme.
Photo credits Arthur Picton