Over the past couple of months Migration Solutions have been receiving numerous enquiries regarding the status of 457 visa program, most of which are centred around whether any changes are expected to be made, and if so, what those changes would be.
Unfortunately with the current integrity review still underway, it is impossible to provide any concrete answers to these enquiries.
So far, a number of submissions have been made to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection by industry groups, government departments, businesses, unions and individuals, all flagging various concerns and suggested solutions to the current structure of the 457 visa program.
Among them is Migration Solutions’ own submission, entered under the name of Managing Director, Mark Glazbrook.
“The underlying theme of our submission is that the 457 program needs to be made more accessible to regional and small employers in slow-growth areas,” says Mr Glazbrook.
“Since the removal of concessions that were available under the regional 457 visa, it has been extremely difficult for many businesses in areas affected by skills shortages to continue growing, or in some cases even operating.”
“We are hoping that the outcome of this review will address some of the flaws raised by our submission, and is currently preventing employers from using the program.”
The recommendations included in Migration Solutions submission reflect a number of common employer concerns with the current structure of the 457 program, which make its use unrealistic in all but a handful of cases.
Of these, the key recommendations include the:
- Reinstatement of a regional 457 visa that provides concessions for areas such as South Australia that have low population-growth rates and gross state product.
- Lowering of the minimum-salary threshold (TSMIT) to be in-line with relevant market salary rates and awards.
- Lowering of the English-language requirements to be in-line with other temporary residency visas that are afforded full work-rights (e.g. Working Holiday visa).
- Removal of the training benchmark charge for small businesses with an annual turnover of less than $1 million.
- Removal, or streamlining, of Skill Assessments for 457 visa-holders, who are often required at urgent notice.
What are the likely outcomes of the review, and when will they be known?
“It’s impossible to predict any certain outcomes from the review, but in our opinion there are some that more likely to occur than others,” said Mr Glazbrook.
“Certainly the reinstatement of the regional 457 visa is something that has significant industry support behind it, as well as the lowering of the minimum-salary threshold requirements.
“We’re also quite hopeful English-language requirements will be reduced. Those are probably the biggest issues with the program right now.”
As for when the review could be expected to conclude, Mr Glazbrook could only speculate.
“The Department will cease accepting submissions at the end of this month, and then it will just depend upon how long they take to consider those submissions.”
“As for the conclusion of the review and implementation of any changes, unfortunately we won’t know for sure until the Department make that announcement.”
Mr Glazbrook also noted that the details of a submission made by the South Australian Department of Manufacturing, Trading, Innovation, Trade, Resources and Energy has not been made public, one of only a handful of the 118 submissions listed on the Department website to do so.
“It’s disappointing that the DMTIRE have requested to keep their submission private, it doesn’t say much for a transparency of our state government,” he said.
“We have requested that the details to the submission be made available under the Freedom of Information Act, and will keep readers updated as to the findings we receive.”