Last month Assistant Minister for Immigration Michaela Cash announced the Federal government’s response to the independent review into the integrity of the subclass 457 visa programme.
There were 27 recommendations from the review and 22 of them the government fully supported.
Some of the recommendations that were supported by the Government include:
- The Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) is to be retained at $53,900p.a for the next two years.
- It will be unlawful for sponsors accepting payment from visa applicants for a migration outcome and this will be reinforced by a robust penalty and conviction framework.
- Business sponsors will be accepted for five years and start-up business sponsors will be approved for 18 month
- English language requirements will be less difficult and offer greater flexibility to industries or businesses can seek concessions to the English language requirement for certain occupations
- Current training benchmarks will be replaced by an annual contribution to a government training fund, which will be reinvested into training and support initiatives, including job readiness, life skills and outreach programs for disengaged Australian group
- Close collaboration between the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and the DIBP to uphold the integrity of the subclass 457 visa programme
- The government gives further consideration to a regional concession to the TSMIT, but only in limited circumstances where evidence clearly supports such concession.
- A summary of visa holder rights prepared by DIBP and the Fair Work Ombudsman’s Fair Work Information Statement, to be included as part of the signed employment contract.
What are the benefits?
In terms of a fair and robust framework, most recommendations uphold the integrity of the 457 programme and it will be strengthened by these changes. There will be laws to protect workers’ rights and programs’ to build social cohesion. The move from a 12 month start-up business sponsorship to an 18 month sponsorship is a win for local start-ups.
What are the limitations?
The independent review remains stagnated on the TSMIT. By retaining the $53,900p.a TSMIT, there have been little concessions for regional Australia. Despite a recommendation to consider regional concessions, there isn’t a 100% commitment to help low population areas.
There was one recommendation that was not supported:
- That consideration be given to expanding the list of nationalities that are exempt from the need to demonstrate they meet the English language requirement.
Migrants from the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada, New Zealand and the Republic of Ireland are exempt from competent English tests. This makes sense. With 178,200 New Zealanders migrating to Australia in the last 8 years, it would mean a lot of English tests to mark for the immigration department. Perhaps the number six is the only word New Zealanders struggle to pronounce correctly.
There were four recommendations that were supported in principle.
- That before decision-makers refuse a nomination on the basis of the genuine position requirement, the sponsor be invited to provide further information to the decision-maker
- A new three-way ministerial advisory council, which is not necessarily prescribed in legislation, is established to report to government on skilled migration issues.
- That consideration is given to the allocation of more resources to programmes aimed at helping sponsors understand and comply with their obligations, whether those programmes are delivered directly to sponsors or through the migration advice profession.
- That the department investigate the feasibility of system improvements that facilitate greater linkages with information held by other government agencies.
To read the Migration Institute of Australia’s full report click here