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The new 457 work visa rules

Yet again the Australian government has changed the visa rules – indeed they seem to do this annually which is why The Migration Place has (since 2002) always recommend that clients apply as soon as we confirm eligibility.
The 457 work visa has been a popular for years as it provided a solution for Australian businesses to find skilled labour, and to retain skilled foreign labour.
The 457 regime has become even more important as Australia embraces the worldwide trend towards innovation and the advancement of technology.
Unfortunately this has all been damaged as a result of abuses by some migration agents, pressure from Union lobby groups (who fear 457s are a threat to wage levels) and political parties (like Pauline Hanson’s One Nation).

We therefore have a new set of changes to work with.
As always The Migration Place is already looking at which parts of the rules are flexible and where relaxations of the general rules can be sought.

The main rules under the new system are as follows:

  1. The Australian business wanting to sponsor an overseas worker, must have a turnover exceeding $1M, remembering:
  2. The employee must have a salary of $65k+ Super (minimum) (this is obviously a reaction to Union lobbying over wage levels).
  3. They have reduced the number of skilled occupations that are eligible.
  4. The normal 4 year period that applies to a 457 has been reduced to 2 years.
  5. To seek permanent residency, you now need:
    1. to have been on a 457 for 3 years.
    2. to be 45 years or younger (before you could be up to 50).
    3. To have a skill which is listed on an even shorter list.

Zeke Bentley of The Migration Place comments as follows:

  1. A 45 year age limit is way too low as many highly skilled people only start to get the requisite experience to operate effectively, in their 40s and 50s…why do these new rules lock them out of eligibility?!
  2. They have reduced the number of skilled occupations that are eligible – this mainly means it is even more important to get an experienced migration lawyer who can look at a few options on the skills classification to ensure you have the correct eligibility, and to ensure it is properly justified and consistent with the entire visa application.
  3. The Australian business needs a $1m turnover to be able to sponsor, noting
    1. Turnover is not profit (so if you have $1m of sales and NO profit, you are still eligible).
    2. There are rules about what can (and cannot) be included (eg GST cannot be included).
    3. It is important to look at the different rules of accounting to see if the turnover requirements are met (or whether they can be met through minor adjustment)…which also means you need a migration lawyer who understands accounting systems, tax and company structures or you risk engaging an agent who does not understand how to ensure the company is eligible.’
  4. Whenever a new visa system comes in, it is wise to apply ASAP – the DIBP tend to be more understanding and relaxed about the rules during the transition, and the waiting queue is almost absent.
  5. These changes are part of an increasing trend towards making visas harder and harder to get…which in turn amplifies the need to get an experienced migration lawyer on your side.

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