The Gillard Government has announced a new accreditation scheme for the 457 work visa program which will allow businesses to gain access to priority processing and approval for six years.
The 457 work visa is a temporary residence visa which allows a non-Australian to live and work in Australia, if they are sponsored by an Australian company and receive a salary exceeding $49,330 plus superannuation.
Immigration Minister Chris Bowen stated: This new scheme recognises that many Australian businesses have a long history of dealing with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) and an excellent record of compliance with workplace and migration laws”.
“From 7 November, these businesses will be able to seek accreditation that qualifies them for sponsorship approval of six years rather than the current three, as well as ensuring faster processing times for all future subclass 457 nominations and visa applications.”
Businesses will need to meet certain additional benchmarks to qualify for accredited status, including being an active 457 visa sponsor for the past three years and a commitment to ensuring at least 75 per cent of their domestic workforce is Australian.
Use of the subclass 457 visa program is increasing, with 54,360 subclass 457 primary visas granted in 2010-11, an increase of 38.2 per cent compared to the same period the year before. The UK was the most popular source country, with 11,820 primary applicants granted visas.
The median processing time for a subclass 457 visa is currently 22 days, according to DIAC, or 6 days if a registered migration agent uses the decision ready program.
Figures released by DIAC show that Irish citizens were granted 1,460 primary 457 visas in the last year until 30 September 2011, a significant increase on the figure of 830 for the same period in 2010
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