Expected Changes to the 457 Visa Program

The Government has announced its response to the 457 Visa Program today, the 18th of March 2015.  Here are some of the highlights:

  1. The English language level will be altered to an IELTS average of 5 overall, with no less than 4.5 in any band.  This is good news for applicants who struggle to get at least 5.0 score in each band of IELTS.
  2. SBS approvals will be extended from 3 to 5 years and from 12 to 18 months for new businesses.
  3. Training Benchmarks A and B will be replaced with an annual training fund contribution based on the number of 457 sponsored and with the contributions scaled according to the size of the sponsoring organisation.
  4. Labour market testing will not be abolished, however, the Department will examine ways to reduce the burden to employers and red tape in this process.
  5. The ATO and the Department have signed an MOU which allows information to be shared on 457 visa holder salaries.

These planned changes can take place within six months from the announcement date.