If you are interested in working in Australia on a temporary basis, one of the most common programs is the 457 business visa. This program enables businesses to employ an overseas worker for up to four years. The worker can bring other eligible secondary applicants with them to Australia. Secondary applicants can also work and study.
There have been a number of changes impacting 457 visas over the past few years, with the most recent changes coming into effect as of 1 July 2010.
An employer must be approved as a sponsor in order to employ skilled workers from overseas. Businesses which do not have a formal operating base or representation in Australia may apply to bring employees to Australia in some circumstances. Domestic business sponsors must meet certain benchmarks related to the training of Australian citizens and permanent residents.
Since 27 June 2009, there has been a requirement for business sponsors to demonstrate that they have a strong record of, or a demonstrated commitment to employing local labour and non-discriminatory employment practices. In order to demonstrate their commitment to the training of Australians, businesses can either:
• pay the equivalent of at least two per cent of recent payroll expenditure to an industry training fund related to the applicant’s business; or
• provide evidence of spending the equivalent of one per cent of payroll on training for their employees who are Australian citizens or permanent residents.
In addition, in order for a business to qualify as a sponsor, there must be nothing “adverse” known about the business or a person associated with the business. This includes matters such as convictions, a finding of non-compliance, investigations, etc.
Generally, in order for an employer to fill a position with an overseas worker, the position must be on the list of approved occupations for 457 visas. This list was revised as of 1 July 2010. It includes a wide range of skilled occupations ranging from farmers, managers, accountants, lawyers, editors, writers, IT specialists, engineers, scientists, skilled tradesmen, etc. Employers must also certify that the duties of the position match the government definition of the occupation and that the qualifications and experience of the applicant meet the skill level specified in the definition. The required skill level has changed for a number of occupations, and the details of the tasks and duties have also been modified.
Visa applicants working in trade occupations must generally complete an English language skills test in order to qualify for a 457 visa. However, there is an exemption from English language testing where the salary level is over a minimum threshold. As of 1 July 2010, the threshold for the exemption is $85,090.
The 457 visa also includes certain minimum salary requirements. As of 1 July 2010, the Commonwealth Government increased the minimum base salary an employee must receive to $47,480. This figure represents the minimum salary for a position to be eligible for sponsorship. Employers are required to pay the market rate salary where the market rate for the position is higher than $47,480. In most cases, it is necessary to show that an Australian employed by the business is paid the same amount or less than the overseas worker. There is an exemption to the requirement to pay market rate where the position pays more than $180,000.