Following the publication of the independent review into the Temporary Skilled (Subclass 457) visa program, the federal government announced on 18 March 2015 its intention to implement a number of the proposed changes to ‘increase flexibility and reduce restrictions on 457 programme users while maintaining integrity in the programme’.

Despite growing suspicions that this would be another ‘broken promise’, the government has now implemented the following changes from 18 April 2015.

English language

An applicant can now satisfy the English language requirement by obtaining an average score of five across all components of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), rather than a score of five in each component (reading, writing, speaking and listening).  The number of English language tests has also been increased to include the following in addition to IELTS:

  • Occupational English Test (OET)
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language internet-based test (TOEFL iBT)
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic test
  • Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) test

Exemptions to the English language requirement will also be granted when an applicant can provide evidence of five cumulative (rather than consecutive) years of study in English at the secondary or tertiary level.

Standard Business Sponsorship term

The term of a standard business sponsorship has been extended from 3 years to 5 years.

Start-up businesses will also benefit from an increase in the term of their standard business sponsorship from 12 months to 18 months, giving start-up businesses a greater grace period to establish lawful operations in Australia.  457 visas granted to employees of start-up businesses will also now be granted for 18 rather than 12 months.

Market salary exemption threshold

Employers will no longer be required to demonstrate that highly paid 457 applicants will be paid in line with the Australian market in cases where the visa holder will be paid in excess of $180,000 (down from the existing threshold of $250,000).  This brings the threshold in line with the marginal tax rate.  The Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) has also been frozen at $53,900.

MARN 1460940