The Abbott Government has announced amendments to the 457 visa scheme, but what is it and who is eligible?
What is a 457 visa?
The 457 visa was introduced in 1996 and allows skilled workers to be employed in Australia for up to four years.
Applicants must be sponsored by a local business for a specific job, relevant to their skillset.
Although applicants can be inside or outside Australia when lodging an application, more than half of all 457 visa applications issued throughout the 2012-13 financial year were lodged onshore by people who held a temporary visa.
The Abbott Government announced on March 18 that it had adopted most of the recommendations from a review of the 457 visa scheme, with some already implemented.
Others changes will be rolled out this year.
What are the common requirements?
Prior to the adoption of the most recent recommendations, applicants had to speak “vocational” English and may be required to take a language test.
According to the Department of Immigration website, a score of at least 'B' is required in each of the four components of an Occupational English Test. Alternatively, an International English Language Testing System test requires a score of at least 5 in each of the four test components of speaking, reading, writing and listening.
The Department’s site also outlines health and “character” requirements, including a police certificate from the applicant’s country of origin.
Applicants who have served a prison sentence of more than 12 months or have convictions relating to time spent in an immigration detention centre will not meet character requirements.
Key recommendations adopted by the government
- Relaxing English language testing requirements
- Penalties for sponsoring workers in exchange for payment
- Cross checking pay records with tax office
- Appointment of a skilled migration ministerial advisory council
- Better directing money derived from visa scheme to training programs for Australians
- With AAP