30th July 2014
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457 to PR | Update

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With the recent media attention surrounding the Department of Immigration’s proposed changes to the 457 visa program, it was high time we updated our popular “457 to Permanent Residency” Article. So, if you’re concerned about changes to the 457 visa program and would like to secure your future by becoming an Australian permanent resident, our 457 to permanent residency article is a great starting point. It clearly maps out possible options to help you quickly and easily convert your 457 visa to Australian permanent residency today. Don't forget to take a look at our 457 to Permanent Residency FAQ's .

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Changes to Australia’s Employer-Sponsored Visa Program

Key changes to Australia’s employer-sponsored visa program implemented on 1 July 12 under the former Minister for Immigration are:

  • reduction of current number of Australian visa subclasses related to employer-sponsored visas from six to two visa subclasses. 
  • introduction of one streamlined pathway to permanent residence for current holders of an Australian Temporary Business (Long Stay) subclass 457 visa.
  • increase age limit from 45 years to 50 years.
  • changes to visa eligibility criteria such as the English language and skill requirements.
  • introduction of one consolidated Sponsored Occupation List which will combine the current 457 Occupation List, the ENS Occupation List (ENSOL), and the State/Terriroty Occupation List (StatSOL).

The implementation of these reforms comes about as a result of a 2011 review of Australia’s permanent Employer Sponsored visa program. 

The review noted that employer-sponsored visas are highly responsive to labour market pressures, and thus need to be decided and processed quickly in order to be effective.

The outcome recommended that the above reforms would improve the ability of the program to respond quickly and effectively to labour market demands, and to ensure that limited program places are allocated to migrants who could most benefit Australia’s skill needs and general economy. 


New Visa Structure

The six current employer-sponsored visa subclasses will be condensed into two new visa subclasses:

Falling under each of the two new visa subclasses will be three separate streams as follows:

  • The Temporary Residence Transition Stream – applicable to current holders of an Australian subclass 457 visa, who have worked for their employer for at least the last two years under that visa, and the employer has offered them a permanent position in that same occupation.
  • The Direct Entry Stream – applicable to potential migrants whose skills are not currently utilised within the Australian labour market and who have not held a subclass 457 visa for at least the last two years or are applying directly from outside Australia.
  • The Agreement Stream – applicable to visa applicants who are being sponsored by an employer through a regulated labour agreement or regional migration agreement.

From the implementation date of these reforms, any employer or visa applicant wishing to access Australia’s employer-sponsored program will need to meet the requirements of the particular stream relevant to their application.


Temporary Residence Transition Scheme Requirements

In recognition of the important economic and social contribution skilled 457 visa holders make to Australia, the Australian Government will introduce the Temporary Residence Transition stream in an effort to establish a fast tracked and simplified pathway to permanent residence for these temporary workers. 

The Temporary Residence Transition scheme for a ENS or RSMS Australian visa will be open to current holders of an Australian 457 temporary visa, who have worked for their employer for the last two years where the employer wishes to offer them a permanent position in that occupation.

Requirements:

Employers who wish to nominate a subclass 457 visa holder they currently sponsor for a permanent  residency Australian visa will need to demonstrate that:

  • the nominated position for permanent residence is the same as the position held under a 457 visa sponsorship
  • the nominated position is full time and ongoing and will be available to the potential migrant for a least the next two years
  • the terms and conditions of employment for the nominated position accord with Australian awards, standards and pay rates
  • they are able to meet the subclass 457 training requirement


Note: employers who wish to make a RSMS Temporary Residence Transition visa nomination will also need to demonstrate that their business is actively and lawfully operating in regional Australia.

Visa applicants eligible to apply for a permanent residency Australian visa through the Temporary Residence Transition scheme will need to demonstrate that:

  • they are less than 50 years of age
  • they possess an English language proficiency score of at least 5 in each of the four components of the International English Language Test Score (IELTS) test.

Note:  visa applicants eligible to apply through the Temporary Residence Transition scheme will not need to have their skills and qualifications assessed in order to apply for a permanent visa, because this has already been established as part of the 457 visa application process. 


Agreement Stream Requirements

The Agreement stream is for visa applicants who are currently being sponsored by an employer through a regulated and negotiated labour agreement (or regional migration agreement). 

A labour agreement is a formal arrangement negotiated between an employer and the Australian Government, which defines the conditions and terms of employment for a skilled migrant. Labour agreements are only negotiated where genuine skills shortages exist, and there are no suitably qualified or experienced Australians readily available to fill a vacancy.

The Agreement stream is open to visa applicants who are currently employed by their nominator under an official Labour Agreement. They may apply for an Australian ENS or RSMS visa based upon a nomination for that same occupation. 

Requirements:

Visa applicants applying under the Agreement stream will need to meet all the requirements outlined in their labour agreement, including any skills and experience requirements, English language proficiency requirements, or age requirements as specified in the labour agreement. 


Further information on the new employer-sponsored ENS and RSMS subclasses

These changes will be officially introduced on 1 July 2012, along with the Australian Government's new Skill Select program. From this date onwards, both sponsors and visa applicants will be able to apply for the new permanent employer-sponsored visa subclasses online via the Skill Select database

 
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