Australia: Legislation introduces more changes to 457 programme
Newly adopted legislation makes several changes to the Subclass 457 visa programme, including expressly barring discriminatory recruitment practices, requiring applicants to provide nomination details when applying for visas online and waiving English language proficiency requirements in certain instances.
What does the change mean? Standard business sponsors will be required to state in writing that they will not engage in discriminatory recruiting practices based on immigration status or citizenship. Visa applicants applying online will be required to provide nomination details of a sponsor or proposed sponsor. Applicants already required to demonstrate English proficiency for professional registration or licensing will not be required to provide evidence of English proficiency in the visa process.
- Implementation time frame: 19 April 2016.
- Who is affected: Sponsoring employers and foreign workers in the 457 visa category.
- Impact on processing times: The anti-discrimination provision adds a new requirement for sponsors in the application process, but will not affect processing times. The online application rules should make it easier for the Government to process applications in a timely manner. The English proficiency waivers will speed up the process for some applicants.
- Business impact: Employers should take note of the changes, which take effect on19 April 2016.
Background:The anti-discrimination rule was recommended in the Independent Review into Integrity in the 457 Programme as a way to “address a community concern that some employers may be relying on the Subclass 457 programme to employ foreign workers without having regard to the availability of local labour,” according to an explanatory statement accompanying the legislation. Sponsors already must attest that they have a “strong record of, or a demonstrated commitment to employing local labour and non-discriminatory employment practices.” The legislative change aims to add teeth to nondiscrimination policies, however, and provides officials with an avenue to take action against sponsors who do not meet their obligations.
The other changes are designed to streamline the application process. The online application changes should make processing easier by automatically linking relevant nomination details with applications from the time an application is lodged. The English proficiency provisions, meanwhile, will eliminate one step in the process for applicants who previously had to establish English proficiency both for purposes of obtaining a visa and professional registration or licensing. The Government says the change will in no way “adversely impact English proficiency levels” required by the Subclass 457 visa programme.
BAL Analysis: The changes highlight Australia’s ongoing efforts to overhaul the Subclass 457 visa programme, and reflect two of the Government’s broader goals: protecting the Australian labour market and streamlining the application process. The anti-discrimination policy will force sponsors to acknowledge in writing that they will not discriminate against local workers in their recruitment practices. The online application and English proficiency changes may make the application process smoother in certain instances.
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Source:Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP