The Australian business community has welcomed the newly announced changes to the 457 Temporary (Skilled) Work Visa.
These changes include streamlined processing of low risk 457 visas and refocused compliance and monitoring activities for high risk sectors as well as reformed sponsorship requirements to reduce the time and cost to business.
This means that the 457 visa processes should now cause fewer headache and irritations for both the employer and employee.
The new arrangements around this visa stream will also see increased sponsorship approval periods for start-ups, from 12 months to 18 months, and greater flexibility in English language testing/skill requirements.
It is believed that the new laws 'suggested requirement that migrants fall into the same salary bracket will continue as planned. This means that a foreign employee will receive at least the same market rates and conditions applicable to an Australian performing an equivalent role in the same workplace will continue.
Michael Wall, national leader for immigration services at KPMG, pointed out that the latest changes come on the heels of significant tightening of the programme last year, which contributed to subclass 457 grants being down 40% in the fiscal year 2013/2014.
"Further detail of the changes will need to be released though, to assess whether the changes will have any material positive effects,’ he said about the latest announcements, “said Wall adding that companies should continue to ensure that they comply with immigration and visa requirements.
The Australian Federal government has also expanded their current investor visa programme. These changes include the creation of a Premium Investor Visa (PIV) for ultra-high net worth individuals.
Under the PIV, investors will be required to make a $15 million investment into a complying investment. Austrade, the government’s trade and investment promotion agency, will be given a role in determining complying investment policy and will undertake this responsibility in consultation with stakeholders.
However, there are concerns about the investor visas. Australia introduced the Significant Investor Visa two years ago and immigration department figures show that more than 80% have come from China, raising concerns among critics that the visa programme could be used by corrupt Chinese businesspeople to move themselves and their ‘illegal’ millions to Australia.
But putting these rumours to be a Department of Immigration an Border protection official said, "Applicants for the visas would go through rigorous integrity assessment using information from various external sources, which could include tax sharing information as a result of China’s new international taxation alliance with Australia and several other Western nations.
"Austrade would have oversight of potential investments and, in the case of the new premium visa class, would have to nominate applicants, adding another assurance of legality.
"SIV applicants must provide evidence that their funds have been lawfully acquired and owned, and are not proceeds of crime," the spokesman added.