The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, today announced businesses using the subclass 457 visa program can now gain access to priority processing and approval for six years under a new accreditation scheme.
‘This new scheme recognises that many Australian businesses have a long history of dealing with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) and an excellent record of compliance with workplace and migration laws,’ Mr Bowen said.
‘From 7 November, these businesses will be able to seek accreditation that qualifies them for sponsorship approval of six years rather than the current three, as well as ensuring faster processing times for all future subclass 457 nominations and visa applications.’
Businesses will need to meet certain additional benchmarks to qualify for accredited status, including being an active 457 visa sponsor for the past three years and a commitment to ensuring at least 75 per cent of their domestic workforce is Australian.
‘While employers should first look to Australians to fill skill vacancies, the subclass 457 visa provides a fast and flexible process for the entry of overseas workers where they are needed to fill skill vacancies,’ Mr Bowen said.
‘The new accreditation scheme was developed in consultation with the Skilled Migration Consultative Panel, which includes representatives from major employer groups, unions and state governments.’
The 2011 KPMG Skilled Migration Survey of employers found that the subclass 457 visa program provided a flexible avenue to alleviate skill shortages in growth sectors such as the mining industry.
Use of the subclass 457 visa program is increasing, with 54 360 subclass 457 primary visas granted in 2010–11, an increase of 38.2 per cent compared to the same period the year before. The UK was the most popular source country, with 11 820 primary applicants granted visas.
The median processing time for a subclass 457 visa remains at a historically low level of 22 days.
Minister Bowen has announced that DIAC will introduce a Sponsorship Accreditation system from Monday 7 November 2011.
Employers can apply for Accredited Sponsor status to qualify for priority processing for Subclass 457 visa nominations and visa applications.
Accredited Sponsor status is valid for six years, unless it is revoked because the employer no longer meets the required criteria.
Accreditation status is for employers with have a long and positive history of dealing with the Department and an excellent record of compliance with workplace and migration laws.
Applications for Accredited Sponsor status are made in the same way as applications for approval as a Standard Business Sponsorship applications, online or using Form 1196S.
A company must meet all the following criteria to gain Accredited Sponsor status:
- be a government agency, a publicly listed company, or a private company, with a minimum of $4 million turnover per year over the last three years;
- have been an active Subclass 457 visa sponsor for the past three years (with a break of no more than six months, which was not due to any sanction);
- have no adverse information known of it based on DIAC and DEEWR monitoring, including formal warnings and sanctions;
- have had at least 30 primary Subclass 457 visa applications granted in the previous 12 months;
- have lodged a high level of Decision Ready applications over the previous two years;
- have a non-approval rate of less than three percent during the previous three years; and
- have Australian workers comprising at least 75 percent of its workforce in Australia, and have made a commitment to maintain this level.
Information on sponsorship accreditation is on the DIAC website, with further information to be available on Monday 7 November.