“New policy changes to sponsoring 457 workers”

Last Updated on Friday, 15 July 2016 01:37 Written by Australian Immigration Visas Friday, 15 July 2016 01:37

(c) Lisa Qiu Coleman Greig Lawyers

New policy changes under the current Coalition government in relation to sponsoring skilled workers, took effect on 1 July 2016. The uncertainty over the outcome of the recent election leaves us with little comfort of what’s to come in the area of employment and migration, and whether there will be further changes.

In recent times, the focus on immigrants has shifted (slightly) away from Australia’s treatment of its asylum seekers, to exposing the vast numbers of immigrants employed in Australia on subclass 457 visas and other skilled working visas. A recent ABC headline phrased the issue as “corruption and widespread rorting ‘undermining Australia’s immigration programs’.”

The article states that while the government has been focused on asylum seekers and “stopping the boats,” many immigrants have taken advantage of this and have been able to obtain skilled 457 visas on the basis of fraudulent and misleading information supplied to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, and that this has been made possible as a result of unethical and dishonest practices by the migrating employee, sponsoring employer and migration agents.

The Labor Party has promised if elected, to crack down on the exploitation of the skilled workers migration program and on the exploitation of migrant workers themselves, by, amongst other things, establishing an enhanced Advisory Council on Skilled Migration as an independent statutory body tasked to monitor skilled visa programmes and compliance with the program by migrants and sponsoring employers. A Shorten Labor Government will also introduce more rigorous evidentiary requirements for labour market testing, a requirement aimed at ensuring that employers have tested the Australian market for suitable employees, before making the decision to employ a skilled worker from overseas.

Under the current government, the Coalition has also taken steps to strengthen the skilled migrant program by the Department releasing new policies that apply to the 457 program on 1 July, 2016.

The 1 July changes

The changes come in the form of more stringent requirements that apply to employers wishing to sponsor and nominate skilled migrants. The new policies have an increased focus on the “genuineness” requirement. The genuineness requirement requires employers to be able to demonstrate to the Department that there is a position that exists within the business, that requires the skills of the migrating employee, and that the Australian labour market has been adequately tested to ensure that there are no suitably qualified Australian employees. The increased focus on the genuineness requirement aims to tackle situations whereby a nominated position may have been created to secure a migration outcome, in circumstances where the need for a skilled migrant is not genuine.

The new guidelines also assist Department officials in being able to pick out which nomination applications might not be genuine by providing certain “flags” that may suggest a fraudulent nomination. These flags include:

There is information to suggest the nominated position was created in order to assist a family member to come to Australia
There is information to suggest the tasks of the position don’t align with the tasks of the nominated position described in the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (which describes all occupations in the Australian and NZ work forces)
The nominated position is inconsistent with the nature or size of the business.
Alongside new measures to prevent exploitation of the 457 program, there were also new measures introduced on 1 July to speed up the process for employers who have a history of good dealings with the Department. Such employers are classified as “Accredited Sponsors.”

Accredited Sponsors have satisfied certain requirements, such as having at least $4 million annual turnover for the last three years, having been an active 457 sponsor for at least three years and having at least 75% of their workforce in Australia comprising of Australian workers. Once a sponsor becomes an Accredited Sponsor, the sponsorship is valid for six years (as opposed to five years for a standard business sponsor) and they receive priority processing for visa and nomination applications.

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“Changes to Accredited Status for Subclass 457 Standard Business Sponsors”

Last Updated on Friday, 15 July 2016 01:34 Written by Australian Immigration Visas Friday, 15 July 2016 01:34

(c) Baker & McKenzie
Changes to Accredited Status for Subclass 457 Standard Business Sponsors

Employers who have a positive history of dealings with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (‘DIBP’) may be eligible to become ‘Accredited Sponsors’.

Accredited Sponsors benefit from an extended sponsorship period of six years as well as priority processing for visa and nomination applications. As of 1 July 2016, Accredited Sponsors will also benefit from streamlined processing of applications, if:

The nominated base salary is either equal to or greater than the Fair Work High Income Threshold (currently AUD138,900) and the nominated occupation is classified as skill level 1 or 2 in the ANZSCO; or
The base salary is at least AUD75,000 and the occupation is classified as skill level 1 or 2 in the ANZSCO. Exceptions apply to certain occupations in these skill levels.
An employer must meet the following criteria in addition to the requirements for standard business sponsorship to be eligible for accreditation:

Be a government agency, a public-listed company or private company with an annual turnover of at least AUD four million for the last three years;
Have been an active subclass 457 sponsor for at least three years with no adverse information;
Have sponsored at least ten subclass 457 visa holders in the two years prior to applying for accreditation;
Have lodged an agreed level of decision-ready applications over the previous two years;
Have a non-approval rate of less than 3% for the previous three years;
Have Australian workers comprising at least 75% of their work force in Australia;
Engage all subclass 457 holders as employees under a contract of employment that includes at least the minimum employment entitlements required under the National Employment Standards (unless their occupation is exempt) and provide a copy of a template contract used for this purpose (if applicable);
Pay all Australian employees in accordance with an Enterprise Agreement or an internal salary table that reflects current market salary rates for all occupations in their business (if applicable);
Provide to the DIBP details and evidence of all business activities undertaken by their business; and;
Provide to the DIBP details of all Principals and Directors of their business.
The DIBP will be reviewing existing Accredited Sponsors to ensure they meet the above criteria for accreditation under the new scheme. The DIBP may revoke a sponsor’s accreditation if they no longer meet the new accreditation criteria.

Existing standard business sponsors who meet the new criteria for accreditation (but previously did not) may now lodge a sponsorship variation application and request to be considered for sponsorship accreditation under the new scheme resulting in quicker processing.

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“Australian 457 visa applications up 15%”

Last Updated on Thursday, 13 August 2015 11:02 Written by Australian Immigration Visas Thursday, 13 August 2015 11:02

Australian 457 visa applications up 15%

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“Coast fine dining customer service set for foreign flavour”

Last Updated on Thursday, 13 August 2015 10:58 Written by Australian Immigration Visas Thursday, 13 August 2015 10:58

SUNSHINE Coast fine-dining restaurants may be about to undergo a cultural revolution.

Changes to the way foreign workers step into Australian fine-dining jobs could transform our hospitality industry by bringing a new cultural mix and attitude to the dining floor and kitchens.

The hospitality industry is looking to lure more foreign cooks, chefs and waitresses after striking a government deal to make it easier to bring in workers in the 457 skilled migration visa program.

However, under the Restaurant (Fine Dining) Industry Labour Agreement, businesses will need to meet criteria to access skilled migrants, including having an a la carte menu, having uniformed staff and a maitre d’ and industry recognition through award programs.

The agreement also outlines the skills, qualifications and English language requirements needed. While there may be a jobs shortage on the Sunshine Coast, those in the hospitality industry said it was often difficult to find committed and skilled staff.

Restaurant & Catering Australia said the agreement was “historic” because of chronic labour shortages “gripping the hospitality sector”, due to lowering the temporary skilled migration income threshold by 10%.

The peak body said the hospitality industry had a shortfall of 56,000 workers in Australia.

Sunshine Coast Real Food Festival director Julie Shelton believes international hospitality workers have special skills they could pass on to local workers.

“Good service at a high-end restaurant is about more than just skills: it’s about having the right cultural background and understanding of what service is all about,” Ms Shelton said.

“There’s no doubt we have plenty of work to do around our customer service on the Coast.

“We have a region where there is a strong growth in the hospitality sector and food tourism, with fantastic experiences and quality food, but despite all this wonderful growth, I’m hearing restaurants are just not finding staff to match the new paradigm. Our food industry is evolving but our labour force isn’t.”

The Long Apron at Spicers Clovelly Estate executive chef Cameron Matthews said it was disappointing many hospitality workers treated their roles as “filler” jobs before they start their “real career” in something else.

“In this industry people are looking for a part-time job. Not many people see hospitality as a career: just a uni job before they find something else and customer service suffers because of it,” Mr Matthews said.

“In Europe, a wait person or maitre d’ is considered as a profession.”

In 2014-15, the Accommodation and Food Services industry was the largest user of the 457 Temporary Work (Skilled) visa program, with 4350 applications granted.

Jude Lawerence is one of those international worker success stories.

Lured by glorious weather, she moved to the Coast from Scotland two years ago to be the Tides Waterfront Restaurant manager.

Owner of the hatted restaurant, Michael Mulhearnsaid he would do it again in a heartbeat.

“I feel people who are coming here on a working visa are generally more committed, they really want to be here and are treating their job with enthusiasm,” Mr Mulhearn said.

“I’ve had Australian workers turn up to interviews with thongs and shorts on in a restaurant with tablecloths. We always stress to our staff that customer service is a big part of the job.

(c) Megan Mackander – sunshinecoastdaily.com.au

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“Labour shortfall could halt NSW economy: industry”

Last Updated on Thursday, 13 August 2015 10:53 Written by Australian Immigration Visas Thursday, 13 August 2015 10:53

A shortage of labour in NSW could halt growth in the state’s economy or force its borders open to overseas workers, the building industry has warned.

Home approvals in NSW last financial year were the highest on record. New figures show that home renovations, while flat in recent years, are set to increase by $600 million this year.

A swathe of major state government infrastructure and road-building projects are also looming in the background.

This surge in projects has been good news for NSW construction workers, who can now command up to $1.80 per brick laid compared with $1 in other states, according to industry estimates.

But as the industry warns there is not enough labour to meet demand which will slow the state’s economy.

“The average age of a [NSW] bricklayer is now in their mid-40s – these are heavy [demanding] jobs,” said David Bare, of the Housing Industry Association’s NSW branch. “That’s really going to bite soon.

“[457 visas for foreign workers are] a sensible response in areas where there is a clear shortage like bricklaying”.

Anecdotally some in the industry say foreign labour imports are already increasing.

Paul Lawrence, who runs an organisation that trains and accredits construction workers, says he has noticed in recent months an increase in workers from countries such as Ireland seeking accreditation.

High wages are thought to be part of the reason why the state’s population is growing so rapidly, which in turn compounds demand for housing and pressure on infrastructure.

The number of people leaving NSW each year for other states is at its lowest point in nearly four decades and the lure of construction work is thought to be a major contributing factor.

Economist Jason Anderson, of consultancy MacroPlan Dimasi, says foreign labourers in other states could come to NSW seeking work.

“There may well be another phase of 457 visa holders leaving Queensland for NSW as [mining boom] jobs wind up,” he said.

States like Western Australia are also recording a surplus of construction labour, according to the Master Builders’ Association.

Greens MLC John Kaye said plans to “dump” local workers showed the government’s changes to vocational education were “on the wrong track”.

The government’s changes to the TAFE system will allow private sector colleges to compete for a growing share of government education funding. They have coincided with falling enrolments in many courses.

Last year 10,000 fewer apprentices and trainees completed their training in NSW than a year earlier. Mr Bare says making jobs in the trades more attractive to young people is the only long-term solution to the shortage.

But the state government – whose budget has benefited enormously from stamp duties from the building boom – says it has introduced measures to increase the supply of local labourers.

“There is no point having a booming construction industry if we don’t have the skilled jobs to build the workforce of the future,” said Skills Minister John Barilaro.

Mr Barilaro has called for greater auditing of 457 programs to ensure they are being used to fill genuine shortages and not entrench foreign labour.

He says the government is increasing the supply of local labour with scholarships for manual labourers. It says it will provide $50 million in trade scholarships for TAFE students in this term of government.

(c) James Robertson – Sydney Morning Herald
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