The Federal Government implemented changes on 18 April 2015 to the temporary skilled (subclass 457) visas, which action the recommendations in the 457 Integrity Review. The Hon. Michaelia Cash, Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, announced the Government's response to the 457 Integrity Review on 18 March 2015.

Amendments to the subclass 457 visa English language requirements

 The list of English language providers has been expanded to include:

  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS test)
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language internet-based test (TOEFL IBT)
  • Occupation English Test (OET)
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE), and
  • Cambridge English Advanced (CAE) test (conducted on or after 1 January 2015).

The minimum International English Language Test System (IELTS) score has been reduced to an overall band score of 5.0, with a minimum of 4.5 in each section of the test component (reading, writing, speaking and listening).

An exemption will now be granted when an applicant can provide evidence of five cumulative years of study in English at the secondary or tertiary level, rather than proof of five years consecutive secondary or tertiary study in English.

Increased validity period for approved business sponsors and start-up businesses

The term of standard business sponsorship has been extended to five years commencing from the date of approval.  

The sponsorship period for start-up businesses has been extended from 12 to 18 months.

Extension of timeframes for notification of change of circumstances made by approved sponsors

Approved sponsors now have 28 calendar days to notify the Department of the cessation or expected cessation of a primary subclass 457 sponsored person's employment with the company. This was previously set at 10 working days.

Specification of income threshold and annual earnings

The temporary skilled migration income threshold (TSMIT) will remain unchanged at A$53,900.

The salary level exemption that requires approved sponsors in the 457 program to demonstrate that the nominated salary of a visa holder is the market rate for that occupation has been reduced from A$250,000 to A$180,000.

Any application for nomination of an overseas worker with a salary above A$180,000 will not have to provide market salary rate evidence.

The purpose of this amendment is to remove red-tape for businesses that are employing highly paid and highly skilled overseas employees, in positions that cannot be filled by the local labour force.