Beginning November 1, 2011, Australian companies that are Standard Business Sponsors (SBS) will be eligible to apply for Accredited Sponsor (AS) status for priority processing and fast-tracking of all Subclass 457 Work visa applications and company nominations.
SBS companies are Australian or overseas businesses with three-year accreditation to sponsor foreign national employees. Companies eligible for SBS status are those registered in Australia or registered overseas as business entities or government agencies, and agree to pay the Australian minimum salary levels.
According to the Australian Department of Immigration & Citizenship (DIAC), AS status will be granted to qualified SBSs for up to six years provided that the sponsor meets the following requirements:
- It is a government agency, a publicly-listed company, or a private company, with a minimum of $4 million AUD turnover per year for the last three years;
- It has been an active 457 visa sponsor for the past three years (with a break of no more than six months, not due to any sanction);
- No adverse information is known about it based on DIAC and Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) monitoring, including formal warnings and sanctions;
- It has had at least 30 Subclass 457 visa holders granted in the previous 12 months;
- It has lodged a high level of "decision-ready" applications (i.e., all application documents filed at once) over the previous two years;
- It has a non-approval rate of less than 3% for the previous 3 years;
- It has Australian workers comprising at least 75% of its workforce in Australia and a commitment to maintain this level; and
- It has a valid collective or enterprise agreement which will cover all sponsored 457 visa holders earning less than $180,000 AUD.
Presently, 457 visa applications filed by an SBS with the DIAC on behalf of a foreign employee applicant are processed within roughly two to six weeks. Under the new AS program, immigration officials expect SBSs to experience processing of 457 visa applications within a matter of days.