Employing staff on 457 visas can be costly and time consuming. Employers approved as 457 visa ‘sponsors’ are subject to strict, ongoing obligations.
One of the most important is ensuring the business meets the training benchmark for each year of the sponsorship approval period. The business has to keep detailed records of this, and other aspects of the sponsorship, in case it is ever monitored by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.
Labour market testing
Certain occupations being nominated for 457 visas – mainly trade, engineering and nursing occupations – require evidence of labour market testing (LMT).
If LMT is required, it must have been undertaken in the 12 months prior to lodging the nomination. There is currently no legal guide to the length of time the testing covers. As a general rule, we suggest four weeks. The invoices for the advertising must be provided when lodging the nomination.
If a 457 visa holder’s employment ceases, the Department of Immigration must be notified in writing within 28 days.
Employers must demonstrate that the salary and conditions of employment offered to a 457 visa applicant are “no less favourable” than those offered to an Australian employee performing equivalent work in the same location. There is an exemption where the base salary is above $250,000.
In most cases, sponsored employees can be employed by associated entities of the sponsor. This flexibility in the migration program can mean businesses save costs and paperwork by not having multiple sponsorships in place.
Employers need to ensure 457 holders are paid above the minimum salary threshold, known as the temporary skilled migration income threshold (TSMIT). The current income threshold is $53,900.
There are instances where the base salary may be below the TSMIT, but the guaranteed annual earnings (GAE) are above this amount. GAE only includes the following types of payments and allowances:
- Base salary
- Any allowances the employer applies or deals with on the 457 visa holder’s behalf (eg accommodation or housing allowance)
- Any agreed monetary value of non-monetary benefits (eg health insurance, car, mobile phone and laptop)
If your 457 employee is changing roles, the new job description for the position needs to be evaluated to assess whether a new nomination is required. The impact on future visa applications also needs to be considered.
Full processing of 457 visa applications currently takes about two to three weeks after lodgement. Priority processing can be requested if there is an urgent business need for the applicant to commence employment.
This article is an edited version. The full article was first published in the October 2015 issue of HRMonthly magazine as ‘The ABC of 457’. AHRI members receive HRMonthly 11 times per year as part of their membership. Find out more about AHRI membership here.