Reforming skilled migration to improve Australia's competitiveness

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Joint media release with Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Minister for Industry Ian McFarlane and Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Scott Morrison.

The Government will reform the 457 visa programme for skilled migrants, while maintaining strong safeguards against abuse.

The 457 programme must be a means of filling genuine skills gaps in the local labour market while not placing unnecessary administrative burdens on business.

An effectively managed skilled migration programme ensures foreign workers supplement rather than substitute Australian workers. A business that is forced to close because it is unable to access the labour that it requires employs no-one.  That is a lose–lose situation for both employers and employees.

Following an independent review of the 457 programme, the Government will:

  • streamline the processing of sponsorship, nomination and visa applications to reward low risk applicants and refocus compliance and monitoring activities on high risk applicants;
  • increase the sponsorship approval period from 12 to 18 months for start-up businesses, to give start-ups more time to make their businesses sustainable;
  • provide greater flexibility in relation to English language testing and skill requirements for 457 applicants, to ensure that the standards required are appropriate for the industries and occupations being sought; and
  • retain the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold at $53 900, ahead of a review within the next two years.

Safeguards will remain in place to ensure that the 457 visa programme is not rorted. It will continue to be a requirement that a foreign worker receives at least the same market rates and conditions that are paid to an Australian doing the same job in the same workplace.