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Changes announced for the 457 visa – Lower English Requirements and Changes to Training Benchmarks

Changes announced for the 457 visa – Lower English Requirements and Changes to Training Benchmarks


The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) has released a response to the 457 Visa Programme integrity review report today. The majority of the changes announced are expected to be implemented over the next 6 months.

Here is a snapshot of the changes announced:

  • English requirements for the 457 visa applicant will be changed to overall 5.0 for the IELTS exam, with no components scoring lesser than 4.5.
  • Other English exams to be accepted for the visa application will be announced next month.
  • Visa charges are being reviewed and are likely to change.
  • Training Benchmarks will be replaced by annual training fund contributions to the Department of Industry (possible implementation in 2016)
  • Severe penalties for Business Sponsors who receive payment from visa applicants/holders in return for sponsorship and nomination.
  • Validity of Standard Business Sponsorships (SBS) to be lengthened from 3 to 5 years for existing businesses; from 12 to 18 months for new businesses.

More information will be available as the DIBP gets closer to implementing the planned changes.

Comments by Chris Johnston – Principal Lawyer and Registered Migration Agent at Work Visa Lawyers

The 457 visa programme has undergone many changes as the Department tries to strike a balance between helping Australian businesses meet short-term labour needs and protecting Australian workers and their jobs. It is important for both the Business Sponsor and Visa Applicant/Holder to take note of current developments to the 457 programme to ensure sponsorship and visa obligations are complied with to avoid violation and possible sanctions or penalties.

It is noted that the changes are being implemented in the near future and the date of effect for the changes will be crucial in relation to new sponsors, nominees (position) and visa applicants.


There has been plenty of responses from various parties since the annoucement was made. Here are a few of them:

"Ensuring that visa holders and sponsors are meeting their obligations will boost business and community confidence in the 457 programme."- Kate Carnell, Head of Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, on the announced changes

"The labour market testing regime was always flawed and we urge the government to accept the review's recommendation that it be scrapped. The testing amounts to ineffective, time-consuming red tape. Using the scheme is costly for employers and the vast majority don't recruit 457 workers unless they absolutely have to."- Innes Willox, Head of Australian Industry Group, on the Government's decision to keep the labour market testing component

"The government's proposed changes to the 457 visa scheme will improve its operation and reduce business costs, but it has missed the opportunity to do away with redundant regulation."

"It is disappointing that on Repeal Day the government has declined to support the independent review's recommendation to abolish labour market testing. This is a classic case of a regulation that adds to business costs, without improving the integrity of the scheme."- Jennifer Westacott, Chief Executive of Business Council of Australia (BCA)

Scott Barklamb, Executive Director of policy and public affairs for Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA) says that foreign workers played a small, but critical, specialist role in the mining industry. He too was disappointed that labour market testing was not abolished.

National Farmers Federation (NFF) president Brett Finlay welcomed the changes and mentioned that while Australian workers were the backbone of the country's agricultural sector, some farm businesses in regional and remote areas struggled to find workers with relevant skills and relied on overseas workers to fill essential roles.

Part of the announcement also mentions the re-establishment of the Ministerial Advisory Council on Skilled Migration (MACSM), which will aid to provide labour market analysis and advice on the composition of the Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL).

It appears that many stakeholders welcomed the changes but were concerned about the continuation of labour market testing and the proposed training fund that will replace current Training Benchmarks.


  1. http://www.immi.gov.au/pub-res/Pages/reviews-and-inquiries/government-response.aspx
  2. http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2015/03/18/457-visa-changes-announced
  3. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/immigration/liberals-tighten-checks-on-457-visas/story-fn9hm1gu-1227267088406
  4. http://www.bca.com.au/newsroom/statement-on-the-governments-response-to-457-visa-review


This information is accurate on the 22 March 2015

Do you need help with a 457 business sponsorship or visa application?

At Work Visa Lawyers we are experienced in assisting businesses and individuals in the 457 visa application process. The process is complex with many stages of work involved and we aim to simplify the application process for you and make sure the various criteria for sponsorship and visa are met.

If you require further information regarding your Australia visa options you can contact us through:

(08) 7225 5091 or +61 8 7225 5091

or   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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