Summary of Migration Regulation Changes Effective from 1st July 2011

On Friday, 1 July 2011 DIAC introduced visa application fee increases, new forms and other updates and changes. As our client, Perdaman Global Servicesknow that you are particularly interested in the changes relating to employer sponsored visas such as the 457 and ENS. We have summarised the most relevant changes as they pertain to you!

We are aware of all the changes implemented by DIAC, and welcome you to call us if you would like additional information. The most pertinent information is as follows:

  • VAC Increases
  • Subclass 457: Increase to Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT)
  • Subclass 457 – Salary level increase for English exemption
  • Changes to the Employer Nomination Scheme – 1 July
  • Points Test Update – 7 June 2011
  • New Skilled Occupations List from 1 July 2011

VAC Increases

Effective 1 July 2011, the annual adjustment of most fees and Visa Application Charges (VACs) will come into effect. Fee increases for Subclass 457 are:

  • $405 – standard business sponsorship
  • $ 80 – nomination application fee
  • $305 – visa application fee

For further information about this annual adjustment of fees click here. These adjustments are reflected in the July 2011 version of the Charges Form – Form 990i.

Subclass 457 visa : Increase to Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT)

On 1 July 2011 Australia implemented an increased in the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT). As at 1 July an occupation must have a market salary rate that meets or exceeds the new TSMIT of A$49,330 per year in order to qualify for a Subclass 457 visa nomination.

It is important to note that the TSMIT is not a minimum salary level but the minimum market salary level. Due to this it is not mandatory for employers to automatically increase the salaries of their current 457 visa holders, however, those employers who seek to engage new 457 visa holders will effectively need to increase the salaries of their existing 457 workers and Australian citizens / permanent residents employed in the same role or they will run into problems with any new applications.

Where the employer engages Australian citizens or permanent residents in the same occupation (as nominated in any 457 visa applications lodged on or after 1st July 2011), the market salary rate will be determined to be the rate at which these employees are paid. Any Australian citizens and permanent residents on the old TSMIT rate of $47,480 (base annual salary) will need to have their salaries increased to the new TSMIT rate of $49,330 (base annual salary) as otherwise DIAC may assess the applicable market salary rate to be $47,480. Any new nomination applications for 457 visas would fail as this rate does not meet the new TSMIT market salary rate.

Employers who have found it necessary to increase the salaries of any Australian citizens / permanent residents for the purposes of meeting the new TSMIT, would also need to increase the salary of any existing 457 visa holders employed in the same occupation to ensure they continue to meet their standard business sponsorship obligations. This relates specifically to the obligation for sponsors to ensure parity of employment terms and conditions between employees sponsored under 457 visa arrangements and Australian citizens and permanent residents performing work in an equivalent position in the employer’s workplace at the same location.

Please refer to the example below as copied from the DIAC website:

The TSMIT has no bearing on what the Subclass 457 visa holder should be paid in the workplace and should not be considered as the applicable market salary rate where the sponsor does not currently employ an equivalent Australian citizen or permanent resident. It is the market salary rate for the nominated occupation, not the nominated worker’s proposed salary, which is compared to the TSMIT. Therefore, it is not possible for a 457 sponsor to inflate a nominated worker’s proposed salary in order to meet the TSMIT requirement.

Example: If the market salary rate for an occupation is $39 500 – that is, the market salary rate amount that is paid to an equivalent Australian in the sponsor’s workplace – then the nomination is likely to be refused, as the market salary rate is below the TSMIT. Even if the sponsor decided to offer the nominated worker a salary of $49 330, then the nomination would still be refused, as it is the market salary rate that the department compares to TSMIT, not the actual salary proposed.

Subclass 457: Increase to English Language Exemption Salary

Also beginning 1 July, 457 visa applicants who seek an exemption from the required English language proficiency test on the basis of their offered income in Australia must demonstrate a minimum annual salary of at least A$88,410. The new salary requirement will also apply to foreign nationals claiming an exemption on this ground whose Subclass 457 visa applications are pending on 1 July. For additional information click here.

Changes to the Employer Nomination Scheme

  • removal of Slaughterer (ANZSCO 831212) from the Employer Nomination Skilled Occupation List (ENSOL)
  • addition of Dog Handler or Trainer (ANZSCO 361111) to the ENSOL
  • inclusion of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) in the ENSOL as an assessing authority solely for applicants that the organisation wishes to recruit for teaching or research positions
  • minimum salary for ENS has been indexed. The new ENS minimum salary level has increased from:
    • $65,020 to $67,556 for certain computing professional occupations
    • $47,480 to $49,330 for all other occupations

DIAC has completely overhauled the points test for General Skilled Migration visa subclasses. The new points test is targeted to applicants with strong English language competency, formal qualifications and substantial post qualification work experience. Points are no longer given in relation to the nominated occupation selected and no occupation is prioritised above another. For details on the new points test click here.