Employer notification time extended

As recommended by the 457 Review, the reporting timeframe for business sponsors to notify of a cessation of employment or change of conditions has been extended from 10 days to 28 days to ensure there is sufficient time to comply with the requirement. Notifiable events include:

  • A change to the business trading name, ABN or other business details;
  • A change to contact or address details;
  • Corrections to information provided in the application;
  • The end or expected ending of a primary sponsored visa holder’s employment, program or activity;
  • A change to the duties carried out by the primary sponsored visa holder;
  • If the business had paid the return travel costs of a sponsored visa holder or any of their family members in accordance with the obligation to pay return travel costs;
  • The business has become insolvent;
  • The business ceases to exist as a legal entity.

English test validity for points tested visas

For General Skilled Migration (points tested visas) the validity of English tests will now be from the time of invitation, not the time of decision. This change allows an English language test score to be accepted for points tested skilled visas if the test was conducted 3 years before the applicant was invited to apply for the visa, rather than the 3 years before the application was lodged.

Changes to subclass 485 medical examination and English language requirements

Applicants for a Temporary Graduate visa are no longer required to provide evidence of having made arrangements for medical examinations at the time of application for the visa. This removes an unnecessary burden on applicants as many applicants may not be required to have a medical examination to meet the health requirement at the time of decision of the visa.

In addition to this, lower English language test scores will be accepted for Temporary Graduate visas to ensure that these visas can be more responsive to Australia’s labour market requirements. The test scores will be specified in an instrument made by the Minister. At present, the score required is 6.0 in each component of an IELTS examination, B in each component of an OET, 50 in each component of a PTE Academic or TOELF iBT (12 in Listening, 13 in Reading, 21 in Writing and 18 in Speaking).

Labour Market Testing (LMT) for 457 nominations

457 Processing Centres are now enforcing s140GBA of the Migration Act which specifies the evidence which must be provided as evidence of LMT.

To satisfy this requirement, relevant receipts for the payment of commercial advertising must accompany the evidence of advertising provided. This is an ‘at the time of application’ requirement. If the advertising does not attract a fee, this should be made clear in the application.

Please refer to the following link for a list of occupations requiring LMT:


Significant Investor Update

New rules flagged last month by Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Treasurer Joe Hockey could result in foreign buyers of Australian residential property and farmland being charged with a $5,000.00 application fee for properties worth less than $1 million. The proposed fee will be $10,000.00 for properties worth more than $1 million and will increase by $10,000.00 for each additional $1 million in value.

The new fees and apparent tightening of Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) scrutiny became evident when Treasurer Joe Hockey announced the forced sale of one of Sydney’s trophy homes, the $39 million Point Piper mansion Villa del Mare. Although this property was purchased by an Australian company, it was deemed illegal by FIRB as the purchaser Golden Fast Foods Pty Ltd is a shelf company owned by the Hong Kong-based Evergrande Real Estate Group.

According to foreign investment regulations, non-residents are not permitted to buy established dwellings as homes or investments (including SIV investments). With the Federal Government moving to introduce stiffer penalties to enforce existing foreign ownership laws, it is now more appropriate to apply for a SIV with the view of obtaining Australian PR status in 4 years’ time.

Temporary suspension of SIV programme

The SIV programme will be temporarily suspended from 24 April 2015 to 30 June 2015.

Prospective SIV applicants can still lodge Expression of Interest applications after 24 April 2015, but they will only be able to be nominated from 1 July 2015, and will be subject to the new complying investment framework. Please note this framework is still being finalised.

Importantly, applicants who have already been invited to apply for an SIV will not be impacted. Those who have already been invited to apply prior to the suspension will continue to be processed under the current regulations.

In addition to this, visa processing and visa grant will continue to occur between 24 April and 30 June 2015 for anyone who has already submitted an application, or who has been nominated prior to 24 April 2015.

Fair Work inquiry into 417 Working Holiday visa wages and conditions

The Fair Work Ombudsman is sending a specialist Overseas Worker Team to the Northern Rivers, Tweed Coast, Sunshine Coast and Wide Bay regions of NSW and Queensland. The team will engage with key stakeholders as part of its inquiry into allegations of working holiday visa holder exploitation by unscrupulous employers.

Deliberate exploitation of backpackers has been identified in the forms of underpayment, non-payment, employees paying employers and third parties, to receive documentary evidence for the required 88 days work to extend their visas.

The Work Holiday visa allows visa applicants to:

  1. Stay in Australia for up to 12 months;
  2. Work in Australia for up to 6 months with each employer;
  3. Study for up to 4 months.

Please note visa holders cannot stay with any end user (in the same or a different position) beyond 6 months by using different employment agencies, business affiliates or sub-contracting arrangements.

Chinese travellers visitor visa extended to 3 years with multiple entry

Approved Chinese travellers will now be able to apply for online visitor visas with a 3 year validity period and multiple entries. This extension follows the introduction of 3 year, multiple entry Chinese business visas in 2014.