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Post 1 July 2016 Updates

Written By John Unger
Mon, Jul 4, 2016
John Unger

457 Training Benchmark
To demonstrate that they meet the training benchmarks, companies applying for 457 sponsorship or companies that are 457 visa sponsors need to provide evidence of ‘recent expenditure’ on training. Amendments have been made to the Sponsorship Procedures Advice Manual (PAM) for 1 July 2016 to clarify that:

* When providing evidence regarding the applicant’s recent expenditure on training and payroll, the evidence provided must cover the same 
12 month period. 

* Under policy, this should be the 
12 months prior to lodgement of their sponsorship or sponsorship variation application. 
If the applicant is unable to provide this evidence over the immediate preceding 12 month period, the applicant may, however, offer evidence from the most recent full financial year (1 July – 30 June) instead. This is irrespective of whether the applicant is seeking to meet benchmark A or B. 

Schedule 3 and compelling circumstances
Where the expiry of a 457 visa has been overlooked – which unfortunately can happen despite employer’s best efforts to keep track of their sponsored employees’ visa dates – situations can arise in which an application for a 457 needs to be lodged where the applicant does not hold a valid substantive visa.  In these circumstances, it is necessary to provide the immigration department with a submission under the requirements of Schedule 3 of the Migration Regulations demonstrating that there are compelling reasons for the grant of the visa.  Compelling reasons may stem from compassionate factors or may arise, for example, from the applicant’s circumstances or the circumstances of another person.

The recent changes allow the Department to consider compelling reasons after the date the application is lodged up to the time the application is decided.  This is more generous approach may offer a valuable advantage to business sponsors in some instances.

Chefs - occupation ceiling
An occupation ceiling is a limit on the number of invitations that can be issued through SkillSelect each year.  Companies in the hospitality industry may be aware that a ceiling for 2016-2017 has been set for the ANZSCO occupations for Chef (3513) of 2,475 places.

In this regard it is important to note that an occupation ceiling is applied to:

* Skilled independent visas
* Skilled regional sponsored visas
* Skilled or business state or territory sponsored visas
* Occupational ceilings do not apply to, State or Territory Nominated, Employer Sponsored or Business Innovation and Investment visa subclasses.  In other words, the ceiling will not affect the transition of sponsored chefs from 457 visas to 186 or 187 permanent visas under the * * Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) or Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS).

457 Processing times
A chief concern for companies using the 457 visa program continues to be the long processing times relative to past years.  The Departments current service standards are shown below.
40 working days   Initial assessments of 457 applications
5 working days     Case related e-mails
28 working days   Review responses - Requests for Further Information (RFI)

Cases may fall outside service standards if they require appropriate/necessary ongoing investigation and processing. 

Where there are urgent circumstances that require a quicker response/outcome, escalation protocols also outlined in the automated mailbox response should be followed. 

Perhaps key here is the 28 days that can be added to the processing time where a case officer sends a Request for Further Information.  This occurs, for example, when a case officer raises questions around the genuineness criteria. 

The immigration department is now offering PayPal and BPay as new payment options for applications lodged through ImmiAccount, the Department’s electronic lodgement system.  This has the advantage of accepting credit card types not currently accepted by the Department (such as UnionPay and Discovery Card).  BPay has the advantage of avoiding credit card surcharges.  By way of an example, credit card surcharges using a Visa card, for a family of four applying for permanent residency, is about $78.

If you would like to discuss any of the changes listed above please contact TSS Immigration on (03) 9421 1020.

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