New English requirements for Subclass 457 visas and other important changes from 18 April 2015

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New English requirements for Subclass 457 visas and other important changes from 18 April 2015

On 18 March 2015, the Australian Government announced its response to the Independent Review into Integrity in the subclass 457 Programme. Amongst many responses, the Government supported the recommendation that the English language requirement be amended to an average score.

For example, in relation to International English Language Testing System the Government supported the recommendation that a 457 applicant should have an average of 5 across the four competencies (or the equivalent for an alternative English language testing provider).  Previously, all 4 bands had to be individually at least 5 (it is now 4.5 minimum with an overall/average band score of 5).

On 18 April 2015, some of those responses were put in place. See the table below for what is now required in relation to the various English language test systems:

ELR 18 Apr 15

The base rate of pay, above which the English language requirement is not necessary (if the applicant is not exempt) is $96,400

The Government had also responded in March, that the current Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) be retained at $53,900 p.a. but that it not undergo any further increases until it is reviewed within two years. The TSMIT at $53,900 was reaffirmed on 18 April 2015.

In summary of the changes, the Government:

• has expanded the list of English language providers, to include test of English as a Foreign Language internet – based test (TOEFL IBT), Pearson Test of English (PTE); and Cambridge English Advanced (CAE) test (conducted on or after 1 January 2015);
• will accept an overall test score with minimum scores of each test component (reading, writing, speaking and listening); and
• will grant an exemption when an applicant can provide evidence of five cumulative years of study in English at the secondary or tertiary level, rather than proof of five years consecutive secondary or tertiary study in English.
• has extended the term of standard business sponsorship to 5 years commencing from the date of approval.
• has extended the sponsorship period for start-up businesses from twelve (12) months to eighteen (18) months.
• has reduced the market salary exemption threshold from $250,000 to $180,000, this is now in line with the marginal tax rate.
• has extended the notifiable period for sponsors from 10 working days to 28 calendar days.

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