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457 visa

Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and Immigration

The Government is implementing measure in attempt to clamp down on fraud, tax avoidance, superannuation requirements and working without proper permission.  This may impact you directly if you are a visa holder.

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) has announced that around 20 million visa holders are to be scrutinised under a data matching scheme with the aim of catching those who are avoiding tax, falling foul of superannuation compliance and working illegally.

What it means

Under the data matching scheme, the ATO will become privy to your tax, bank, social security and wages and will be able to share this information with the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) (Immigration).

This means it will be easier for officials to detect anyone who is flouting their obligations be that a visa holder or an employer.

The Federal Government will look at records and review information on not just sponsors and visa holders but also migration agents and education providers.  Officials will be able to find out where visa holders have travelled, where they have worked or studied and the payments they have received.

It could also mean that those who left Australia may be entitled to superannuation which they didn’t know about.

How will it affect employers and visa holders?

If you claimed that you undertook some regional work as part of your Working Holiday Visa but didn’t actually carry it out, if that information comes to light, it could prevent you from extending your visa.

If you're employer and an approved sponsor, then you have a duty to keep records of wages and produce pay slips. Even if you pay cash, this needs to be documented.

Subclass 457 and 482 visa holder employees who do not declare their wages to the ATO will be found to be in breach of their visa conditions and this may lead to visa cancellation.

Data matching will pick up any discrepancies between Business Activity Statements (BAS), tax assessments, bank records between employers and employees.  

If evidence emerges that you’re an employer who offers sponsorship and are paying visa holders below average wages, then it could result in your sponsorship approval being cancelled.

When will the audit take place?

This audit will take place over the next three years and is part of a recent Australian Government drive to pay closer attention to the information it holds and be able to share records to investigate fraud and non-compliance.

Should you have any questions about the above information or if you want to discuss your particular circumstances in more detail please do not hesitate to contact us for a confidential discussion on (03) 9614 7111.

 

New Subclass 482 Temporary Skill Shortage Visa

As a result of a broad package of reforms relating to employer sponsored skilled visa programs, announced by the Government on 18 April 2017 the 457 visa will cease to exist on 18 March and will be replaced by the new Temporary Skill Shortage (Subclass 482) visa which enables employers to access a temporary skilled overseas worker if an appropriately skilled Australian worker is unavailable.

An overseas worker must be nominated by a sponsoring business and obtain a Subclass 482 visa before they can commence work in Australia. The Subclass 482 visa has three streams:

  • Short-term stream – allows employers to source skilled overseas workers in occupations on the Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) for a maximum of two years (or up to four years if the two year limitation would be inconsistent with an international trade obligation);
  • Medium-term stream – allows employers to source skilled overseas workers for occupations on the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) for up to four years; and
  • Labour Agreement stream – allows employers to source skilled overseas workers in accordance with a labour agreement with the Commonwealth, where there is a demonstrated need that cannot be met in the Australian labour market and standard visa programs are not available.

Changes to the Employer Nomination Scheme (Subclass 186) visa and the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (Subclass 187) visa will be implemented to complement the introduction of the Subclass 482 visa. The main changes will result in a tightening of eligibility for these visas by reference to criteria dealing with age, employment history, salary, English language, and eligible occupations.

Changes to eligibility requirements for the Temporary Residence Transition stream in the Subclass 186 and Subclass 187 visas will not apply to persons who held or had applied for a Subclass 457 visa when the changes were announced by the Government on 18 April 2017.

If you require further information or advice please contact the experienced team at Nevett Ford Lawyers.

Skilling Australians Fund

There have been significant legislative changes affecting visa holders and applicants of both the permanent Skilled Migration Program and the Temporary Skilled Migration Program (often known as the 457 visa program) and these continue throughout 2018.  However there are also changes forecasted for employers who participate in these programs, specifically in terms of an increased economic contribution into a newly formed fund designed to increase the skills, training and vocational education of Australians.

A Commitment to Training – The Existing Requirements

At present, in order to be an approved sponsor for the purposes of the 457 visa program (or support an application for permanent residency through the employer sponsored program), an organisation has two ways in which they can demonstrate their commitment to training. 

The first option is to demonstrate that they are spending at least 1% of their annual payroll on activities for the benefit of their employees that can be appropriately characterised as having a learning outcome.  These requirements come with a few caveats including:

  • The training outcomes must fit the size, scope and nature of the business;
  • The training must be for the benefit of Australian employees; and
  • The expenditure must not be for family members of the principals of the business. 

This leaves some discretion in the hands of employers as to how they want to engage and develop the skills of their existing employees.  For example, one of the most direct and obvious ways in which it is possible to meet the training obligations is for an employer to take on an apprentice or trainee.  The wages paged to that individual are then directly attributable to the employer’s commitment to training.

In the event a particular employer cannot meet this requirement there is an alternative option whereby a contribution to the value of 2% of the organisation’s annual payroll can be made into an Industry Training Fund (such as TAFE organisations). 

Skilling Australians Fund – The New Requirements

Commencing in March 2018, a new fund will be set up to assist with vocational education and training for Australians – the Skilling Australians Fund.  While the details of the funding model are currently being finalised, it will in part be funded by organisations who are participating in the temporary and permanent employer sponsored programs.

Organisations who have a need to source labour from abroad will be categorised as either small or large organisations depending on whether their turnover is below or above $10 Million.  From there they will be required to pay a levy per applicant into the Skilling Australians Fund.  From the information that has been announced, the levy will be payable in full at the time of the nomination, that is before a decision has been made on the nomination or the visa applications. 

The details of the levy payable are as follows: 

Table One:  Overview of Skilling Australian Levy of Organisations participating in Economic Migration Programs

Migration Program     

Temporary (457 / TSS) Visa Program
- Small Organisation: $1,200 per year per visa applicant
- Large Organisation: $1,800 per year per visa applicant

Permanent Visa Program
- Small Organisation: $3,000 per year per visa applicant
- Large Organisation: $5,000 per year per visa applicant

Should you have any questions about the above information or if you want to discuss how your business can access these arrangements in more detail please do not hesitate to contact us for a confidential discussion on (03) 9614 7111 on send us an on-line enquiry.

 

The new Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) Visa

The Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa will come into effect by March 2018.  It replaces the 457 visa and will be split into two groups Short-Term stream and Medium-Term stream. Here’s what you need to know:

What happens if I am on a 457 visa?

Those currently on a 457 visa will continue under the existing rules which apply to a 457.  The Department of Immigration and Border Protection is expected to announce what may happen to these 457 holders in the future.  It may be that an individual can transfer from a 457 to a TSS visa.

Short-Term TSS stream

The aim of the Short-Term TSS visa scheme is to allow businesses to fill posts with foreign workers on a temporary basis. They can only do this when they cannot find a suitably skilled Australian worker.

The positions eligible on the Short-Term TSS visa stream will be listed on the Short-Term Skilled Occupations List.  It’s a two-year visa with the possibility of one renewal so that’s a maximum of four years. It’s not clear at this stage whether they will be available to move onto permanent residency under the Employee Nominated Scheme (ENS) or Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS). All potential applicants will need to meet a certain standard of English and score 5 or above on an International English Testing System (IELTS). 

Medium-Term TSS stream

The aim of this scheme is to allow Australian businesses to fill posts with foreign workers where there is a severe shortage in highly skilled and in demand occupations.  These positions have been assessed as being of high value to the Australian economy.

The positions eligible on the Medium-Term TSS visa stream will be listed on the Medium and Long Term Skilled Occupations List.  This visa is available for 4 years and people can qualify for permanent residency after three years of employment with the same employer.

For further information, advice and assistance, please contact the experienced team of Immigration Lawyers and Registered Migration Agents at Nevett Ford Lawyers Melbourne:

Telephone: + 61 3 9614 7111

Emailmelbourne@nevettford.com.au