Major 457 form changes

Over the weekend, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) were busy updating their eVisa forms for all three applications related to 457 visas: Business Sponsorships, Nominations, and 457 visa applications.

These changes have all been part of implementing recommendations from the 457 Integrity Review published in September 2014, namely paragraph 13.1 found on page 17:

“That consideration be given to creating streamlined processing within the existing 457 programme as a deregulatory measure. To maintain programme integrity, streamlining should be built around risk factors including business size, occupation, salary and sponsor behaviour.”

Consider the word “streamlined” when considering the major changes that have been made:

1.       Application for approval for a Business Sponsorship

  • Previous Business Sponsorship identification number. Only for businesses previously approved.
  • No request for details of the business’s legal name or trading name. Only identifiers such as Australian Business Numbers (ABNs) and Australian Company Numbers (ACNs) are now required. This could foreseeably be an inconvenience to the DIBP if they wanted to conduct unexpected monitoring if an approved sponsor is trading under a different name and this is not recorded on the form. They would need to find the registration of business name within the supporting documents attached to an application or make further enquiries. You can imagine DIBP officers appearing confused outside the correct business address but where the business trades under a different name.
  • If applicable, all trust names and trust ABNs. Most likely part of integrity measures to identify trusts with previous or current adverse findings.
  • Providing details of owners, directors, and principals of the business. This is simple enough for a small business, however, entering all of the details for a public company may give a migration agent quite a headache. Again, an integrity measure.
  • Identifications of annual turnover within a predefined range. This would enable identification of low, medium and higher risk businesses based on the size of the company by its turnover.

2.       Nomination of a position under a Sponsorship Agreement

  • Identification of what type of business sponsorship the nomination application is under. This was supposed to assist in preventing confusion between nominations under a Standard Business Sponsorship or Overseas Business Sponsorship and Labour Agreements. What is alarming is that it clearly states that the sponsorship was approved, however, it is not a requirement for a sponsorship to be approved to lodge a nomination, but simply that the Business Sponsorship application had been lodged. A different story with Labour Agreements. Logic would dictate that this is a drafting error that needs to be rectified as soon as possible.
  • Declarations of any adverse information about the business. This is suspected of catching businesses sponsors that have, since being an approved business, been found in breach of Australian laws or bankruptcy proceedings. A declaration is now required for each new nomination.
  • Declarations to confirm the position has not been created to obtain a migration outcome and that the business has not been paid by a visa applicant to be nominated. This, as proposed by Parliament, will not just be a basis for an application to be refused, but will in future also be unlawful conduct that will incur substantial penalties.
  • Declaration that the nominated occupation fits within the size and scope of the business. Many migration agents will say that the one regulation commonly requested for further information is evidence to substantiate genuineness of the nominated position. Whether this declaration will reduce such requests, is doubtful.
  • Identification of the nominee’s details. This is most likely so that the DIBP can quickly identify the nominee should they have had previous dealings with the DIBP.

3.       457 visa applications

  • Removal of business sponsorship identification numbers. A simple but important change. By removing this, it prevents visa applicants knowing the business’s sponsorship details, and therefore reduce the potential for migration fraud.
  • Other passports details. An integrity check in case the visa applicant has multiple passports.
  • Declaration that the visa applicant has not paid or promised to pay either the business or a third party for being nominated. This has already been addressed above.
  • Whether English language skills is a requirement for professional registration. This is to assess whether the visa applicant requires and has the higher threshold of English necessary to perform in their nominated occupation if it is necessary.
  • Further declarations. These include consent to the collection of fingerprints and facial image of the visa applicant(s) and that the DIBP can share this information with Australian law enforcement agencies for the purposes of visa eligibility and for law enforcement. It is of no surprise that this has been added as character and compliance has been the emphasis of the government of the day.

Overall, except for what can only be assumed to be a grammatical error that requires correction, most of the additional information is there to ensure that the business and visa applicant have correctly declared bona fide intentions as expected with the 457 visa programme.