Australia - Processing times

6-8 weeks With the widely advertised skill shortage across Australia, increase in 457 visa applications, turnover of staff, increased security and bona-fide tests, the Australian Immigration Department has officially stated their processing time for ETA-eligible passport holders who apply for 457 visas is 6-8 weeks.

Please see below definition of ‘ETA- eligible’ Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong (SAR), Iceland, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Monaco, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Republic of San Marino, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Passports issued by the authorities of Taiwan, United Kingdom, United States of America, Vatican City. 10-12 weeks For non-ETA eligible passport holders, the official processing time is quoted as 10-12 weeks – that is 3 months.

What does this mean for HR professionals?

HR Managers are now faced with a decision of either bringing ‘ETA-eligible’ passport holders onshore to Australia or have the prospective applicant remain overseas until the decision is made on the 457 visa. This has always been the case but with the increased delay in processing, you are now faced with the possibility of having a person on an ETA in Australia for up to 3 months while they undertake x-rays, collate documents, request letters of previous employment and have their documents certified. All of this on top of ‘not working’ and not being paid by an Australian entity.

See below the definition of work * * Condition 8112 is placed on all Business ETA’s.

The definition of ‘work’ is The holder must not engage in work in Australia that might otherwise be carried out by an Australian citizen or an Australian permanent resident. (‘work’ is defined as meaning an activity that, in Australia, normally attracts remuneration). Solution DIAC have advised that there will be a system where 457 applications from ‘good employers’ will be processed quicker than the above time frames – ‘good’ being monitoring compliant and known to the Department as a frequent sponsor. Of course, we will apply for this for all of our clients, however the Department haven’t yet sorted out how they are going to process these applications quicker than others due to their lack of staff and increased workload. Therefore, we encourage clients to make a Policy decision whether they are going to leave their prospective staff offshore until the visa has been decided or bring them onshore.

If you are gong to being them onshore, can we suggest that you advise your prospective staff of the following :

  1. They will require letters of reference from previous employers confirming their duties and responsibilities and dates of employment
  2. They will require a valid passport which is valid for at least 6 months
  3. They will need to have a copy of their tertiary qualification (if applicable)
  4. If they have children , they will require full length birth certificates naming both parents These documents will assist with front-end loading applications and assist in cutting down processing times.

Prospective Immigration changes But wait, there is more!. Further changes are due on 1 July including English testing requirements for 457 visa applicants, however we believe that there are waiver provisions.

As the legislation has not yet been published, the Immigration Department is reluctant to advise of the exceptions rule but we do understand that the ruling on English testing is to legislate that applicants from non-English speaking countries will be required to meet the 4.5 IELTS (International English Language Testing System) rule. This is classified as ‘functional’ and will be applicable for 457 visa applications lodged on or after 1 July 2007.

As soon as we have notification of the waiver provision, we will advise you. Amanda Tinner - MARN 0325139 Alicia Kerassitis - MARN 0318623 Zeno Bolzicco - MARN 9682940

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