The federal government is also doubling the period of time – to six years – that some businesses can qualify to apply to sponsor workers. Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said on Wednesday he was creating a new accreditation scheme for the 457 visa system set to begin on November 7.
Businesses can become accredited if they’ve been an active 457 visa sponsor over the past three years, taking care of at least 30 overseas workers over the past 12 months – and can guarantee that their local workforce is at least 75 per cent Australian.
They will then be put into a priority queue for all future visa applications.
They’ll also be given approval for six years to bring in skilled workers – rather than the current three.
“This will continue to ensure that the 457 program is responsive to the economic cycle and provides a flexible avenue for employers to fill immediate and short-term skill vacancies, while maintaining opportunities and conditions for Australian workers,” Mr Bowen said during an address on Wednesday.
Mr Bowen said there’d already been a lot of improvement to the system, with processing times on the way down.
“Average processing times for 457 visa applications are also 30 per cent lower than they were in 2006-07 – down from 31 to 22 days,” he said.
“Our aim is to see 457 visas processed within 10 days.”
The use of 457 visas is increasing, with 54,360 granted in 2010-11 – a jump of 38 per cent compared with the previous period.
Britain is the most popular source country, with 11,820 citizens granted visas to Australia