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Sponsorship Accreditation – Possible Solution to lengthy visa processing times

Processing times for subclass 457 as well as its successor, the TSS (482) visa continue to rise.  The average processing time for subclass 457 visa is 5 to 9 months whereas subclass 482 visas are taking 2 to 4 months.  The average wait time to speak with member of staff at the Department of Immigration is 1 hour.  This is clearly a result of the ever-changing legislative criteria, complex visa assessment process, less resource availability to process the visas and collective case management system whereby it is not possible for an applicant to contact the case officer in relation to a specific application. The only method of communication that remains available is via the generic drop box covering entire sponsored visa programme.  The Department has an ongoing policy to avoid providing updates in relation to cases which are within the standard processing times for obvious reasons.  However, this policy appears to impact cases where there is a genuine need to contact the Department, for example, in situations where a request for further information is issued erroneously and must therefore be dealt with swiftly. 

Whilst there appears to be no immediate solution to the lengthy processing times for subclass 457/482 visas, employers wishing to sponsor expatriate employees may wish to consider becoming an accredited sponsor and gain access to a number of assessment concessions as well as significantly reduced processing times. The sponsorship accreditation criteria expended, meaning that more businesses can access the accreditation framework.  

There are currently four categories of accreditation framework available:

1)      Commonwealth State and Territory Government Agencies

2)      Australian Trusted Traders

3)      Low volume usage and high percentage of Australian workers

4)      High volume usage and medium percentage of Australian workers 

Provided the business can meet one of the four criteria, accreditation becomes a possibility.  The Department may approve accreditation for start-up businesses who wish to apply for accreditation but do not meet these requirements where special circumstances apply (e.g. part of a government entrepreneurship program/award winner). These will be assessed on a case-by-case basis where accreditation is requested by a start-up business and a submission is provided requesting special consideration. 

The business will also need to demonstrate it has met other requirements including demonstrating consistent annual turnover, having previously sponsored certain number of 457/TSS visa holders prior filing an accrediting application as well as having a low non approval rating for 457/482 nominations.  

Full criteria for accreditation is available on Department’s website: https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/trav/visa-1/482-?modal=/visas/supporting/Pages/482/sponsorship-accreditation.aspx 

Once accredited, an employer will be granted a sponsorship accreditation facility with access to priority processing of 482 nomination and visa applications.  Streamlined nominations will be auto approved within minutes with no manual intervention.  Accredited sponsors will also be able to demonstrate Labour Market Testing by providing evidence of advertising for the sponsored role on their website.  Further, applicants sponsored by an accredited sponsor will not be required to obtain an overseas police clearance provided their sponsoring employer is able to issue a reference letter to confirm good character and no prior conviction. 

At present, accredited sponsors are afforded processing times of approximately two business days in most cases and up to three weeks in some.  Streamlined nominations are auto-approved meaning a decision is made within minutes of lodgement.  This clearly is a significant reduction in processing times in comparison to non-accredited sponsors, therefore employers who are looking to sponsor overseas workers should consider becoming accredited if eligible.

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