The Recruiter's Soapbox


457 visas in Australia. Confused? You are not alone…

The issue of 457 visas in Australia and the legislative changes surrounding them is a hot topic at the moment. We are fielding dozens of calls a day from both clients and candidates regarding this issue. It seems that there is a huge amount of confusion in the market.

Why the confusion?

  • Some of the legislation is ambiguous at this stage and, therefore, open to interpretation. So advice from one immigration lawyer can differ from another, based on their individual “take” on the changes.
  • In addition to the legislative changes, some companies have reviewed their own internal hiring criteria relating to 457 visa candidates and in some cases, their company criteria is being banded around as the new government changes, when in fact it is just an internal business decision made in line with changing market conditions.


After taking advice from a number of immigration specialists, this is our “take” on how the current immigration policy affects Recruitment Consultants hoping to gain sponsorship in Australia.

1. Has the basic criteria for Recruitment Consultants to qualify for sponsorship changed? Under ANZSCO, the skill requirement for the occupation of Recruitment Consultant is a bachelor degree or higher qualification. Alternatively, five years of relevant experience may substitute for formal qualifications. This criteria remains unchanged but let’s break this down:

a. Recruiters need to have a relevant degree.

This, in my opinion, is the most confusing area and the one that seems the most open to interpretation. What is definite, however, is that this area has been tightened up.

The current legislation states that case officers need to “be mindful that the qualifications and experience of the applicant must be relevant to the nominated occupation”. This is pretty straight forward where vocational degrees exist i.e. an architect must have a degree in architecture, a doctor must have a degree in medicine, however something like recruitment is open to interpretation.

As yet, there is nothing in the legislation that states what degrees are deemed relevant to recruitment. I am pretty sure that a business degree is going to be looked on favourably but if I was going for sponsorship, again would I have been granted a visa with my social sciences degree? Could I have argued that my one module of psychology was relevant and would this have been enough?

Basically it needs to be proved that a Recruitment Consultant has a degree that can be attributed to their commercial experience. This is going to put a stop on a good many consultants gaining a 457 visa moving forward. For an industry that struggles to attract quality talent at the best of times – the Government seems determined to make it even harder for us.

b. Applicants without a degree must be able to demonstrate a minimum of 5 years relevant experience.

There are rumours abounding that this has to be 5 years straight recruitment experience and that sales experience will no longer be taken into account. This is incorrect. The criteria remains the same. We are still looking for candidates with a min of 5 years recruitment and/or B2B sales experience. We are advised that sales experience should remain relevant, as the role of Recruitment Consultant is essentially marketing candidates. Retail (shop-floor) sales experience will probably not be sufficient but B2B sales experience should be.

2. Another popular misconception is that the recruitment industry is now bound by the labour test and for each individual 457 visa application; a company needs to be able to provide evidence of taking reasonable measures to find a local Australian candidate. This is incorrect. At this stage, Labour Market testing is not set to commence until 1 January 2014 and even then it is expected that most of ANZSCO skill level 1 and 2 occupations (Recruitment is skill level 1) will be exempt from this test. However, we will have to wait and see to be 100% sure.

3. The costs have dramatically increased. The costs relating to sponsoring a Recruitment Consultant have increased with normal 457 applications almost doubling to $900 for a standard application. If, however, a company is sponsoring an individual with a family of 4 (spouse and 2 children) this increases to over $5,000. This is not an amount that any company in the current climate can take lightly. It is within reason then, that a business may only be prepared to cover this type of cost if they are bringing in very high levels of experience, very specific sought after skill sets and detailed industry knowledge i.e. expectations on candidates will probably increase.

4. There is a tighter stewardship of sponsoring under the banner of “program and project administrators”. This traditionally has been used as a low level catch all classification and the government feels it has been abused. Companies that have used this in the past to get candidates across the visa line will no longer be able to do so.

5. Training. There is to be a big focus, moving forward, on enforcing the rule that a sponsoring company spends 1% of its payroll on training Australian residents within the business. This rule has always been in place but perhaps not fully policed. Moving forward this will now fall under the remit of Fair Work Australia and will be enforced via audits. Anyone who has not been allocating the current funds to this will have to do so.

6.  Start up businesses: The term of sponsorship approval for start-up businesses has been amended to an initial 12 months and all subclass 457 visa holders sponsored by start up business are limited to an initial 12 month visa (start up businesses are classified as a business with less than 12 months trading under their belt). This may make it very difficult for start up companies to attract skilled overseas talent.


I hope this helps clear up some of the confusion. If you have any further questions on this topic, feel free to speak with a Consultant at Barton Mills. If we don’t know the answer we can refer you to our immigration advisors who have been giving us accurate advice on this topic for the past 10 years.