From 14 April 2009 the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) raised the language requirement for all subclass 457 trades and chef applicants. There had been concerns about the exploitation of workers from non-English speaking countries.
The language requirement for the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) was raised from 4.5 to IELTS 5. This means that the requirement for subclass 457 English standard are the same as the requirements for permanent sponsored visas for trades occupations.
"This change applies to all subclass 457 applications lodged from today based on trades level and chef qualifications," the spokesman said.
"The requirement to ensure at least a 'modest' level of English – as defined under IELTS standards – is the first to be implemented after the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship announced a number of changes to the program."
The new English language requirements will also apply to current 457 visa holders who wish to extend their visas.
This follows on from changes announced on 1 April 2009:
- Indexation of the subclass 457 visa minimum salary level by 4.1 per cent from July 1
- The progressive implementation of skills assessment from 1 April 2009.
DIAC has stated that the subclass 457 visa program should continues to provide industry with needed skills while not undermining local training and employment opportunities. Changes to the Australian visa programs have occurred due to the current economic situation in parts of Australia.
In mid-September 2009 it was announced that there would be a transition to market-based pay; There is also a greater requirement for Employers to show that they are committed to employing local labour and that they have non-discriminatory employment practices.
DIAC in their report took the opportunity to remind people that there had been an English language requirement for subclass 457 visa applicants since 1 July 2007.