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The 457 Business Sponsorship visa is the most commonly used visa for an employer wishing to sponsor overseas workers to work in Australia on a temporary basis. An employer wishing to sponsor a worker under the 457 visa must first apply to be a sponsor to recruit overseas workers.

To apply as a sponsor, an employer must demonstrate their contribution to the training of Australians by providing evidence of meeting the Training Benchmarks. There are currently two Benchmarks, and the employer may choose which Benchmark they will meet.

Training Benchmark A – Industry Training Fund

Employers can meet Training Benchmark A by paying the equivalent of at least 2% of recent payroll expenditure to an industry Training Fund operating in an industry relating to the employer’s business.

Industry Training Fund

An Industry Training Fund is a statutory authority responsible for providing funding for training of eligible workers in certain industries. The employer must provide evidence of having made the necessary contributions to the Industry Training Fund, such as a receipt or letter of acknowledgement from the Fund.

Where there is no Industry Training Fund operating in the same sector as the employer, the employer can make the contribution to a recognised scholarship fund that supports education or training of Australians citizens or permanent residents in a university or TAFE course related to the business of the employer.

Training Benchmark B – Employee Training

An employer can meet Training Benchmark B my providing evidence of spending 1% of their payroll on training for their employees who are Australian citizens or permanent residents. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship has a list of examples of training that may count towards meeting Training Benchmark B. The key requirement of the training is it be formal, structured and independently verifiable. Furthermore, the training must be relevant to the employer’s business activities.

Apprentices, trainees and graduates

Apprenticeships and traineeships constitute training positions for the purpose of the 457 visa. Where the employer employs an apprentice or trainee, the salary provided to the person can be counted towards calculating whether the training benchmark of 1% of payroll expenditure has been met as required under Training Benchmark B.

Notwithstanding the above, graduate positions are not considered training positions. Sponsors wanting to count expenditure on a graduate position towards Training Benchmark B may only attribute expenditure that is for the formal aspects of the graduate position, for example, the costs for administering the graduate program.

Moreover, wages paid to staff while attending training cannot be counted towards the Benchmark, unless the staff are apprentices, trainees or graduates.

Recent expenditure

Under both Training Benchmark A and Training Benchmark B, the employer must show expenditure is a ‘recent expenditure’. The expenditure must have occurred in the previous 12 months to qualify as a ‘recent’ expenditure.

If you require assistance with apply to be a sponsor under a 457 visa, or wish to apply for a 457 Business Sponsorship visa, do not hesitate to contact Berrigan Doube Lawyers on (02) 9651 6699.