The Department of Immigration and Citizenship has announced an increase to salary thresholds that apply to the 457 visa programme in Australia.

The temporary skilled migration income threshold (TSMIT) will be indexed by 3.9% for all new nominations, in line with the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) report on average weekly earnings.

The TSMIT will rise from $47,480 to $49,330, an increase that ensures salaries for subclass 457 visa holders keep pace with annual wage growth for all Australians.

This change leaves existing subclass 457 visa holders unaffected unless they change employer and require a new nomination.

'This annual change ensures that new nominated salaries for the subclass 457 programme keep pace with wage inflation. If market salary rates for the position are below the new threshold, the position will not be eligible for the 457 programme,' a DIAC spokesman said.

Market salary rates, an integral part of the 457 programme, require employers to provide temporary skilled workers the same terms and conditions as Australians who undertake equivalent work in the same workplace. This mitigates potential exploitation of foreign workers and prevents employers undercutting Australian wages and conditions.

'The 457 program is highly responsive to the Australian labour market. The annual indexation of the TSMIT ensures the program adjusts to the broader conditions of the labour market, with overseas workers only being brought in where genuine skills shortages exist,' the spokesman explained.

'The department continues to make it clear that subclass 457 visa holders should not be employed ahead of local workers. Overseas temporary skilled workers are not a cheaper option,' he added.

The salary threshold at which English language testing can be waived is also being indexed by 3.9% to $88,410.

'With skill shortages emerging in some parts of the Australian economy, the 457 programme continues to provide employers with a flexible and efficient way for employers to meet short term skill shortages. The current median processing time for a 457 visa is 22 calendar days," the spokesman said.