Virginia, US
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| Chris Spentzaris

Over 50? Overcoming the Hurdles to Employer-sponsored Permanent Residence

While applicants for permanent residence sponsored by their employer must usually be aged under 50 years old, there are some important age exemptions available.  These exemptions relate to high salary, occupation, or New Zealand citizenship, and if you can meet requirements for one of these exemptions, then you can actually be any age when you apply.
The requirements are however strict and you sometimes also need to be careful about any adult-aged children who you are wishing to include. Being able to include them will sometimes require careful planning, well in advance.
Nonsensical requirements?
If you are applying for an age exemption on the basis of being a high salary earner or medical practitioner in regional Australia, the requirements are quite cumbersome. The law usually requires you to have held a 457 visa for at least four years with the same employer.  It will usually also require you to hold a second 457 visa - even for just a day or two - before being able to apply for permanent residence.  This can add an additional hurdle to the process, although with appropriate planning and advice, these inconveniences can be minimised so that an application is submitted soon after being eligible.
The high salary exemption
The age exemption most used by visa applicants relates to high salary earners.  These people must have worked on a 457 visa for at least four years for the same employer who is now nominating them for permanent residence, including in the same occupation for at least the past two years.  They must also have been receiving a high salary– with annual ‘earnings’ at least at the Fair Work High Income Threshold (FWHIT) throughout those four years. That threshold, which is set by Fair Work Australia, is adjusted annually as a result of Fair Work Commission annual wage reviews.  For the past five years, the threshold has been as follows:
  • July 2011 - June 2012: $118,100
  • July 2012 - June 2013: $123,300
  • July 2013 - June 2014: $129,300
  • July 2014 - June 2015: $133,000
  • July 2015 - June 2016: $136,300
Occupational and New Zealand citizen exemptions
Other exemptions to the age limit include certain applicants who are:
  • Skilled researchers, scientists and technical specialists who are nominated by Australian scientific government agencies;
  • Senior academics who are nominated by an Australian university for the academic position in Australia of university lecturer, or faculty head, (at academic level B, C, D or E);
  • Medical practitioners nominated for a position in regional Australia, who have previously worked for at least two years in regional Australia and who meet certain other requirements; and
  • New Zealand citizens, or their family members, who have been working in their nominated occupation in Australia for their employer for at least two out of the past three years.
How can Fragomen assist
We can assist you by conducting an in-depth eligibility assessment if you are approaching 50, or if you are already aged over 50.  Our assessment will confirm if and when you can apply, and it will also include important strategic planning for any of your children who will be aged over 18 years and who are potentially at risk of not being eligible to be included. 
For further information on these requirements, or for advice on a particular situation, please contact me on +61 3 9613 9333 or