Why apply for a 457 Visa and who is it suitable for?

The temporary work (skilled) visa (subclass 457) has existed for around 20 years and allows skilled workers from an approved government list of occupations to come to or remain in Australia and work.

Approved business sponsors who cannot find an Australian citizen or permanent resident to that work can employ workers with a 457 visa for up to four years.

The 457 is a very popular visa

The 457 is a very popular visa, with 100,150 primary applicants holding it on January 31st 2016, almost double the amount at the end of 2007.

Many more of their dependent spouses and children also hold 457 visas and have unrestricted work and study rights in Australia.

How do I sponsor a foreign skilled worker?

Employers who want to sponsor a skilled worker from outside Australia for a Temporary Work (Skilled) Visa (Subclass 457), must first become an approved sponsor by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP).

To become a sponsor, you must be able to show that your business:

  • is a lawfully operating business
  • meets training requirements (Australian business sponsors only)
  • agrees to the number of subclass 457 workers to be nominated
  • has no relevant adverse information against the business

Australian businesses must also demonstrate their commitment to employing local labour as well as non-discriminatory recruitment practices.

Non-Australian businesses can sponsor this visa

Non-Australian businesses can also be a sponsor to establish, or help establish, a business operation in Australia or fulfill obligations for a contract in Australia.

457 Visa restrictions

Primary subclass 457 visa holders (with a few exceptions, such as doctors) are restricted to working for their sponsor and may not work (or volunteer) for any other organisation (other than associated entities as defined by the Australian Corporations Act). In order to change employer and sponsor, the “new employer” must be or become an approved 457 sponsor and then lodge a 457 nomination.

The worker must also not have ceased employment for more than 90 consecutive days during the period of the 457 visa or else they can lose the visa and be forced to leave the country.

What are the obstacles to a successful application?

There is a fair bit of migration industry / profession discussion and speculation at present around the fact that a person can still “sponsor themselves” (even though it is not what they are actually doing legally) on a 457 visa via a “start up” company established for that purpose.

Very recent immigration policy states this is not favoured at all by (DIBP), but policy is not law and such an application is still lawful.

However, such an application will be difficult due to DIBP being generally blind to the law / policy distinction and the policy being new and in favour with them (until it probably gets overturned due to public unpopularity).

The other challenging issue, with all types of 457 visas at present, is convincing DIBP that the job position is actually “genuine”. This applies to whichever way you do a 457, though some occupations will be easier than others.

A lot of very particular detail and great care is required in your application, therefore it is always safer to obtain professional advice and representation from an experienced migration lawyer, such as the lawyers at our office.

Steps for applying for a 457 Visa

Overseas skilled workers and any dependents must apply for and be granted a visa to travel to, or remain, in Australia.

It’s important to note that a subclass 457 visa application cannot be processed if your application is not supported by an approved sponsor and an approved nomination.

Subclass 457 visa holders can:

  • work in Australia for a period of between one day and four years
  • bring any eligible dependents with them to Australia – dependents can work and study
  • after entering Australia, have no limit on the number of times they can travel in and out of Australia, while their visa remains valid

What are the requirements for Visa application?

There are several requirements that prospective visa applicants must meet to be granted a Visa, including:

  • skills and experience necessary to perform the nominated occupation (a skill assessment may be required)
  • adequate health insurance must be arranged for the period of stay in Australia
  • genuine intention must be shown to perform the nominated occupation
  • potential 457 visa holders must also meet minimum levels of skill and English language requirements. The most common English test is the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) where an overall test score of at least 5.0 with a score of at least 4.5 in each of the four test components is required unless on of 3 exemptions apply
  • In addition, character and health requirements apply, together with a declaration concerning Australian values and laws must be met
  • Some trades occupations and passport holders from certain countries may be required to do a skills assessment (see the TRA website)

Is a 457 Visa a stepping stone to permanent residency?

One of the attractions for 457 visa holders is the ability to apply from it for a permanent Australian residence visa if the visa holder has two years with the employer who has sponsored them and if the employer provides a full-time position in the 457 visa holder’s nominated occupation.

This allows visa holders to plan for permanently settling in Australia and later becoming Australian citizens.

Concluding Remarks

The 457 is rightly a popular visa for migrants and for employers who have a difficulty attracting local / Australian workers.

It can be granted within 6 weeks approximately and used in conjunction with other visas, It is also a well-regarded route to permanent residence.

However, the visa application process is tricky to say the least, with many small and often changing rules. As with all migration applications the entire application must succeed. In other words, if any one aspect of it is refused the entire application will most likely fail!

A failed visa application is something to be avoided at all costs.

To ensure your best chance of a successful 457 Visa application I encourage you to contact our immigration lawyers for support.