Australian work visa 457 …
The Temporary Work (Skilled) Visa (Subclass 457)
has existed for around 20 years now 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 do that work can employ them for up to four years.
Popularity of 457 visa
The 457 is a very popular visa with 100,150 primary applicants holding it on January 31, 2016, almost double the amount at end 2007. Many more of their dependent spouses and children also hold 457 visas and have unrestricted work and study rights in Australia.
Employer approval process
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 businesses 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 also be a sponsor to establish, or help establish, a business operation in Australia or fulfil 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 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 also must not have ceased employment for more than 90 consecutive days.
English language requirements
Employees 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 one of 3 exemptions apply.
Character and health requirements for 457 visa
In addition, character and health requirements apply. Some trades occupations and passport holders from certain countries may be required to do a skills assessment (see the TRA website).
457 visa holders and permanent Australian residence
One of the attractions for 457 visa holders is the ability to apply from it for a permanent Australian residence visa if:
- they have two years with the employer who has sponsored them AND
- the employer provides a full-time position in the 457 visa holder’s nominated occupation.
This allows them to view permanently settling in Australia and later becoming Australian citizens.
457 visas and start up companies
There is a fair bit of industry discussion at present around the fact that a person can still “sponsor themselves” (even though that 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, it will be difficult due to DIBP being blind generally to the law/policy distinction and the policy being new and in favour with them (until it probably gets overturned due to public unpopularity).
Challenges with 457 visas
The other challenging issue, with all types of 457 visas at present, is convincing DIBP that the job position is actually “genuine”. This applies whichever way you do a 457, though some occupations will be easier than others.
How to apply for a 457 visa
A lot of very particular detail and great care is required as for all visa types, so you are best to obtain professional advice and representation from an experienced migration lawyer.