Australian 457 Visas (a brief overview)
The Temporary Work (Skilled) visa is the most common temporary work visa available to persons seeking to work in Australia. It is sometimes simply known as a 457 visa. It allows skilled workers to come to Australia and work for an approved business for up to 4 years. This visa is designed to help Australian employers meet skill shortages.
You must be sponsored by an approved business. To be approved, that Australian business must meet certain requirements, particularly as to having a sound history of employment and training of Australian citizens or permanent residents.
Applying for a 457 visa is really a 3 step process:
1. The business applies to DIBP to be approved as a sponsor;
2. The business nominates the visa applicant; and
3. The visa applicant makes a 457 visa application.
These 3 steps are often lodged with DIBP at the same time.
Note that to be successful in applying for this visa, a person will not only need to be sponsored and nominated, but there will also need at least the following:
1. They must have an occupation (and be able to prove the skills and experience to evidence that), on a particular list of occupations. In respect to some occupations, they will need a “skills assessment” from an Australian assessing authority. For a look at the Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List, (CSOL) see here. For a detailed description of the qualifications and experience required for each of the eligible occupations, see here or here.
2. They must be able to prove that they have vocational English ability (there are exemptions in only certain limited circumstances). See recent changes here;
3. Where relevant, they must meet registration and licensing obligations;
4. They must meet certain health requirements;
5. They must have adequate health insurance, unless they are covered by Medicare. See also here;
6. They must meet certain character requirements;
7. They must have no outstanding debts to the Australian Government.
It’s also important to note that although this visa can be applied for, from either inside or outside Australia, you won’t be able to apply for this visa from inside Australia if you have a “No further stay” condition attached to your current visa. You’ll also need a valid passport (usually of at least 6 months remaining duration).
Note that since 23 November 2013, sponsoring businesses may also need to conduct Labour Market Testing prior to nominating a worker for a 457 visa. See discussion of this here.
It is also important to note that to have a nomination approved (the 2nd of the 3 steps), an approved sponsor will need to show not only that the salary offered to the worker is in excess of an amount called the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) but also, that the market salary rate for the position that the business is seeking to fill is greater than the TSMIT. The TSMIT is currently $53,900 but will rise again on 1 July 2014. In other words, in addition to showing that the proposed worker had been offered at least this much, the sponsoring business will need to prove that the amount offered is an appropriate amount for that occupation in that place. The simplest way of proving this is to show that this is the same amount that is being paid to an Australian citizen or permanent resident who is working in the same position and at the same place. There are other ways of demonstrating this of course. This requirement is designed to prevent businesses either paying workers to little, or too much (in order simply to facilitate the grant of the visa).
Some brief 457 Visa FAQs
Do I need to lodge an Expression of Interest through SkillSelect before I apply for a 457 Visa?
Not if you have an existing Australian business who is already prepared to sponsor you. However, for those skilled workers who do not have a sponsor, they may lodge an EoI in order to find potential sponsoring businesses.
How long is it for?
The visa may be granted for a period between 1 day and 4 years. However it is quite often a 4 year visa.
Can I bring family members with me?
You can apply to bring eligible secondary applicants to Australia under the same visa application. If approved, secondary applicants can work and study in Australia.
Once I’m in Australia what are my travel rights?
After entering Australia there is no limit (during the term of the visa) as to the number of times you may travel into and out of Australia.
Is there an upper age limit?
There is no upper age limit in respect to subclass 457 visas. Note however, that if you’re intending to use this visa to later apply for permanency, there may be an age limit which applies to that permanent visa. For instance, under Permanent residency visa subclass 186, an age limit of 50 years applied (subject to some minor exemptions).
What of my obligations under this visa?
You will have various ongoing obligations. but as a minimum you should note that you must continue to work in the nominated position, for the approved sponsor. If you leave that employment or change it, you’ll need to report your change of circumstances immediately to DIBP. You must continue to meet the employment conditions of your visa as well is meet health insurance requirements. In general terms, if you lose your sponsor you’ll need to find a new one within 90 days.
What if I have a child after I arrive in Australia?
You will need to immediately notify DIBP in writing and your child will then also hold a 457 visa. Note that your client does not have automatic rights to citizenship, simply by being born in Australia, if its parents are temporary residents.
Will I have the same work rights as Australian employees?
All employees working in Australia are covered by the Fair Work Act 2009, including subclass 457 visa holders. This means that you are entitled to fair pay, basic rights and protections within the workplace and that your sponsoring business must provide you with the same terms and conditions as Australian workers who perform the same work, at the same work location. You cannot be treated differently, nor can you be discriminated against. Australia has various organisations who can be contacted regarding workplace rights including for instance, the Fair Work Ombudsmen. See here.
Contact Australian Visa Law for more information and assistance.