The 457 visa is an initiative used by Australian and overseas employers to sponsor skilled overseas employees to work in Australia on a temporary basis, usually of four years’ duration. Holders of a 457 visa are permitted to bring with them any family member who has unrestricted work and study rights in Australia, and they can also travel to and from Australia as often as they please. Holders of a 457 visa will more often than not apply for permanent residency in Australia and settle in the country on a long-term basis.
How 457 visa application works
Australian or overseas employers who cannot find suitably skilled candidates from the Australian market can sponsor skilled overseas employees under the subclass 457 visa programme, usually through a standard business sponsorship arrangement. This requires the employer to apply to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection for this purpose.
Alternatively, an employer can arrange a labour agreement with the Australian government to allow for the recruitment of overseas workers. These are generally used for special labour market circumstances that are not covered under standard business sponsorship arrangements. For industries such as meat processing and on-hire, a labour agreement is the only migrant employee option.
Stages of application
- Sponsorship: The employer applies for approval as a standard business sponsor and is required to nominate an occupation for a 457 visa.
- Nomination: The employer nominates an occupation for a prospective or current 457 visa holder. They can submit this nomination at the same time as their application to become a standard business sponsor.
- Visa application: The skilled worker selected for the nominated occupation applies for a 457 visa.
Requirements for a 457 visa
This video cites a checklist of items that any 457 visa applicant needs to have prepared before submitting their application.
Any person wishing to apply for a subclass 457 visa is obligated to meet a number of clearly defined requirements before submitting their application for the visa. The applicant is required to:
- Have an employer who is agreeable to sponsoring them for a nominated skilled position
- Have adequate health insurance
- Satisfy an adequate standard of English language proficiency
- Not have a previous criminal record
- Be able to demonstrate that they possess the skills, experience and characteristics necessary for the nominated skilled position
- Qualify for any licences or registration as required by the nominated skilled position
Checklist of documents required for a 457 visa
You will be required to produce a series of documents as evidence to support any claims made if you are applying for a 457 visa, sponsoring an applicant or nominating a worker. The success of the entire application could be dependent on the volume and reliability of information provided in submitting the application. Failure to disclose any relevant documentation, or to satisfactorily complete any documents submitted, is likely to result in the application being rejected.
- Any person applying for a 457 visa is required to submit this documentation with their application.
- Any person sponsoring an applicant for a 457 visa is required to provide this documentation for submission of the application.
- Any person nominating a worker as part of a 457 visa application is required to provide this documentation for submission of the application.
All documents should be prepared and completed by the time you submit your application for a 457 visa. To lodge a completed application, attached any scanned copies of supporting documentation through your ImmiAccount. If you are already in Australia and you need to lodge your application without all supporting documentation being ready, ensure to submit an adequate explanation as to why certain documentation is not yet ready.
457 visa processing time
For low-risk workers, a 457 visa will usually be processed within two months. For high-risk workers, processing could take approximately three months.
Low-risk workers are defined as those from countries which issue passports that are eligible to apply for an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA). High-risk workers refer to those from countries which don’t have ETA eligibility.
You are eligible to apply for an ETA if you hold a passport from any of these countries or territories:
457 visa sponsorship
Who can become a sponsor?
To be a sponsor for a 457 visa, businesses must prove that they are operating lawfully and that there is no relevant adverse information against them. Businesses must also demonstrate a commitment to employing local labour, in addition to non-discriminatory recruitment practices. Businesses can become an approved sponsor by applying to be a standard business sponsor or negotiating a labour agreement.
Can sponsors apply for accreditation?
A sponsor can apply for accreditation if they have a prolonged history of positive dealings with the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection. This includes lodging a high volume of good quality, decision-ready applications and having an excellent record of compliance with relevant legislation. With accreditation, sponsorship is valid for six years and applications will be treated with priority.
How long does sponsorship last?
Standard business sponsorships have a five-year duration. Accredited sponsorships have an additional year, while start-up business sponsorships last for 18 months.
Employer obligations for a 457 visa
Employers sponsoring a 457 visa application must comply with certain obligations so that they are not wrongfully exploiting skilled overseas workers and that they are using the 457 visa programme as it is intended rather than merely undercutting the wages of local labour. Sponsorship requirements include:
- Co-operating with inspectors
- Ensuring fair, equal terms and conditions of employment
- Keeping requisite records
- Providing records and information to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection
- Notifying the authorities of relevant changes in circumstances
- Ensuring the participation of the 457 visa holder in the nominated occupation
- Not recovering costs from the sponsored worker
- Paying travel costs to enable sponsored people to leave Australia when the employment period ends
- Paying costs incurred by the Commonwealth to locate and remove unlawful non-citizens
- Providing training to Australians and permanent residents
- Avoiding discriminatory recruitment practices
Is the compliance of sponsors monitored by the authorities?
Yes. Sponsors will be checked to verify if they are compliant with their requirements and these checks can continue throughout the sponsorship and up to five years after the sponsorship has ended. Monitoring is generally performed in the following three ways:
- Written correspondence to ask for information in accordance with the obligation to provide records and information
- Scheduled/spot check visits to the sponsored business premises
- Exchange of information with other Commonwealth, state and territory government agencies
What are the possible consequences of failing to meet sponsorship obligations?
- Prohibition from sponsoring skilled overseas workers for a defined time period
- Prohibition from applying to be a sponsor in relation to the 457 visa and other similar programmes
- Cancellation of all existing sponsorship approvals
- Entry into an enforceable undertaking (i.e. a written guarantee to undertake certain actions demonstrating the rectification of failures and assuring that such failures won’t happen again)
- Issuing of an infringement notice of up to $10,200 for a corporate sponsor and $2,040 for an individual sponsor for each failure
- Issuing of a civil penalty order of up to $51,000 for a corporate sponsor and $10,200 for an individual sponsor for each failure
457 visa application fee
Sponsorship for a 457 visa application costs $1,060 (additional costs apply if using a migration agent), while nomination for a 457 visa comes with a fee of $330.
How can a 457 visa be used to gain permanent residency?
Any person with a 457 visa can apply for permanent residency in Australia through one of three different methods:
- Employer-sponsored Temporary Transition: The 457 visa holder works for two years in Australia for the sponsor in the nominated position.
- Employer-sponsored Direct Entry: The 457 visa holder is not required to work in Australia, or be employed by an Australian company. He/she can qualify by taking a Skills Assessment (although this may not be required if the position is in a regional area) and having at least three years’ experience in a nominated occupation.
- Skilled Migration: A Skilled Migration visa can be granted to a 457 visa holder while they remain in Australia on a 457 visa, provided certain requirements are met.
Permanent residency via Employer Sponsorship
The Employer Sponsorship scheme requires holders of a 457 visa to be nominated by an Australian employer for a suitable position that will continue for a minimum of two years. Holders of a 457 visa can obtain permanent residency through Temporary Transition, Direct Entry or a stream whereby applicants are brought to Australia under a specific agreement as negotiated with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.
If the nominated position is located in a metropolitan area, the 457 visa holder applies for permanent residency via a 186 Employer Nomination Scheme visa. If the position is based in a regional area, the 457 visa holder applies for permanent residency through a 187 Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme visa.
Permanent residency via Skilled Migration
A Skilled Migration visa may be granted if the applicant passes a points test based on certain skills and characteristics. A 457 visa holder can remain in Australia while they apply for the Skilled Migration visa and, once this is granted, the 457 visa will expire.
Any person applying for a Skilled Migration visa must obtain a positive skills assessment in an occupation included on the Consolidated Skilled Occupation List (CSOL), demonstrate a basic standard of English language proficiency and achieve a mark of at least 60 points in a points test based on certain skills and characteristics.
Skilled Migration applicants who are independently sponsored will submit their application for permanent residency under a 189 Skilled Independent Visa. Applicants who are sponsored by a state or territory government will apply for permanent residency under a 190 Skilled Nominated Visa.
Talk to Ayers for further information about 457 visas
If you would like to know even more about immigration or sponsorship advice for 457 visas, whether you’re a business with a view to hiring a skilled contractor from overseas or an individual applying for the visa, contact Ayers today and speak to our team of knowledgeable, friendly experts.