Disclaimer: I am not a registered migration agent. All the information that follows on the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (Subclass 457) is based on our personal experience from applying and being granted a 457 visa back in 2008. I have also included information from the Visa First migration agency website, a partner of Sydney Moving Guide, that I have summarized with their approval.
If you have specific questions about the 457 visa, I highly recommend contacting Visa First or another registered migration agent as application policies change frequently and a migration agent is up-to-date whereas I am not.
Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (Subclass 457) is an employer sponsored visa that allows overseas workers to work in Australia for a maximum of four years.
The subclass 457 visa is probably the most common pathway for work sponsorship in Australia.
Don’t worry, after your four years are up you can renew your 457 visa for another four years but, to be honest, at that point you should probably consider applying for your Australian Skilled Migration Independent Visa (subclass 189). Many expats living in Sydney that start out on a 457 visa usually end up applying for a 189 visa after a couple of years that way they are not tied to one employer and a specific job title description.
Yes, you can change employers but you have to find an employer that can take over your visa sponsorship. You also only have 90 days to find a new employer willing to do so.
With a 457 visa, eligible dependents, spouse or de facto partners, are able to work and study in Australia without worry about their visa status.
For example, I am the secondary on my husband’s 457 visa. As the secondary I am able to work anywhere that will have me, switch jobs whenever I want or go back to school without worrying about my visa status. On the other hand, my husband’s visa status is dependent (as is mine as I won’t be allowed to stay in Australia without him) on him working at a specific position with the company that has sponsored his visa.
Ok, before I get too ahead of myself here, so let’s cover some of the basic of the 457 sponsorship visa in Australia.
What You Need to Know about the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (Subclass 457)
What Does the 457 Visa allow you to do?
- A skilled worker can use this visa to travel to Australia and work for their approved sponsor and in the nominated occupation for a period of four years.
- You can bring your family here too for work or study.
- You can travel in and out of Australia as many times as you wish.
- An approved business entity should sponsor you.
- You must have the requisite skills to work in the nominated position.
The 457 Visa Application Procedure
There are basically three stages to getting your 457 visa, with you stepping in really at the last stage.
The first is up to the employer and getting approval to sponsor overseas workers. The second is the nomination of the position the company needs to fill. Then the last stage is the overseas employee (you) applying for their 457 visa.
Don’t worry. Most companies have a migration agent or a staff person who is very familiar with the process and will walk you through it. Even so there are a few things you need to be aware of.
You should have a valid passport and other travel documents necessary for this visa so if you don’t have your passport yet or it’s going to expire soon then get this done.
The more complete your application is the sooner it will be approved.
You should satisfy the following eligibility criteria.
- Your nominated position should be in an approved occupation as per the Skilled Occupation lists.
- You should be having the requisite skills for the nominated occupation.
- You should satisfy registration and license obligations.
- You must be able to speak vocational English.
- An approved business entity should nominate you.
Character Requirements for a 457 Visa
To be granted an Australian work visa you need to be of “good character”. By this they basically mean not a criminal but unfortunately they won’t take your word for it.
To prove you are of good character you need to provide police certificates (yeah, as in a “rap” sheet) for each country that you have lived in for 12 months or more over the last 10 years since turning 16.
You will need to get fingerprints done. Be sure to use the FBI fingerprint form. We went down to our local police station, with our finger print form, and had it done there. If by chance you are from Seattle then here is a link for fingerprinting.
Health Requirements for Temporary Entry into Australia
This visa requires you to meet certain health requirements. These requirements will change on a case-to-case basis. It depends on your personal circumstances that include your stay in Australia, your country of citizenship, time spent in other countries over the last five years, and your intended occupation in Australia.
The results are valid for a period of one year.
The same criteria applies to your family or any of the dependents on your visa application.
You will also have to get a medical examination and chest x-ray for the health requirement for your visa. The examination and chest x-ray are to make sure you don’t have any contagious cooties like Tuberculosis (TB). To meet this requirement you will need to go to one of the immigration panel doctors.
Having private health insurance while you are living in Australia is a requirement for a 457 visa. Here is a link to our section on health insurance for expats.
Who Can You Include on Your Visa Application?
Your family can include the following members.
- Your spouse or de facto partner
- Your dependent children (includes spouse’s dependent children too)
- Other dependent relatives
Spouse and De Facto Partner
To prove that you are the spouse of the primary applicant is a whole lot easier than proving de facto partnership. All it takes is a marriage certificate. To prove a de facto relationship it’s a bit more involved.
Acceptable evidence of a de facto relationship may include, but is not limited to:
- evidence of cohabitation for 12 months
- joint bank account statements
- joint ownership of property
- billing accounts in joint names
How long will it take to get your 457 visa approval?
If you send in all your documents at the same time as your visa application, the usual turnaround is 90 days.
We sent in all of our documents except for our FBI records (no longer needed for a 457 visa unless requested) because it was just taking too long which added on time for our visa application approval but really not much.
We did end up on a plane on our way to Sydney without our 457 visa approval.
Instead we had a temporary three month ETA visa that allowed us to enter Australia lawfully while our 457 visa status was being determined.
So don’t panic if things get down to the wire, the temporary holiday visa will get you into the country and give you time to find an apartment before your 457 visa comes through. Be aware though that the real estate agent will need that 457 visa asap to rent you an apartment as you cannot sign a lease without it. You also cannot work on a temporary holiday visa.
This is a good option if you don’t have very long to wait for your visa approval. For us, it was a few days after we arrived before our 457 got approved and it took longer than a few days to find an apartment in Sydney. Ah, good times.
There is a great group on LinkedIn for 457 Visa Holders. Several migration agents are part of the group and they answer questions on a regular basis. It’s a fast and easy way to get all your questions answered. I highly recommend joining it as you will see from the comments below. Please remember, I’m not a migration agent so it is best to ask those in the know.
How We Ended Up with a 457 Visa and Moving to Australia
This is how it worked for us and I reckon it will be similar for you.
My husband was contacted by an IT recruiter that was looking to fill a position in Sydney.
After several emails back and forth with the recruiter, discussing the position and asking about other positions she might have available plus comparing salary options, not to mention deciding if we even wanted to move abroad which now seems like such a silly question, he finally said yes that he was interested in the position in Sydney.
From there she got in touch with the hiring company and set up an interview. He had a couple of interviews actually, now that I think about it.
That makes sense though, right?
Since they were moving us all the way out to Sydney, they wanted to make sure he was a good fit for the company and he equally wanted to be certain that it would be a good career decision even regardless of the location. In the end, all things went well and the position in Sydney was offered and accepted.
That’s when all the fun began.
Want to get in touch with a recruiter in Sydney? I have an article on finding a job in Sydney with a list of recruiters at the bottom. Check it out.
Changes to the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (Subclass 457) requirements effective July 1st 2013.
- Employers are now limited to the number of employees they can sponsor on a 457 Visa.
- 457 visa holders now have 90 days to find new sponsorship. Increased from 28.
- The market salary assessment exemption threshold has been increased to $250 000.
- All new company sponsorship applications will now have to stipulate how many places they want to be able to nominate in the life of the sponsorship agreement.
- An English language exemption for certain occupations has now gone. Everyone will have to prove English language ability (e.g. IELTS exam) if they are not a UK, USA, Ireland, Canada or NZ passport holder. If you have five continuous years secondary schooling or higher in English that will satisfy the requirement.
- Skills assessments required for 457 visas now for project and program administrators and specialist managers not elsewhere classified.
- Start-up businesses that have been trading less than 6 months will only be granted an initial 12 month sponsorship agreement and any connected 457 visas will also only be granted for 12 months.
These changes do not affect those who already have their 457 visa previous to July 1st 2013.