The 457 visa

As the most commonly applied for and granted visa program for skilled workers to obtain sponsorship and employment in Australia, the 457 visa program allows people to work temporarily in Australia for up to four years, but it does not guarantee residence.

How does the 457 visa work?

With a 457 visa you can work in Australia for up to four years. You can bring your family with you (they can work and study) and you can travel in and out of Australia as often as you like.

The employer/sponsor must

apply to be a sponsor to recruit overseas workers; nominate the positions they want to fill; recruit the overseas workers to fill the nominated positions; and act as a sponsor for employees applying for a visa.

You as the employee accept the offer of employment from the employer; apply for the visa; and meet all the conditions of your visa.

Am I eligible for the 457 visa?

To apply for a 457 visa as an employee, your application must follow that of your sponsoring employer. To be considered for a 457 visa, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must be sponsored by an employer to fill a nominated position.
  • You must work in a skilled occupation that’s been approved by the Australian Government on the Consolidated sponsored occupations list.
  • You must have skills, qualifications, experience and an employment background which match those required for the position.
  • You must have English language skills equivalent to a test score of at least 5 across the four test components in an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test, or higher. You may also be required to demonstrate these skills through a formal test.
  • You must be eligible for any relevant licences or registration required for the nominated position.
  • You must demonstrate that you are to be paid at least the minimum salary level that applies at the time a decision is made on your visa.
  • You must meet all health requirement as set out by Information Form 1163i.
  • You must meet all character requirements.
  • If you are in Australia at the time of application, you must not have prohibitive restrictions or limitations placed on your current visa.
  • You must, if over the age of 18, be willing to declare your respect of Australian values and adhere to Australian law.
  • You must have 457 visa health insurance.
  • You must pay all relevant non-refundable application fees.

The Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold

The Australian government has introduced the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT), effective as of 14 September 2009. This threshold is intended to ensure that all 457 visa holders have sufficient income to independently provide for themselves in Australia and do not impose undue costs on the community or find themselves in circumstances which may put pressure on them to breach their visa conditions.

What does that mean for 457 nominations?

The TSMIT has no bearing on what the 457 visa holder should be paid in the workplace. In most cases, a nomination under this subclass visa program will be refused if the market salary rate is below the level of income mentioned above.

It is also not possible for a sponsor to inflate a nominated worker’s proposed salary in order to pass or meet the TSMIT requirement. It is the market salary rate for the nominated position that is compared to the TSMIT. For example, if the market salary rate is $39,500 – that is, the market salary rate amount that is paid to equivalent Australian workers in that particular workplace – then the nomination would normally be refused, as the salary is below the TSMIT.

1 July 2013 change

Prior to July 2013, if the nominated salary was above $180,000, nomination applications didn’t need to provide evidence that this salary is set according to a market salary rate.

However, from 1 July 2013, this exemption threshold is being raised to $250,000 to ensure that higher paid salary workers are not able to be undercut through the employment of overseas labour at a cheaper rate.

Changes being introduced on 1 July 2013

To ensure the subclass 457 program is being correctly utilised by employers, the following changes are being introduced to the program on 1 July 2013:

  • A genuineness criterion under which the department may refuse a nomination if the position doesn’t fit within the scope of the activities of the business.
  • The removal of English language exemptions for certain positions. Further information will be available on what positions will be affected nearer July.
  • Amendments to clarify that 457 workers may not be on-hired to an unrelated entity unless they are sponsored under a labour agreement.

Changes in your employment

If your employment contract ends before your visa expires, you must notify the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. If you cannot find another employer willing to sponsor you, you are required by Australian law to leave the country within 28 days of your employment’s end.

Holders of the 457 visa can change employers without needing to apply for a new visa. All you need is for your new employer to lodge a nomination and you can start working for them once the nomination is approved.

If you cease employment, as a 457 visa holder, you will need to find new employment in 90 days.

Visa eligibility and approval depends on the applicant’s individual circumstances