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Australian Sponsored Work (457) Visas: A Primer

This post is about obtaining sponsored working visas for Australia. I will be posting about working holiday visas and skilled migration soon; in the meantime, yTravelBlog has some really good details about how to obtain a working holiday visa. The other posts in this series on sponsored work are Step 2: Applying, and Step 3: Special Cases and Things to Consider.

Brisbane Sunset

One of many sunsets seen from the roof of my office.

This week, I was a bit shocked to find out that Australia is changing its work visa scheme yet again.

Actually, I take that back. I wasn’t shocked. The Labor government has been trying to push out immigrants (and stop them from coming in in the first place) ever since they came in to power. I don’t want to get political, but this really is my major gripe with the Labor party.

That aside, it is still possible to get medium-term work visas (and even permanent residency) in Australia. However, it will be much easier to do so before changes are introduced on 1 July 2012…unless you go through the sponsored visa route.

Currently, you have three main choices if you would like to work in Australia long-term. You can:

  1. Get a working holiday visa, which allows you to stay in the country for a year but only work for the same employer for a 6-month period;
  2. Get a general skilled migration visa;
  3. Get a sponsored work visa through a company.

I got lucky and managed to go through the sponsorship route. I say I got lucky because my company in the US agreed to sponsor me for a job in Perth. When that job did not work out, I sent out 30 resumes to companies in Brisbane and mostly got replies stating that the company would not consider anyone that requires a visa. My current company was the only one that said they’d even consider dealing with the sponsorship application!

Because I went through that (and in total have applied for three sponsored visas), I thought it might be helpful to put together some tips and a basic process for applying for a sponsored visa. The first thing you need to do is make sure that you have done enough preparation that the application process goes as smoothly as possible. I would suggest that you do the following:

  1. Check the skilled occupations list and see if your occupation is on it. You cannot be nominated if your occupation is not classified on this list…but don’t worry, it seems like nearly every occupation I could think of were included on the list (and many that weren’t, like horse breeders)!
  2. Compile the necessary documentation. It is very important to start this well before you start the actual application process because your potential employer could get frustrated if your end of the application is held up. The documents that I had to have for my three 457 visa applications included:
    1. A certified birth certificate
    2. A copy of my passport
    3. An FBI clearance stating that I have not committed any crimes on their record (a similar clearance is required for all countries that you have lived in in the last 5 years)
      • This one can take up to thirteen weeks to get processed, and the last time I did it they would not mail it internationally, meaning my parents had to forward it over from the US.
    1. Recent passport photo
    2. Proof of qualifications. In my case, because I was applying for a job in IT, I needed to provide proof that I was qualified for this job. This included:
      • Proof of high school education. I gave them a copy of my diploma and my high school transcript.
      • Proof of college education. This was difficult for my first visa because I hadn’t officially been granted my diploma. Had I had this, I would have provided it and my college transcript. Instead, I had to provide:
        • Full transcript
        • Student record that showed my expected graduation date and degree
        • An official enrollment verification from the office of the registrar
        • A letter from my department stating that I had met all of the requirements for my degree
      • If you have any professional qualifications or certificates you are required to provide certified copies of these as well.
    1. Details of any previous visas (excepting ETA visas) that I had held in Australia
    2. Note: Had any “secondary” applicants been applying with me, I would have had to produce proof that they were in fact part of my family — for instance, with birth certificates of children or marriage certificates for a partner.
  1. Find an employer that is willing to sponsor you. As I said above, this is usually easier said than done. I suggest starting your job search months before your current visa runs out to avoid as much undue stress as possible. Some good places to start your job search are:

You should ensure that the employer understands that you need a work visa before you go through the interview process. While it means that you will likely get a lot more rejections at first, it’s a lot better than getting all the way through the process and then springing it on them at the end.

Also, this is the only employer that you can work for as a 457 visa holder. All other work (unless voluntary) is prohibited under visa condition 8107 and could lead to cancellation of your visa if found out by the ATO or immigration.

Now that you have a potential employer and all of your documentation in order, you’re ready to start the application process.

UPDATE( 26 April 2016): After 3.5 years of answering questions regarding issues around applications for 457 visas, I have closed comments on this post. I feel like my initial post plus my 200+ responses to questions on my Now That You Have Your Australian 457 Visa article are as much as I can offer on this subject, particularly as I last went through the 457 process in 2010. 

Please read through all of my posts on the subject (including Australian Sponsored Work (457) Visas, Step 2: Applying and Australian Sponsored Work (457) Visas, Step 3: Special Cases and Things to Consider) and search the comments to see if your particular question has been answered. Please note that all of this advice is from personal experience and should not be construed as official or professional advice.

If your question has not been answered, please call immigration or search for a migration lawyer in your local area that you can consult with. Please do not contact me. As stated above, I cannot offer professional advice on visa matters and I no longer have the time to answer the daily emails that come through.

Thanks, and good luck with your visa process.

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