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Phew! You’re finally done with your application; now you just have to be patient and wait for your visa decision. Chances are, you want to put a sledgehammer through your computer from all the paperwork and waiting…but I really wouldn’t recommend it (unless the computer is already completely unsalvageable like the one above).
This page should give a rough indication of how long you will have to wait. While you’re waiting, you can check the status of your application on the eVisa page. I wouldn’t expect many updates though; for me, it seemed like the page only changed once they were about to grant the visa.
If your current visa expires while you are waiting for the decision, you are granted a Bridging Visa A, which allows you to stay in the country on the same visa restrictions as your previous visa (so, if your previous visa was a tourist visa, you are not allowed to work).
The decision can take varying amounts of time, but if you do not have the right to work, your employer should be ready to accept that you might not be able to start right away. For reference, my three visa applications took 3 months, 2 days, and 2 weeks to process, respectively.
It’s important to note that if you want to leave the country while you are on a Bridging Visa A, you need to apply for a Bridging Visa B, as your Bridging Visa A will cease as soon as you leave Australia. This visa costs $125 and can often be issued on the same day as your application.
If your previous visa is still valid, you can leave the country and re-enter (provided it doesn’t expire while you’re away). However, this is a bit of a confusing area that many people in immigration disagreed on, so I would call immigration and get it put on your record that you were told this before you go. In addition, since your visa is an onshore visa (because you applied within Australia), you have to be on Australian shores when it is granted, so immigration needs to know not to issue the visa while you are away.
In addition, if anything happens to your passport while your visa is being processed (it gets lost and needs to be replaced, it expires, etc), you will need to inform immigration as soon as possible because your previous passport details will be invalid and could result in a denied application.
If you already hold a 457 visa but you want to change employers, you no longer have to go through the entire application process again. Your employer will still have to apply to be a sponsor and nominate you, but you will only have to apply for a visa when the previous visa is about to expire. In addition, you have to make sure that it’s no more than 28 days between the day you or your employer gave notice that employment would end and starting your new job, otherwise your original 457 visa will be cancelled.
Applicants that are outside Australia go through roughly the same visa process; however, there are three major differences.
As I mentioned above, on the 1st of July it will become more difficult to apply for most working visas because of the new SkillSelect program. To me, this is just an extra, unnecessary bureaucratic step in the visa process, but the immigration department claims that SkillSelect will “ensure the skilled migration program is based on the economic needs of Australia.”
SkillSelect means that you will have to write an expression of intent about why you want to work in Australia and lodge it with the immigration office…unless you are applying for an employer-sponsored visa. This means that SkillSelect will not adversely affect 457 applicants like it will those that are applying for general skilled migration. Instead, it means that you can write an expression of interest and leave it in the system for up to two years — and employers can find you and start the hiring process from their end! While this doesn’t guarantee you an offer, it certainly helps to get your name out there as much as possible!
If you stay on this visa for 2 years (either with the same employer or in the same occupation) and your employer is willing, you are allowed to apply for sponsored permanent residency, which will make all this bureaucratic pain worth it!
Even with all that, this is not an absolutely comprehensive guide to the sponsored working visa, but hopefully I have clarified some things that may have otherwise been as clear as mud. If you need more information, please don’t hesitate to check out the official immigration 457 visa page, immigration booklet 9 and details on the labour agreement visa (which I haven’t covered here).
UPDATE (26 April, 2016): After 3.5 years of answering questions regarding issues around applications for 457 visas, I have closed comments on all of my 457 posts. I feel like my initial post plus my 200+ responses to questions on my Now That You Have Your Australian 457 Visa post 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: A Primer and Australian Sponsored Work (457) Visas, Step 2: Applying) 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.