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After seven years, a student visa, a ‘special programs’ visa, three temporary work visas, and a permanent residency visa, I’ve learned a lot about Australian immigration. I’ve previously shared everything you need to know to apply for the 457 temporary work visa, but it doesn’t end there. Even once you are granted your 457 visa and you’re allowed to stay in Australia for the next 2-4 years (depending on the individual visa), there are a few things you need to know if you don’t want to run into problems with immigration.
Most importantly, you have to continue working for the employer that sponsored you. Besides the fact that it would be bad form to get your employer to go through all of that paperwork only to abandon them, the Australian government has strict controls to ensure this doesn’t happen. As soon as you leave your job, your employer is required to notify the Australian government. Once they have been notified, you have 28 days to either find another job or leave the country permanently.
28 days is not a long time in which to find a potential employer and go through the entire interview process, but fortunately, once you find this employer, you can transfer the visa across to them (provided they are willing to take on the responsibilities that come with sponsorship, which includes things like paying for a search if you disappear/become an illegal immigrant). To do this transfer, the employer will need to fill in a nomination form on your behalf.
When changing employers, you should make sure that your nomination is approved before you begin work. If you jump the gun, you risk having your visa completely cancelled. In addition, applying for an employer change does not extend your visa, so your potential employer needs to know that they will likely have to go through the process again.
Speaking of work restrictions, you cannot work for any other employers while you are on a 457 visa, even if it is a second job. You can do volunteer work, but if you get paid and the immigration department finds out, your visa is at risk.
Work and taxes are two things that unfortunately go together. The good thing is that Australian taxes are fairly straightforward, but there are a few things you need to know that will save you a lot of money in the long run:
As an Australian worker, you are entitled to superannuation — essentially, a forced retirement fund. Your employer is required to put at least 9% extra on top of each paycheck into this account, which is an investment account that you’re not allowed to touch until retirement age. However, if you work in Australia for a few years and then return home, you are eligible to claim your superannuation back (so make sure you know all of your account details before you leave!).
The other major requirement on the visa relates to health insurance and is a reasonably new addition to the sponsored work visa. Prior to the 14th of September 2009, employers were required to pay certain medical costs for their sponsored employees — mainly emergency expenses. For visas granted after this date, the responsibility instead falls to the employee to ensure they have valid health insurance.
Unfortunately, this insurance is quite expensive. It you take into account the fact that you don’t have to pay the Medicare levy, it’s actually only slightly more than having Medicare + private health insurance…but this still doesn’t dull the pain of having to pay around $200 a month for health care you may or may not use. It may be tempting to get rid of this expense once you’ve successfully applied for your visa, but the health insurance company will notify the government as soon as your policy becomes non-457-compliant. So don’t get rid of it! Plus, it could be handy if you bust your knee and have to have surgery two weeks later like I did a few years ago.
Lastly, it is no longer a requirement that you have a visa label added to your passport. Even though they take up an entire page in my passport, I’ve continued getting them — even for my permanent visa. This is because, while border control can see my visa on their computers, airlines can’t. Nearly all airlines will ask for proof of your right to stay in the country at checkin — especially because I have no ticket out of Australia — and being able to turn to a page in my passport is infinitely easier than trying to dig up a piece of paper.
This is by no means a comprehensive list, but I hope it helps to smooth your transition into living in Australia and that it answers a few questions that immigration hides deep in the bowels of their website. Good luck, and you won’t regret it — Australia’s a great country to live in.