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Australian Sponsored Work (457) Visas, Step 2: Applying

This post is about obtaining sponsored working visas for Australia. The other posts in this series are Australian Sponsored Work Visas: A Primer, and Step 3: Special Cases and Things to Consider.

Paper Weaving

And now, the paperwork begins.

Now that you’ve prepared all the relevant documentation and found a potential sponsor, you are ready to start the process of applying for a sponsored work visa. Now is when the real paperwork fun begins. Here are the steps you need to go through to apply for a first-time onshore visa (please see Step 3: Special Cases and Things to Consider if you are currently offshore or applying for a second sponsored visa).

  1. Your potential employer fills out the sponsorship application. This is a bit confusing, because it actually has very little to do with you. Before the employer is allowed to sponsor you personally, they have to apply for the right to sponsor people at all.  as long as they are able to pony up all of their financial information and explain how they are employing and training Australians as well as foreigners, they should get through this stage.
    • This is valid for three years, so if they have sponsored someone in the last three years, they can skip this step. It’s ok if your employer has never done this before (mine hadn’t).
    • This, like the rest of the application, can be lodged online at www.immi.gov/e_visa. Your employer will have to make sure they have scanned copies of all documents to apply online.
    • If your employer prefers the paper route, they can fill out Form 1196S.
    • The documents they will be required to produce with this form are described in detail in the Sponsorship Checklist.
    • The application fee is currently $405 and can be paid by credit card.
  1. The employer fills out your nomination. This can actually be done in conjunction with step 3 because the employer can send in both applications at once (just as long as they do not send the nomination in prior to the sponsorship). This is where the employer provides information about you and your suitability for the role you have been offered. They will need basic information about you, such as your passport details and where you live, as well as qualifications that should be available on your resume.
    • The ANZSCO code asked for on the first page of the application requires your employer to go to a list of occupations and categorise exactly what you are doing. For instance, I am categorised as a software engineer. You should pay special attention to this and make sure that you agree with how your job has been categorised. I did not pay attention to this between my first and second work visas and then found out that my first work visa would only count towards the requirements for permanent residency (two years on a 457 visa) if I had the same ANZSCO code on both visas…which of course, I did not. This meant I had to wait an extra 7 months to become eligible for PR.
    • Salary – This has changed markedly since I applied for my first visa. There used to be two hard minimums — one for all workers, and one for those in IT. Now, your employer still has to meet an absolute minimum salary of $49,330 and also meet the market salary rate, which seems to just mean “this employee will get paid at least as much as a normal Australian employee in the same role.”
    • Secondary applicants – Because your employer has to agree that their sponsorship obligations extend to any “secondary applicants” (spouse or children), they will need basic information about anyone applying with you.
    • If your employer prefers the paper route, they can fill out Form 1196N.
    • The documents they will be required to produce with this form are described in detail in the Nomination Checklist.
    • The application fee is currently $80.
  1. Apply for health insurance. I bet you didn’t think this was the next logical step, did you? Well, it is because visa condition 8501 (which is applied to all sponsored visas) requires you to have an “adequate level” of health cover for your entire stay in Australia. This changed between my second and third 457 visas and caused me quite a headache because my health cover didn’t quite qualify under the government’s standards and my provider didn’t offer any covers that did.
    • Some overseas health covers can be used if they meet the minimum requirements laid out in Attachment A in the health insurance template letter.
    • There are plenty of companies in Australia that offer this cover, including Bupa, Medibank, and HBF. I recommend starting with a Google search and comparing the prices on everyone’s plans.
    • Your application will not be approved until you can produce a letter similar to the template stating that your insurance meets all of the government’s requirements. If your cover is from an Australian company, you won’t have to provide the template and they should provide a letter within a few days of your request.
    • If you are from one of the countries that has a reciprocal health care agreement with Australia (like the UK), you may qualify for Medicare and get around this requirement altogether. However, to apply for Medicare and provide proof of your card, you have to be in Australia. If you’re applying from outside Australia, you will have to arrange private insurance to cover you until you arrive and can apply for Medicare.
    • Note: If you cancel this cover at any time while you are still holding this visa, your health care provider is obligated to inform the government, which could lead to your visa being cancelled.
  1. Make an appointment for a visa medical (if required). This won’t apply for many 457 applicants (including those from the US, UK, and Canada unless they have spent 3 months in a medium- or high-risk TB country), but you can verify if you fall into this group on Form 1163i. If this does apply to you, you can find your local visa medical location and apply for your appointment online.
    • Your application will not be denied if you believe you do not need a medical but immigration believes otherwise. Instead, they will contact you and ask you to provide your results once you have had one.
  1. Check whether you will need a skills assessment. More information can be found at Trades Recognition Australia.
  2. Within 6 months of the nomination being lodged, you fill out the nominee application (preferably online). This is where all of the documents you gathered previously come in handy. The form itself (of which the offline version is Form 1066) is fairly straightforward and mainly asks about basic details of you and any secondary applicants. This includes:
    • Basic data, including permanent residential address
    • Whether you have any long-term medical disorders that will require treatment
    • The usual character questions relating to previous arrests, etc
    • Details of your employer, including their nomination request identifier (if the nomination has been lodged but not yet approved) or the approval number
    • Resume details
    • Proof of proficiency in the English language (if your first language is not English)
      • This could require you to take the IELTS test prior to sending in your application.

If you do not lodge online, you will need to send this in to your closest Centre of Excellence. The standard immigration office will not take your application because, in the words of someone behind the counter in the Brisbane office, “Oh, that’s another office. We’ll lose it if we try to send it through inter-departmental mail.” At least they’re honest.

You can attach all of your supporting documentation at the end of the application. Don’t worry if you’ve got a dodgy internet connection and it drops out while you’re trying to do this — mine dropped out and I lost access to my application (causing me to somewhat freak out), but I called up immigration and they let me lodge them by emailing the Sydney 457 processing address.

  1. Pay. This visa currently costs $350.

Now, you can sit back and enjoy not having to fill out any paperwork for a while…and then continue on to Step 3 to get more detail on what will happen while you are waiting.

Paperwork photo by Joel Tanner on Flickr.

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: A Primer 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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