10 Useful Things to Know About Your Australian 457 Visa
Knowing the below information about your 457 visa can really help you protect your rights as an employee and ensure that your sponsoring employer complies with its obligations. You will also find useful information in relation to what happens when you need to change employer, and when you may be able to apply for Australian permanent residency.
1) Your employer’s obligation to pay you the Australian market rate
In the nomination application for your 457 visa, your employer needs to state what your guaranteed annual salary will be, as well as provide evidence of what the Australian market salary rate is for your role (generally by providing market salary survey data, or by providing the contract/payslip of an Australian citizen or permanent resident that is working for your employer. He or she needs to be working in the same role and location as your nominated role). Your employer needs to pay you at least the Australian market rate for your role. This ensures that you are not underpaid, and employers don’t just hire foreign employees because their salary demands are less than the Australian market rate.
2) Your employer needs to continue to pay you the Australian market rate
Your sponsoring employer is obligated to comply with the obligation outlined above for the duration of the time that you hold your 457 visa. Your employer is required to periodically review your salary and increase it as the Australian market rate for your role increases.
3) You can only work for your sponsoring employer and in your nominated role
Pretty self explanatory. You can only work for the employer that is currently sponsoring you for your 457 visa. Also, you can only work in the role that DIAC has approved in the nomination application.
4) Hold appropriate health insurance coverage
You must show proof of adequate health insurance when applying for your 457 visa. An applicant must arrange for health insurance and show proof of cover when they lodge their 457 visa application. If any dependent family members are included in the application, then adequate health insurance coverage is also required for these individuals.
There are exceptions available for Irish passport holders and if you hold a passport from a country that has a reciprocal health care agreement with Australia – United Kingdom, Sweden, Finland, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Slovenia, Malta and Italy.
A comparison site that lists all the policies can be viewed at www.457visacompared.com.au.
IMAN Health Funds offers a wide range of competitively priced health insurance policies that are appropriate for 457 visa applicants (as well as other foreign nationals who need to maintain health insurance coverage while in Australia): www.austhealth.com
5) If you’re changing your role
If you’re employer wants you to take on some extra or more senior responsibilities due to your development in your role, you can generally take on these tasks without notifying DIAC. This is the case as long as the majority of your tasks and duties still fall within the ANZSCO that DIAC approved in the nomination application. For instance, if your approved ANZSCO occupation is Civil Engineer (233211), you can check the tasks listed for this ANZSCO and decide whether your role still fits within this ANZSCO after the changes to your duties. If the changes are such that you no longer fit into your approved ANZSCO, then your employer will need to lodge a new nomination application and DIAC will need to approve this application before you can start working in your new role. Your approved ANZSCO can be found in your 457 visa approval notification.
6) If you want to change employers / Taking a second job
Firstly, you need to ensure that your prospective employer is eligible to sponsor you for a 457 visa. This generally means that they need to hold Standard Business Sponsorship and that this sponsorship is valid (or that they are eligible and willing to apply for this). Your prospective employer will need to lodge a 457 nomination application and have this approved before you can start employment with them.
Due to Condition 8107, you can’t take up a second job – period (i.e. you can’t take up a second job even if this job is similar to your nominated role, or if it is a casual position that doesn’t interfere with your work with your 457 visa sponsor).
7) Changing employers and completing current employment obligations
As I stated in point 3 above, you can only work for your sponsoring employer and in your approved role. The exception to this is when you’re changing your employer and 457 visa sponsor. Even after the 457 nomination application for your new employer has been approved and your sponsorship has changed to this new employer, you can continue to work for your former employer and sponsor to ‘fulfil a requirement to give notice of termination of employment’. Basically, you’re allowed to fulfil the terms of your employment contract.
8) If you end your employment with your sponsor
Your 457 visa is subject to condition 8107 – this condition requires you to remain employed in your nominated role with your sponsor. If your sponsor terminates your employment, then they are obligated to notify DIAC.
If more than 90 days has passed since your last date of employment, then you are considered to be in breach of condition 8107 and DIAC may issue you with a issued with a Notice of Intention to Consider Cancellation. If you intend to lodge another visa application, then you can discuss this matter with DIAC and see if they can give you a little extra time to prepare and finalise the application (evidence supporting your claim that you will be lodging a genuine application may help you case).
If your employer notifies DIAC of your cessation and you’re outside of Australia, then DIAC can cancel your 457 visa without notifying you.
9) Covering the cost of your flight to leave Australia
Once you have ceased employment, you can make a written request to your employer and request that they cover the reasonable cost of your departure. Your employer is obligated to cover this cost if it receives such a request.
10) Applying for permanent residency with employer sponsorship
Holding a 457 visa can open up various pathways for obtaining Australian permanent residency. If your 457 visa sponsor is willing to sponsor you for permanent residency, then you may be able to apply for either a 186 or 187 visa. The most straight forward pathway to permanent residency for 457 visa holders is generally to complete two years of employment with your 457 visa sponsor and then apply under the Temporary Residence Transition stream. This stream is available under both the 186 and 187 visas.
To apply under the Temporary Residence Transition stream, you need to complete two years of employment with the employer that sponsored you for your 457 visa as the primary 457 visa holder (dependent 457 visa holders cannot apply under the Temporary Residence Transition stream). Employment with a different 457 visa sponsor can’t be counted towards the two years. Employment while holding any other visa also doesn’t count.
However, you may be able to apply for permanent residency under the Direct Entry stream, in which case, you do not need to complete two years of employment as a 457 visa holder.
For the 186 visa Direct Entry stream, generally speaking, you need to apply for and obtain a positive skills assessment for your nominated occupation from the relevant skills assessment body. If your guaranteed annual salary is $180,001 or over, then you are exempted from having to obtain a skills assessment, and you may be able to proceed with an application under the Direct Entry stream now.
For the 187 visa Direct Entry stream, generally speaking, you only need a positive skills assessment if your nominated occupation is a ‘trade’ occupation (e.g. plumber, cook, electrician etc.). For professional occupations (e.g. accountant, engineer, nurse, teacher, management level roles etc.), you do not need to obtain a skills assessment. Generally speaking, you need to have either a Bachelor degree or higher level qualification that is relevant to your nominated occupation or alternatively, you need five years of full-time experience in positions that are similar to your nominated role. Like with the 186 visa, you are also exempted from needing a skills assessment if your guaranteed annual salary is $180,001 or over.
Alternative pathways to permanent residency
Many 457 visa holders transition to permanent residency through the sponsorship of their employer. However, you may be able to apply for permanent residency without the sponsorship of your employer. You may now eligible for a Subclass 189 or 190 visa.
The 189 visa is called the Skilled Independent visa. It is an invitation and points-based visa. Before you can apply for this visa, you need to firstly prepare and submit an Expression of Interest. In the ‘EOI’, you provide your personal details, employment history, qualifications etc. You are entitled to points based on various factors such age, experience and qualifications etc. DIAC will invite the applicants with the highest points to apply (the minimum points required for an invitation is 60). You must receive an invitation from DIAC before you can apply. Also, only the occupations listed on the Skill Occupation List can be used for a 189 visa application.
The 190 visa is similar to the 189 visa. The main difference is that you firstly need to obtain Australian state or territory government sponsorship before you can apply for this visa. Why obtain such sponsorship? Firstly, it is worth 5 points. Also, each state or territory has its own list of sponsorable occupations – consequently, there are a lot of occupations which are sponsorable under the 190 visa, which are not sponsorable under the 189 visa.
A great advantage of obtaining one of the above mentioned visas is that you are not obligated or tied to any one employer. If you obtain permanent residency through employer sponsorship, then you will need to make the commitment that you will work for your sponsor in your nominated role for 2 years from the date of visa approval.
There is no such obligation imposed on 189 and 190 visa holders. You are free to change your employer as you please. For the 190 state or territory government sponsored visa, you need to make the commitment to work in your sponsoring state or territory for at least 2 years from when the visa is approved. But you are not committed to any one employer.
In fact, you do not even need to work in your skilled profession. You can start your own business, make a career change, progress to a more senior role in management etc.
For Subclass 189 visa holders, you do not really even need to remain in Australia since you do not have any obligations to an employer, or state or territory governments. You can obtain this permanent residency visa and secure your future in Australia, or just give yourself the option of living and working in Australia. Your family members can come to Australia and establish a living for themselves while you remain overseas.
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