*** As of April 2017, the 457 visa has been suspended and will be replaced in 2018 with two new temporary visas – find out more here.
457 visas are a popular way for people to migrate to Australia without having to worry about finding a job when you arrive or having to save up enough money to cover you relocation and set up costs. However, along with great rewards, there come great risks. Please note this is not to be considered migration advice – for all the ins and outs of a 457 visa, please speak to a registered migration agent or the company who is offering you a 457 visa.
Here are 10 things you need to know about 457 visas.
1. You can only work for an approved employer and in that specific role.
You won’t be able to move company or even change role within the company. You are sponsored for that exact job and that job only.
2. Your partners and dependents can be included on your visa.
If you are going to be sponsored on a 457 visa, your partner and dependents can be included on your application as secondary visa applicants. They, unlike the main visa applicant, will have full working rights in Australia so they are able to work without visa restrictions.
3. The employer will cover your relocation costs.
As part of the sponsorship, the employer will normally pay for your reasonable relocation costs. This can include flights, shipping and temporary accommodation upon arrival. Note that it is extremely unusual for employers to cover the cost of the visa itself so you will more than likely be required to pay for your visa fees.
4. You need to put in place appropriate health cover.
As 457 visa holder, you need to ensure you have private medical cover (unless you are coming from a country with a reciprocal health agreement – South Africa is not one of them). You can get a quote from most of the health funds online or through comparison sites. Some of the private health funds include BUPA, Medibank, HBF, HIF, NIB, HCF and AHM. Find out more about private health cover requirements here.
5. You may be liable for an extra payment for school fees.
This is currently in place in some states but not all – so definitely check if this applies in the state you are heading to. There are also proposed changes to this payment for families on 457 visas, affecting both new 457 visa holders as well as existing. As of July 2016, in some states including WA, families are liable for a fee of $4,000 per family (not per child) attending school. This is for children attending public (government) schools. It is a payment that goes straight to the government, it is not in anyway related to school fees, you’ll still have to pay these on top.
There are talks of it changing to per child and the cost going up as of 2017/18, so please double check the latest news around this before you decide to take up a 457 job offer. And if you do take up the offer, make sure you will be able to afford this payment should it come into effect in the future.
6. Your employer may end your contract.
Just because they want to sponsor you now, does not mean they will continue to sponsor you for the entire 4 year period your visa is valid for. I have heard about people who have been sponsored, moved over and after just 3 months have been let go. Australian companies will often follow the LIFO principle – last in first out.
7. If your employment ends, you need to find a new sponsor in 90 days.*
If your employment unfortunately comes to an end, you currently have 90 days to find a new sponsor to take over your visa otherwise you will be sent back to your home country. This is vastly better than what it was – it used to be 28 days! This can be highly stressful especially if you aren’t eligible to apply for a permanent visa yet, or simply don’t have the funds. *As of November 2016, all new 457 visas granted now have 60 days not 90 days to find a new sponsor. This change does not affect visas issues prior to this change.
8. If you can’t find a new sponsor, your previous employer must pay for your flights home.
As it says, if you lose your job, you can apply in writing to your employer for them to cover the costs of relocating back to your home country. This should at least include flights to the value of $10,000 and could also include shipping, but this would be at the discretion of the company and they are not liable to do so.
9. You have equal working rights in Australia under Fair Work laws.
Some people believe that 457 workers are hired so that they can be paid less than Australian workers. This is not true as all 457 workers have equal working rights. In fact, employers are obliged to pay their 457 workers according to the temporary migration skilled income threshold, so there is no way they can get away with paying a lesser wage. They are also obliged to review your pay at least annually in line with current Australian market rates.
10. After 4 years, you can apply for a new 457 visa or permanent residency.
Applying for PR is usually a recommended route to take as soon as you become eligible to do so (this may be at different times depending o your circumstances). It’s worth putting some money aside from the moment you start earning, in order to ensure you can afford a PR application once you become eligible. The fees are currently quite costly and highly unlikely to get any cheaper so having the cash ready to go will help you become a permanent resident and eventually a citizen (if that’s what you want!).
457 visas can be a great way to get into Australia quickly and at a lower cost to you. However, they do come with a host of risks and costs which you need to seriously evaluate before accepting a 457 job offer.
Migration agents are reporting that they are seeing less and less 457 applications coming through and as the cost of 457 visas are not much different to PR visas these days. Along with the school fees and health insurance requirements for 457 visas, PR visas can work out to be a cheaper option overall.
Please remember to check all the latest information with a reputable migration agent as this blog is not meant as official migration advice and the rules can change over time.
If you want more information about other visa types you could pursue, read my blog about 4 popular ways to move to Australia. If you want more advice about moving to Australia, read my blog 8 Awesome Places To Get Advice About Moving To Australia.