The Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) allows skilled workers to come to Australia and work for an approved business for up to four years.
You must be sponsored by an approved business. A business can sponsor someone for this visa if they cannot find an Australian citizen or permanent resident to do the skilled work.
You can be in or outside Australia when you lodge your application.
To apply you must:
- be nominated to work in an approved occupation
- meet the skill requirements for the nominated occupation
- meet registration and licensing obligations
- speak vocational English
- have been nominated by an approved business.
You must work in a skilled occupation that has been approved by the Australian Government. Approved occupations are split into a short term and medium term list.
You need to show that you have the skills and experience necessary to work in the nominated occupation. If your nominated occupation is a trade occupation, you might need to do a skills assessment.
If your nominated occupation is ‘Project and Program Administrator or Specialist Manager not elsewhere classified’, you will need to a skills assessment for migration purposes.
Registration and licensing
If requested by your visa processing case officer, you must provide evidence from the relevant Australian registration or licensing authority that you hold, or will be able to meet, the registration or licensing requirements to work in your nominated occupation.
Your approved sponsor should be able to provide you with the necessary licensing and registration information.
English language proficiency
It is important that you can speak, write and understand a sufficient level of English while you are in Australia. We use the following tests to determine your level of English language proficiency:
- International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
- Occupational English Test (OET)
- Test of English as a Foreign Language internet-based test (TOEFL iBT)
- Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic test
- Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) test (which was conducted on or after 1 January 2015).
If you are sponsored by a party to a labour agreement, you must meet the English language ability specified in the agreement.
Required test scores
Most primary applicants who are sponsored by a standard business sponsor must demonstrate that their level of English proficiency is equivalent to one of the following scores:
- an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) overall test score of at least 5.0 with a score of at least 4.5 in each of the four test components
- an Occupational English Test (OET) score of at least ‘B’ in each of the four components
- a Test of English as a Foreign Language internet-based test (TOEFL iBT) total score of at least 36 with a score of at least 3 for each of the test components of listening and reading, and a score of at least 12 for each of the test components of writing and speaking
- a Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic overall test score of at least 36 with a score of at least 30 in each of the four test components
- a Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) overall test score of at least 154 with a score of at least 147 in each of the four test components.
IELTS – Academic or General
IELTS is a test designed to assess an applicant’s English language ability. It has an academic tests and a general training test. You only need to take the general training test unless advised otherwise by a registration or general licensing body.
English for registration, licensing or membership
A higher level of English might be required for certain occupations where it is a requirement for registration, licensing or membership in Australia. You can find out if your occupation requires a higher level of English by contacting the registration authority for your nominated occupation.
If you are required to hold a licence, registration or membership to perform your nominated occupation then you must have English language proficiency of at least the standard required to be granted that licence, registration or membership.
This can result in the English language requirement being higher than the test scores detailed above, depending on the requirements of the licence, registration or membership.
Exemptions from English language proficiency
If your prospective employer is a standard business sponsor, you must meet the English language requirement for visa grant unless you fall into one of the following categories of exempted persons:
- you are a passport holder from Canada, New Zealand, the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom or the United States of America; or
- you have completed at least five years of full-time study in a secondary or higher education institution where instruction was conducted in English; or
- you are to be paid a salary for the duration of your visa that exceeds the English language requirement exempt amount and the grant of the visa is in the interests of Australia. The current salary level that is English language exempt is outlined in a legislative instrument; or
- you are nominated for an occupation which will be performed at a diplomatic or consular mission of another country or an office of the authorities of Taiwan located in Australia, or
- your occupation requires you to hold a licence, registration or membership and:
- to be granted the licence, registration or membership you must demonstrate a level of English language proficiency that is equivalent to or better than the level described on the previous page (test/scores), and
- you have been granted the licence, registration or membership.
If you are seeking an exemption from the English language requirement on the basis of completion of five years of study at a secondary and/or higher institution where the instruction was in English, you should also provide the following information with your visa application:
- the name and location of the institution/s
- the level of qualification/s
- your official transcript from the secondary and/or tertiary institution
- the number of contact hours of instruction per week delivered in English
- the number of years of study.
You and all family members must meet certain health requirements. The health examinations you need will depend on your personal circumstances, including your period of stay, country of citizenship, time spent in another country during the last five years and your intended activities in Australia. The results of your health examinations are generally valid for 12 months.
To become a sponsor, you must be able to show that your business:
- is a lawfully operating business
- has no relevant adverse information against your business.
Australian businesses must also demonstrate their commitment to employing local labour as well as non-discriminatory recruitment practices.
There are two ways you can become an approved sponsor:
- Option 1: Apply to be a standard business sponsor
- Option 2: Negotiate a labour agreement.
Apply to be a standard business sponsor
The standard business sponsorship arrangement is the most common way to sponsor a skilled worker using the subclass 457 visa program. You must lodge an application to become a standard business sponsor.
You can have only one standard business sponsorship approved at any given time (that is, one sponsorship approval per legal entity) which is usually valid for five years. You can apply to extend your sponsorship at any time during this five-year period by lodging a variation application.
The requirements for approval as a standard business sponsor differ for businesses that are outside and in Australia.
Business in Australia
You must attest, in writing, that you have a strong record of, or a demonstrated commitment to employing local labour. You must also declare that you will not engage in discriminatory recruitment practices.
Make the attestation and the declaration about your workplace record in your sponsorship application form.
You must also meet training requirements. This means you must either:
- meet the training benchmarks if you have traded in Australia for 12 months or more
- have an auditable plan to meet the training benchmarks if you have been trading in Australia for less than 12 months.
Business outside Australia
You must be seeking to employ a skilled worker to either:
- establish, or help establish, a business operation in Australia
- fulfil obligations for a contract in Australia.
If your business does not yet have an operating base in Australia, you are not required to satisfy the training requirement.
Option 2: Negotiate a labour agreement
A labour agreement is a formal arrangement negotiated between an Australian employer and the Australian Government. You might be able to enter into a labour agreement if you are in one of the following situations:
- the occupation of the workers you want to employ is not listed on the Skilled Occupation Lists (Formerly Known as Form 1121i) or the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO)
- you are a recruitment company seeking to sponsor skilled workers to be on-hired to another businesses, and the occupations requested are on the Consolidated Sponsored Occupations List (CSOL)
- standard immigration options are not suitable.
You must be able to provide evidence that:
- there is a genuine and systemic shortage of skilled workers
- there are no suitably qualified Australian workers available
- you have a commitment to training Australians.
A labour agreement comes into effect when it has been signed by all parties involved in the negotiations. A labour agreement is typically valid for three years.
How to propose a labour agreement
You need, among other things, to:
- identify the relevant skills shortage in the business and why these vacancies cannot be filled by Australian workers (you need to show you have tried to recruit in Australia)
- specify the number of skilled workers needed from outside Australia
- specify the skill and English language requirements that relate to the nominated occupations. Semi-skilled occupations can be considered provided they are specialised and in demand
- include copies of correspondence showing that relevant stakeholders have been consulted.
You might be able to use a template labour agreement if there is one for your industry or your worker’s occupation. A template labour agreement is a set of standard parameters for similar employers: it does not guarantee an agreement will be approved.
If the template does not suit your needs, you might be able to negotiate an individual agreement.
Labour agreements include a requirement to provide training to Australian employees.
When you have a labour agreement in place, you are an approved sponsor for the term of operation of the agreement. You can then nominate skilled workers from outside Australia under the terms of the labour agreement.
You will also need to meet your sponsorship obligations and any other terms and conditions specified in the agreement. If you breach the terms and conditions of your agreement, we could suspend or terminate it.
To sponsor a worker as a standard business sponsor, you must:
- be a lawfully operating business
- have no relevant adverse information against your business.
If your business is in Australia, you must also:
- meet training requirements
- demonstrate your commitment to employing local labour
- not engage in discriminatory recruitment practices.
A lawfully operating business
You must be a lawfully operating business to apply to be a standard business sponsor. This applies to businesses both in and outside Australia.
To demonstrate this you must show both of the following:
- your business is legally established
- your business is actually operating.
A business that exists only on paper cannot satisfy this sponsorship requirement.
If you do not operate in Australia, you must be able to show that you need a skilled worker to:
- come to Australia to establish, or help establish, a business operation with connections with a business located outside Australia
- fulfil, or help in fulfil, a contractual obligation.
If your business is new, you can still satisfy this requirement if you can provide evidence that your business is in fact operating, even if this has been for only a short period of time.
You must show that you have contributed to the training of Australian workers by providing evidence of meeting the training benchmarks. These benchmarks were introduced to ensure that the employment of workers from outside Australia is not seen as an alternative to training Australian workers.
To be approved as a standard business sponsor, you must either:
- meet the training benchmarks if you have traded in Australia for 12 months or more
- have an auditable plan to meet the training benchmarks if you have been trading in Australia for less than 12 months.
If you negotiate a labour agreement, your business will have to meet a similar training requirement as part of the agreement.
If your business has been trading in Australia for more than 12 months, you must show you have contributed to the training of Australians.
You show this by meeting one of two benchmarks. This can be either:
- Training benchmark A: recent expenditure to the equivalent of at least two per cent of the payroll of the business, in payments allocated to an industry training fund that operates in the same industry as the business
- Training benchmark B: recent expenditure to the equivalent of at least one per cent of the payroll of the business, in the provision of training to employees of the business who are Australian citizens or Australian permanent residents.
You must provide evidence of expenditure relating to the training benchmarks when you submit your sponsorship application. Not providing evidence can cause a significant delay in processing your application.
Businesses that do not yet have an operating base in Australia do not need to meet the training benchmarks.
Payroll is the amount of money an employer pays in wages to their employees in the 12 months immediately before you lodge your application for sponsorship.
Payroll expenditure includes any:
- superannuation contributions (mandatory or otherwise)
- eligible termination payments that are defined as wages in the Act relating to payroll tax in the relevant state or territory.
Payments to contractors or sub-contractors count as payroll if the contractor provides some labour services in fulfilling the requirements of the contract. For example, if your contractor is a bricklayer or a carpenter, any payments you make to them should be included as payroll expenditure.
For expenditure to qualify as recent, it must have occurred in the 12 months immediately before you lodge your application. This applies to both benchmarks.
If you include payments to contractors in your payroll expenditure, you can also count any eligible training expenditure on them towards the benchmarks.
Industry training funds
Industry training funds are statutory authorities responsible for providing funding for training of eligible workers in certain industries, such as construction and mining.
You should contribute to a fund that operates in the same industry as your business. If your industry does not have an eligible training fund, you can contribute to:
- a recognised industry body that provides training opportunities for its members, provided they reserve the funds contributed for training
- a recognised scholarship fund at a university or TAFE college that supports education or training for Australians in the same or a similar industry as your business.
Examples of ways to meet the training benchmarks
You can show you meet the training benchmarks in relation to your Australian employees by:
- paying for a formal course of study for your Australian employees
- funding a scholarship in a formal course of study approved under the Australian Qualifications Framework for your Australian employees
- employing apprentices, trainees or recent graduates on an ongoing basis in numbers proportionate to the size of the business
- employing a person who trains your Australian employees
- paying external providers to deliver training for Australian employees
- providing on-the-job training that is structured with a timeframe and clearly identified increase in the skills at each stage, and demonstrating all of the following:
- the learning outcomes of the employee at each stage
- how the progress of the Australian employee will be monitored and assessed
- how the program will provide additional and enhanced skills
- the use of qualified trainers to develop the program and set assessments
- the number of people participating and their skill and occupation.
Expenditure that cannot count towards this benchmark includes expenditure for training that is:
- delivered on the job, other than on-the-job training that meets the requirements outlined above
- confined to only one or a few aspects of the businesses broader operations, unless the training is in the primary business activity
- only done by people who are not Australian citizens or permanent residents
- only done by people who are principals in the business or their family members
- only relating to a very low skill level having regard to the characteristic and size of the business
- wages paid to staff for the time they spend at training.
Expenditure on apprentices and trainees
Apprenticeships and traineeships are training positions. You can count 100 per cent of the salary provided to an apprentice or trainee towards training benchmark B if:
- they are employed under a formal agreement (known as a training contract)
- the training contract has been lodged with the relevant state or territory government authority.
- If you employ an apprentice through a Group Training Organisation you cannot include any commission paid to third parties but you can still include 100 per cent of their salary.
Expenditure on graduates who are part of a formal training program
One hundred per cent of a graduate’s salary can be counted towards training benchmark B if the graduate’s position is part of a formal, structured graduate program of up to two years, or if it is part of a professional year following their graduation. The occupation in which the graduate is working must be relevant or related to the subject of their recently completed qualification.
Expenditure on graduates who are not part of a formal training program
Graduate positions that are not part of a formal, structured graduate program are considered differently because they are already fully qualified for their positions and they can already perform all their duties:
- you can count only the expenditure that is for the formal training aspects of the graduate position towards training benchmark B
- you cannot count the total salary of these graduates because graduate positions are not, in themselves, considered to be wholly training positions.
A recent graduate is someone who has completed their higher education studies within the 24 months before you lodge your application to become a standard business sponsor.
Training provided by a franchise head office for franchisees
Training provided to employees of franchisees can be counted towards training benchmark B if you:
- submit quantifiable evidence of structured training provided to your employees (for example, session plans, learning objectives)
- make a commitment to continue to provide training to your employees
- quantify the actual expenditure on training.
If the franchise head office provides the training, you must provide documents that show exactly what percentage of the franchise fee is attributed to training. An estimate of the training component will not be accepted; neither will the entire franchise fee.
An auditable plan must clearly identify how the applicant intends to meet one of the training benchmarks. An auditable plan must:
- relate to the immediate future (within the next 12 months)
- clearly articulate the forecast payroll for the next 12 months
- show the intended expenditure towards training benchmark A or training benchmark B
- show a clear intent to implement the plan.
An auditable plan to meet training benchmark B must clearly articulate the type and duration of training, and the estimated cost of delivering the training.
Agree to the number of subclass 457 workers to be nominated
In your sponsorship application, you must tell us the number of people that the business proposes to nominate during the period of approval as a sponsor. You will need to justify why you are proposing that number. The visa processing officer could use the information in your application to propose an alternative number of people to you. You must agree in writing to a number for the sponsorship agreement to be approved.