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What is a 457 visa?

A 457 visa allows an Australian business to employ someone from outside Australia to work in a skilled job where there are local skill shortages. There is no cap on the number of 457 visas that can be granted.

What can a 457 visa holder do with this visa?

The visa holder can bring their family to Australia, they can work for up to four years and are free to travel in and out of Australia during that period. If they cease employment, the visa holder must either obtain approved employment with another employer who is an approved sponsor or depart Australia within 28 days.

How many 457s are in Australia?

As of 31 April 2013, there were 108,810 primary 457 visa holders in Australia. This is up by 20.4 per cent on the same time last year.

What are the main occupations that 457s are used for?

The top three occupations in 2012/13 to date are cooks, program administrators and café managers.

Will fines be increased under the 457 program?

Existing fines in place range from $1020 to more than $50,000 and will remain unchanged. The legislation provides for greater enforcement of the existing sanctions, and extends powers to monitor compliance of the scheme.

How has the scheme changed over the past decade?

The scheme has changed in a number of ways in recent years:

  • The number of visas granted has increased dramatically:

                        2003-4 = 5,670

                        2006-7 = 87,310

                        2012-13 = 126,000

  • The occupations most used in the scheme has changed from highly skilled positions such as university academics, medical practitioners and engineers to much lower skilled occupations such as cooks, retail workers and marketing specialists.
  • The locations where the visas are used have changed from regional and remote areas to large numbers in population centres such as Melbourne and Sydney.
  • The number of people applying for the visas onshore has increased dramatically.

What countries do 457 visa holders come from?

The top 10 countries are India, UK, Ireland, Philippines, USA, China, Canada, France, South Korea and Germany

Why is there concern about the scheme?

  • The growth in low skilled industries and occupations suggest that the scheme is being used by employers as a general source of labour rather than being used to fill specific skill shortages.
  • The Department briefed the Government from late 2011 and throughout 2012 that there were problems with their ability to prosecute employers who were clearly flouting the rules.
  • A survey of 457 sponsor employers from 2011 (results published in May 2013 by the Migration Council of Australia) shows that 15 per cent of employers have no trouble finding labour locally but continue to use the 457 visa scheme.
  • There is a pattern in nominations and job vacancy advertisements in the past twelve months for the most common occupations for 457 visas:

Café managers: visa nominations are up 189% ads down 3%

Cooks: visa nominations up 102% ads down 25%

Chefs: visa nominations up 33% ads down 6%

Call centre managers: visa nominations up 226% ads down 14%

How is Labor changing the 457 system?

  • Labor is tightening the rules to make it harder for employers to use the scheme, unless they are filling genuine skill shortages.
  • Labor is expanding the number of inspectors who will ensure that employers do the right thing.
  • Labor is requiring employers to show that they have tried to find workers from their local area, before using 457 visas.

457 SUMMARY REPORT APRIL 2013 – Primary Applications Lodged

Nominated Position Location

2011-12 to 30/04/12

2012-13 to 30 /04/13

% Change from 2011-12

2012-13 as % of Total

Australian Capital Territory





New South Wales

18 580

21 260



Northern Territory






9 480

9 820



South Australia

1 520

1 820









11 680

13 010



Western Australia

13 870

12 990



Not Recorded






57 560

61 480



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