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My 457 visa employer is making me redundant. What can I do?

Losing your job whilst on a 457 visa is a major blow. Here are your options.

15 November 2015. Dessie Hristova

I often get distressed phone calls from subclass 457 visa holders who have been living and working in Australia and were told by their sponsoring employer that their services will no longer be required.  Although the subclass 457 visa is a temporary visa for a period of up to four years, the move to Australia involves a rather significant process of re-settlement in a new country. Therefore, it is important for the sponsored subclass 457 visa holders to know that they have options in these circumstances.


The primary holder of a 457 visa who is employed with the sponsoring Australian business has a restriction – known as condition 8107 – imposed on it which prevents this employee working for anyone else.  However, should the employee lose their job, condition 8107 allows an overseas employee a grace period of 90 days to either find a new employer in Australia or organise their affairs and return to their country of origin. It is important that the decision as to whether they want to stay in Australia or leave be made quickly as while they are still employed by the original sponsoring Australian business they can request in writing from their sponsoring employer payment for one way airfares for themselves and their family.


But I want to stay


If returning home is not your preference you have the option of seeking employment with another employer to effectively “take over” your subclass 457 visa. The “take over” entails that the new employer has already been approved or would like to apply for an approval as a standard business sponsor and is prepared to lodge a business nomination to nominate you for a role within their team. As soon as the new employer has a sponsorship and nomination approval by the Department of Immigration you can commence your employment and remain with the new sponsor until the expiry date of your subclass 457 visa.


Of course, finding a new employer is easier said that done. You will no doubt search in the usual places: online job sites and in the employment section of metropolitan newspapers.  But bear in mind that the 'hidden' job market – positions that aren't advertised – is often estimated to represent 70% of all job vacancies in Australia.


Look to leverage the knowledge you've gained about your profession in Australia since you started working here. Who are other major employers in your industry? Who is the peak industry group? Don't be afraid to approach them speculatively. You may not have the luxury to be timid. And fortune really does favour the brave. Good employers tend to be interested in anyone with contemporary experience.


Use your business network: erstwhile colleagues, customers and suppliers. Do they know about roles or can they pass your CV on to others? Tell your friends you are looking for a new job, brief them on what you have to offer, so they can tell their network. Australia may be a big country but even our biggest cities are small towns - you usually know someone who knows someone who could offer you a job.


One warning: beware of shysters who promise you a 457 visa and job in exchange for large sums of money.


Longer term issue


Hopefully all your hard work leads to a new role. So all's well that ends well, right? Maybe not. Whilst finding a “take over’ employer is always a great relief to the 457 visa holder, it does come with an impairment for those with an eye to perhaps becoming a permanent resident one day.


The usual pathway to permanent residency for 457 visa holders is the Temporary Residence Transition stream of the Employer Nomination Scheme subclass 186 visa (TRT-ENS). In order to qualify for this pathway you need to have been working with your current Australian employer for at least two years as the holder of a subclass 457 visa.


Changing employer restarts the clock.  If you have less than two years left on your existing subclass 457 visa when you switch employer, you won’t reach the time threshold to apply for a TRT-ENS unless you apply for a new 457 visa.


It would therefore be wise to consider within 12 months of the business nomination approval to perhaps apply for another four years subclass 457 visa. All business nominations are valid for a period of 12 months from the date of their approval and within these 12 months a fresh subclass 457 visa should be lodged and finalised. Even if permanent residency isn’t a goal, having a 457 visa with a longer term gives the employee a chance to have a more significant relationship with that employer. Either way, it is worth having a discussion with your employer within the first six months of employment about applying for a new visa.


It’s wise to be proactive with your intentions to settle temporarily or permanently in a new country. Seek professional advice in advance of an emergency.

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