The Parliament of Australia has published a Q&A guide regarding the subclass 457 visa. The post is reproduced here in full, but can be found at its original source here.

This guide provides an overview of the program to assist enquiries into the role of employers and visa holders, and some of the broader considerations in the program. Links to information sources are provided throughout the quick guide and in the final section ‘Need to know more?’

Visa holders

Which overseas workers can use the program?

Only workers who have been nominated by a business that has been approved as a Standard Business Sponsor can apply for a subclass 457 visa. Subclass 457 workers, known as ‘primary applicants’ must also apply for each of the family members (known as secondary applicants) they wish to bring to Australia for the duration of their employment.

In general, the primary applicant must have a genuine intention to perform in the nominated occupation, have the necessary skills and experience, meet English language requirements (unless exempt) and have relevant licencing and registration to perform work duties. All applicants must meet identity, health and character requirements.

How many actually use the program?

The number of subclass 457 visa holders in Australia on 30 September 2013 totalled 196,450. Of these, primary subclass 457 visa holders totalled 110,280. Primary 457 visa holders equate to almost one per cent of the total Australian labour force.

Australia does not cap the number of applicants from any one country.

Can temporary workers move freely between employers and locations?

As with Australians and permanent residents, subclass 457 visa holders and their families are free to move between employers, states and regional or non-regional locations. This is, however, on the proviso that their new employer is approved to sponsor and nominate under the program. Under recent migration amendments, subclass 457 visa holders now have 90 consecutive days once employment has ended with one employer to seek sponsorship with a new employer, rather than the prior arrangement of 28 consecutive days.

Can workers take up a second job?

Subclass 457 visa holders may not take up a second job even if this job is similar to the nominated role.

What are the work entitlements for immediate (accompanying) family members?

Whilst subclass 457 primary visa holders are approved to meet specific skill needs, their spouses and other working age dependents may work across industries in skilled or unskilled occupations during their stay in Australia.

Do temporary work visa holders pay regular taxes?

Yes. Employers withhold taxes from the pay of temporary workers and send it to the Australian Taxation Office during the income year. Employers also contribute towards superannuation in the same way as they do for Australian workers. On departure from Australia, temporary workers have the option to access their superannuation.

Do temporary work visa holders receive the same benefits as Australians?

No. Temporary workers do not have access to a range of government support available to Australian citizens and permanent residents, such as Centrelink payments and Medicare (unless reciprocal health agreements exist).

In addition, states and territories may charge fees for the children of workers on subclass 457 visas to attend public schools. New South Wales
(NSW) charges $4,500 for kindergarten, $4,500 for junior high schooling and $5,500 for senior high schooling of subclass 457 visa holders. The Australian Capital Territory charges $9,320, $12,500 and $13,900 respectively, although subclass 457 visa holders can apply for an education fee waiver if they are involved in a job that appears on the Skilled Occupation Lists. In 2013, Western Australia announced
a $4,000 per year public school tuition fee for children of subclass 457 visa holders but reports suggest this has been revised down to $2,000 for each additional child from the same family, with implementation postponed until 2015.

Subclass 457 visa holders in other states and the Northern Territory are exempt from international student fees, but may contribute minor administrative fees as do domestic students.

What happens if temporary work visa holders become sick or injured?

Subclass 457 visa holders are required to maintain private health cover
for the duration of their stay in Australia. At a minimum, this cover must be at least comprehensive for themselves and accompanying family members. As mentioned previously, the only potential exemptions are those who are enrolled with Medicare under reciprocal health care arrangements. Employers may choose to cover this cost, but are not required to do so.

Can temporary workers vote?

No, subclass 457 visa holders and their families are unable to vote in federal, state or territory elections.

Work rights

Workers under the subclass 457 scheme are governed by the same minimum conditions of employment as Australian workers. These conditions include working hours, overtime payments, rest breaks, sick leave and holidays.

All temporary workers have the right to join and be represented by a trade union. In addition, workers have the right to be treatedfairly which includes not being dismissed unfairly or discriminated against for reasons of race, religion, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, disability or for trade union membership.

Are subclass 457 visa holders required to have English language competency?

Temporary workers are required to demonstrate a level of English language proficiency unless their income is in excess of $96,400.

Although many primary visa applicants are required to have basic English, there are no requirements for dependents. Unlike some other temporary visa programs, school-aged dependents of temporary business visa holders are unable to access funding for intensive language assistance (ESL-NA) in language centres or units or in schools.

Access to settlement services

Settlement services
focus on ‘building self-reliance, developing English language skills and fostering connections with mainstream services as soon as possible after arrival in Australia’. To access settlement services, entrants need to be permanent residents who arrived within the last five years. As it is common for workers to extend temporary work arrangements before applying for and attaining a permanent visa, many 457 families will not qualify for settlement services during their stay in Australia, even if they later take up permanent residence.

The Adult Migrant English Program
is the Australian Government’s largest settlement program and works on the premise that ‘gaining English language proficiency is key to successfully settling in Australia’. Although some temporary programs include eligibility for this scheme, this does not extend to subclass 457 primary visa holders or their families.

Where do subclass 457 visa holders come from?

Subclass 457 visa holders are sourced from all over the globe, however, most subclass 457 visa holders originate from India (21 per cent), United Kingdom (19 per cent), Ireland (10 per cent), the Philippines (6 per cent) and the United States of America (6 per cent).

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