457 Work Visas a popular option for Australian employers

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Australia's temporary employment-based immigration scheme, the Subclass 457 work visa, is a very useful visa category for Australian employers who wish to hire overseas workers. Recent statistics from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) show that, while the global financial crisis and changes to Australian immigration law have resulted in lower net immigration into Australia, the 457 visa program remains popular.

Recently there has been a significant increase in the number of 457 visas being made.

The Subclass 457 visa is a temporary business visa similar in some ways to the United States H-1B visa. This visa allows Australian employers to sponsor overseas workers for a period of up to four years.

More and more Australian businesses are using the 457 work visa to fill skills shortages, according to a DIAC State/Territory Summary Report on the 457 visa program.

According to the report, close to 4,000 primary 457 visa applications were lodged in May of 2010, an increase of 12 percent over April of 2010. At the time of the report's release, May was the second-highest month for 457 visa applications after March of 2010.

Following a drop in application rates after Australia tightened immigration requirements on 14 September 2009, applications for 457 visas have been on an upwards trend, due to improved business conditions and a fall in unemployment rates.

Offshore 457 visa applications have continued to increase. In May of 2010, 60 percent of applications were lodged by applicants from outside Australia. At the time of DIAC's report, 51 percent of applications for the 457 work visa were made by applicants from outside Australia.

The state of New South Wales had the lions share of 457 visa grants with 36 percent of the visas, followed by Victoria (24 percent), and Western Australia (16 percent). New South Wales and Western Australia have both seen an explosion in 457 visa grants in the three month period leading up to the report. New South Wales saw an increase of 21 percent and Western Australia saw an increase of 16 percent during this period.

It's clear that Australia is recovering from the global financial crisis. Unemployment is falling and Australian employers are increasingly finding that they need to deal with skills shortages. The demand for overseas workers will continue to increase.