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Why do people use the subclass 457 visa program?

4 June 2015 - 6:08pm

Australia is an attractive place to work for many people all over the world. On top of the typically warm climate and a famously laid-back culture, our economy supports people who want to lend their skills to our talent pool.

After all, we're the sixth biggest country in the world with a population around a third the size of the UK and one-fourteenth that of the US, so there's room to grow.

For this reason, we have a regulated visa program that works in stages to allow people with different skills to work Down Under. One of these is the 457 temporary skilled visa, which allows people to work in the country for up to four years, if they can provide skills that are listed on the shortages list.

A quick note on 457 health insurance

Those entering the country on the back of this type of visa will need adequate health insurance before entering the country to stay compliant with visa condition 8501.

This requires all visa holders, including any family members who may be joining them abroad, to arrange health insurance for their entire stay in Australia.

"You are required to maintain an adequate level of insurance cover for the duration of your stay in Australia," the Department of Immigration explains. "This insurance must be at least as comprehensive as the minimum level of coverage required under the subclass 457 visa program."

What's in it for employers?

So why are 457 visas used? Filling skills gaps and working in a new country is an exciting prospect for individual workers to develop their skills and resumes, but employers often enjoy a number of benefits, too.

The first is to broaden the talent pool from which they can attract workers.

In a report by the Migration Council of Australia, a huge 86 per cent of employers said they experience difficulties when recruiting workers locally. Casting this wider net often means they don't need to jack up their wage structure to accommodate employees with in-demand skills.

They are also pleased with the results, for the most part, when sponsoring an employee on a subclass 457 visa.

Employer across all industries are three times as likely to be more satisfied with workers on 457 visas than they are Australian employees, the survey found. The hospitality sector was one of the most satisfied when taking on workers on a 457, with employers 13 times more likely to prefer these than their Aussie counterparts.

That's not to say that the use of foreign workers was ruining opportunities for native workers; more than three-quarters (76 per cent) of all 457 visa holders said their skills had been used in the training of Australian workers, strengthening their employability.

The majority of employers (68.5 per cent) also said they used such foreign specialists to train their Aussie workers.

What's in it for employees?

Meanwhile, worker satisfaction is similarly high, showing that the benefits aren't just for the hirer. In fact, 88 per cent of 457 holders said they are either "very satisfied" or "satisfied" with their relationship with their employer, suggesting a higher level of engagement and retention.

Foreign workers were also boosted from knowing their desired skills were not going to waste, with an overwhelming majority (86.3 per cent) saying they felt their job Down Under put their skills and training to good use.

What's more, hinting at their overall enjoyment, almost three-quarters of 457 visa holders (71 per cent) responded to the study to say they intended to apply and become permanent residents once their visa term had expired.

If you are sponsoring an employee on a subclass 457 visa and need a complete, cost-effective corporate health insurance policy, contact HICA today on 1300 44 22 01.