From a timing perspective, one of the benefits of the 457 Visa is that it allows an individual to move to and commence work within Australia within a relatively short period of time.
Unlike many of Australia’s other skilled visa streams, applications for a 457 Visa can be completed and approved within two to three months. This is in stark contrast to some of the alternative options which may sometimes take a year or more.
With that said, the 457 visa is only a temporary option allowing an individual four years in which to live and work within Australia. What happens if you want to stay in Australia for longer than four years though?
This brings us onto a question we received via our Facebook page yesterday.
How Do I convert a 457 visa to permanent residency (PR)?
To begin with it’s important to note that moving from a temporary 457 visa to a permanent residency visa requires a new application. Based on some of the feedback we’ve received, there appears to be a misconception that a 457 visa automatically converts to a permanent residency visa after two years. Unfortunately this is not the case.
The most common approach to converting from a 457 visa to PR is the Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186). This visa is a permanent residence visa for skilled workers and is the most common approach taken by 457 Visa holders who wish to convert to PR. We’ll focus on this approach for the purposes of this article.
At a high level, converting from a 457 Visa to PR can be accomplished via the following steps.
- The 457 Visa employer nominates the employee for permanent residency.
- Once granted the employee completes the application process
- The application is assessed by the Australian immigration department against a number of criteria.
- The application for permanent residency is approved (or denied).
If you are on a 457 visa and you have worked for two years, in the same occupation with your nominating employer then your employers can nominate you for permanent residency under the Temporary Residence Transition Stream (TRTS). The Temporary Residence Transition stream is for 457 visa holders whose nominating employer wants to offer them a permanent position in that occupation.
You can apply for PR after you have been nominated by your employer in Australia. You must lodge your application within six months of the nomination being approved by the Australian Immigration department. You must apply for the visa in the stream and occupation in which your employer nominated you, or your application could be refused.
How do I qualify to convert a 457 Visa to PR?
There are a number of things to give consideration to if you are looking to convert from a 457 visa to PR. In addition to being nominated by your employer you will also need to be under the age of 50 at the time of application (see below for exemptions to this), have the required skills and qualifications for the position (which in most cases need to be assessed), have appropriate English language skills (at the time of application lodgement) and meet the health and character requirements defined by the Australian immigration department.
We’ll cover these requirements in a little more detail below:
Generally, you need to be under 50 years of age to convert to permanent residency via the Temporary Residence Transition Stream. There are however some exceptions to this:
If you are older than 50 years of age, you can still apply for this visa if you:
- are nominated as a senior academic (University Lecturer or Faculty Head) by a university in Australia
- are nominated as a scientist, researcher or technical (scientific) specialist at ANZSCO skill level 1 or 2 by an Australian government scientific agency
- are a medical practitioner who has been working in your nominated occupation as the holder of a Subclass 457 visa for at least four years immediately before applying, this employment was located in regional Australia for at least two of these years and the nominated position is located in regional Australia
- are a medical practitioner who has been working for your nominating employer as the holder of a Subclass 422 visa before becoming the holder of a Subclass 457 visa for two years in the four years immediately before applying, and the nominated position is in regional Australia
- are a medical practitioner who has been working in your nominated occupation as the holder of a Subclass 422 visa before becoming the holder of a Subclass 457 visa for two years in the four years immediately before applying, this employment was located in regional Australia for at least two of these years and the nominated position is in regional Australia
- are applying through the Temporary Residence Transition stream, and you have been working for your nominating employer as the holder of a Subclass 457 visa for at least four years immediately before applying, and that employer paid you at least as much as the Fair Work High Income Threshold in each of the four years
- are applying through the Agreement stream and the relevant labour agreement allows for a person who has turned 50 to be employed.
English language requirements
The English language requirements are very similar to the English language requirements you needed to fulfil when you applied for your 457 Visa. Specifically, you will need to show that your English is adequate. This will be achieved by providing the following evidence at the time of application:
That you have achieved the required minimum test scores in a specified English language test within three years immediately prior to the date of application lodgement. Or that you hold a valid passport issued by the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada, New Zealand or the Republic of Ireland with evidence that you are a citizen of that country.
There are some exceptions to this rule. You might not need to show adequate English language skills if you are lucky enough to have nominated earnings at least equivalent to the current Australian Taxation Office top individual income tax rate (currently AUD 180 001 at time of this article).
As with the 457 Visa stream, when applying for permanent residency you must meet certain health requirements. These health requirements will be validated via way of a health assessment. These health requirements also apply to all dependent family members included in your application, whether they are migrating or not.
Finally, you must meet certain character requirements in support of your application. You will need to provide a police certificate from each country you have lived in for 12 months or more during the past 10 years after you turned 16 years of age. This applies to you and all the dependent family members listed in your application, whether they are migrating or not.
Applying to convert a 457 Visa to Permanent Residency
Like the majority of Australian Visa classes, your application for permanent residency can be completed online. Your employer will need to lodge their nomination in support of your application although you can apply at the same time as the nomination or you can apply afterwards. Your employers nomination can also be completed online.
When using the online application process both yourself and your employer will require an “immiAccount”. If you can remember your immiAccount details from the time you lodged your 457 Visa application, you’ll be able to use the same one. Your employer will likely also already have one of these accounts in place.
It’s worth noting that you must apply within six (6) months of the employers nomination being approved. If you are 18 years of age or older, you must also sign an “Australian values statement” to confirm that you will respect the Australian way of life and obey Australian laws.
There will be a number of documents you will need to include in support of your application to convert your 457 Visa to permanent residency. A check list is provided as part of your application process so we won’t cover the full list here as the forms and references may change from time to time.
How long does it take to process the application?
Your application could take longer if you need character or health checks (including x-rays), if you need to provide more information, or if your application is incomplete.
In general terms the Australian Immigration department processes application in priority based on visa type. Applications under the Employer Nomination Scheme are allocated into priority group number 2. As of the date of this article the typical processing time for visas granted under this scheme is between 5 and 8 months. This will vary dependent on the home country of the applicant and whether or not it is considered a high risk or low risk country by the Australian immigration department.
We hope this article provides a reasonable overview of hoe to convert from a 457 visa to PR. As always, feel free to post in our comments if you have any questions.
To your success