Rising demand for trade workers may result in Australia's 457 visa program achieving its strongest year since the global financial crisis, according to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC).
Citing April figures, the department noted that some 42,872 applications for 457 visas have been filed in 2010-11 so far - a figure already approximately 4,000 higher than the total figure recorded in 2009-10.
Last month alone, the department received a total of 4,200 applications for 457 visas.
A spokesman for the DIAC commented that the rising numbers reflect "an improved economic environment" in Australia, as well as increasing employer demand for skilled workers, particularly when local labour is not available.
He added that the number of trade workers and technicians coming to the country under the 457 visa program has increased by 70 per cent during the past 12 months. In particular, rising numbers of workers in the mining and construction sectors were recorded, highlighting growth in these industries.
"More than 18,500 organisations currently employ overseas workers, with about 70 per cent of workers being employed in small and medium-sized businesses," he remarked.
The spokesman also noted that processing times for this type of visa - which allows temporary workers to come to Australia for up to four years to take up sponsored skilled employment - have decreased by approximately 30 per cent in the past five years.
457 visas are currently being processed at a median time of 22 days, although this could be halved once a new processing centre opens in Brisbane, the department noted.
In order to qualify for a temporary sponsored skilled visa, the applicant must satisfy a number of criteria.
They must be nominated in a skilled occupation and be sponsored by an employer who has been approved by the DIAC. In addition, they must show they have the necessary skills to perform their sponsored occupation and hold any appropriate licenses.
Depending on the role, 457 visa applicants may also need to demonstrate English language proficiency.
If you are an employer looking to temporarily sponsor a migrant worker, or if you are an employee applying for a 457 visa, you may wish to consult with a migration lawyer.
Lawyers with a background in immigration can help you prepare your application and ensure that all your details are in order, which may lead to quicker processing times.