The adaptable 457 visa program can be an excellent way of quickly adapting to the ever-changing needs of the Australian economy, according to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.
A recent post published on the department's Skilled Migration Blog highlighted that this visa class is a popular way of filling temporary positions for skilled workers in response to employer demand.
The current resources boom has seen an increased need for skilled workers in mining-related occupations - for example, electrical engineering technicians and drillers.
During 2010-11, DIAC figures showed a 74.7 per cent increase in the number of visas granted for jobs related to the construction industry, as well as a 64 per cent rise in the number of applications for roles in WA - the hub of the current mining boom.
DIAC also highlighted the quick processing times for 457 visas as a major asset to employers looking to quickly fill labour shortages.
"The current shape of the program makes it a quick and effective tool for businesses to access skilled workers, while at the same time ensuring that the training and employment of Australians is the first priority for business," the DIAC asserted.
While published service standards range between two and three months, the median processing time for 457 visas last year was 23 calendar days - a historically low level - and the department has highlighted this as a further area of improvement in the coming year.
The DIAC frequently hosts information events for individuals and companies looking to find out more about the 457 visa program. Last week, for example, DIAC outreach officers visited the mid-north coast of NSW to give individuals and business owners the opportunity to have their questions about various visa and migration issues answered face-to-face.
"People in regional communities have a wide variety of immigration questions, ranging from the skilled migration program which helps small business owners who can't find experienced local staff, to issues for overseas students or people who want to enquire about sponsorship of family members or citizenship," said one department spokesperson.
Any business looking to sponsor a temporary skilled worker under the 457 visa program may do well to seek out the advice of an experienced migration lawyer.
Legal professionals with expertise in such matters will be able to offer advice on the likely outcome of a 457 visa application and can help companies and individual applicants prepare their case to maximise their chance of success.