More than one-quarter of all people currently residing in Australia on a 457 visa are from the United Kingdom, according to new figures from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.
The latest stats, which were released last month and cover the 12 months between January and December last year, showed that the UK dominated the list of countries with the most 457 visa holders in Australia.
Others in the top five included India (13.7 per cent), the Philippines (7.3 per cent), Ireland (6.5 per cent) and the US (6.2 per cent).
Overall, the number of subclass 457 visa holders in Australia in 2011 was 10.9 per cent higher than during 2010, totalling 128,600 people as of December 31 last year.
The popularity of 457 visas looks set to continue in the coming years thanks to the resources boom - and with some unlikely organisations investigating their sponsorship options, a reputable immigration lawyer could prove invaluable.
Speaking to the ABC today (May 2), Western Downs Regional Council mayor Ray Brown asserted that local businesses and councils are considering 457 visas as one solution to a shortage of skilled workers.
Over the past 18 months, Brown explained he has seen many skilled local planners move to new roles in the resources sector, leaving employment gaps that are proving challenging to fill.
Businesses that are new to the 457 visa sponsorship process may find it worthwhile to discuss their individual cases with a migration lawyer, who can not only offer advice about sponsorship obligations, but also the likely outcome of a successful 457 visa application.
Your lawyer can provide assistance in preparing an employer sponsorship application, as well as nominations for individual occupations they are hoping to fill.
Last week, Tony Abbott asserted that the 457 visa subclass needs to be changed to attract skilled migrants to Australia and encourage them to settle here.
Speaking to the Institute of Public Affairs, he said that he believed that as long as there were legitimate employee shortfalls and migrant workers would be paid at the same rate as Australian workers.
He also discussed the option of removing the four-year limit currently imposed on 457 visa holders, making it easier for them to secure permanent residency in Australia if they choose.