When it comes to meeting labour shortages in the hospitality and tourism sectors, the 457 visa program offers a welcome solution.
This is according to immigration minister Chris Bowen, who noted that the mining boom has created skilled and semi-skilled labour shortages in a number of other sectors, including tourism.
These shortages have been heightened thanks to higher competition for labour with the mining, gas and oil industries - and as a result, a number of hospitality providers are looking to overseas individuals to help fill these roles.
According to Bowen, one skill that is currently in short supply in Australia is Asian languages. This is becoming an increasingly in-demand skill due to the fact that there is a growing demand for Australian tourism services to cater to an emerging Asian middle-class market.
He noted in a November 1 speech to the Australian Tourism Directions conference that Asian countries currently make up 12 of the top 20 source countries for 457 visa holders - and that recent government measures undertaken to cut down on the amount of administration and paperwork sponsors have to go through have made it easier than ever before for sponsors to seek out and employ qualified overseas workers.
Employers can now hold sponsorship status for three years, rather than two, and sponsors are no longer required to meet healthcare costs for employees on 457 visas - instead, this is an obligation of the visaholder.
Bowen also noted that labour agreements are another popular way to employ overseas workers in Australian roles, although these require a number of commitments from the employer, including an ongoing effort to train and employ Australian citizens, as well as the ability to demonstrate the need for overseas workers to fill the role.
Any employer thinking about sponsoring a foreign worker as a 457 visa holder or through a labour agreement may wish to first enlist the services of a qualified migration lawyer, who can provide detailed advice on the obligations sponsors - as well as their employees - need to fulfil.
A lawyer can also provide invaluable advice on the likelihood of a visa being approved before the application is submitted, and can help employers and employees prepare the necessary paperwork for the greatest chance of a successful application.