Top ten 457 occupations lodged, approved, and refused!

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP), along with many other government departments, regularly posts on their website information that people have requested from their department through Freedom of Information laws. The information they provide on their website does not include any personal information, among other exceptions.

One request that was recently published was the number of 457 nomination applications lodged, approved, and refused according to occupation for the months from July 2014 to May 2016. Anybody with internet access can access this disclosure log.

These tables provide interesting statistical information on the 457 visa programme, however, a couple of warnings should be noted. Firstly, it does not take into account applications withdrawn or otherwise finalised because the preceding business sponsorship was refused. Secondly, it would also not account for the applications on hand, that is, lodged but not yet decided.

The information presented this way is very telling for a number of reasons.

So without further delay, here are the top ten applications lodged by occupation out of a total of 137,989 applications lodged from July 2014 to May 2016:

  1. 351411 Cook – 8465

  2. 141111 Cafe or Restaurant Manager – 6680

  3. 261312 Developer Programmer – 4888

  4. 225113 Marketing Specialist – 4610

  5. 351311 Chef – 3961

  6. 261111 ICT Business Analyst – 3398

  7. 253111 General Practitioner – 3095

  8. 261313 Software Engineer – 3026

  9. 131112 Sales and Marketing Manager – 3021

  10. 224711 Management Consultant – 2681

For the same period, the 457 nominations approved by occupation out of a total of 114,776 nomination applications approved:

  1. 351411 Cook – 6149

  2. 261312 Developer Programmer – 4738

  3. 141111 Cafe or Restaurant Manager – 4624

  4. 225113 Marketing Specialist – 3485

  5. 261111 ICT Business Analyst – 3323

  6. 351311 Chef – 3232

  7. 253111 General Practitioner – 3006

  8. 261313 Software Engineer – 2941

  9. 242111 University Lecturer – 2654

  10. 253112 Resident Medical Officer – 2642

And finally, the top ten 457 nominations refused by occupation out of a total of 11,159 nomination applications refused during the same period:

  1. 149212 Customer Service Manager – 1390

  2. 351411 Cook – 995

  3. 141111 Cafe or Restaurant Manager – 892

  4. 225113 Marketing Specialist – 640

  5. 221111 Accountant (General) – 429

  6. 131112 Sales and Marketing Manager – 414

  7. 511111 Contract Administrator – 359

  8. 639211 Retail Buyer – 236

  9. 351311 Chef – 200

  10. 149413 Transport Company Manager – 162

The results may surprise many. Of course, people would appreciate a practitioner’s opinion on this data, so here goes:

  • A registered migration agent may be inclined to conclude that most of the top ten refused occupations were because the application had failed the genuineness criterion, with the exception of Cook. Genuineness was introduced to give the DIBP the ability to refuse nominations because the position did not fit within the size or scope of the business, or where the position was otherwise not consistent with the nature of the sponsoring business’s activities. The DIBP revised its policy on this criterion on 1 July 2016. Many applications may have been attempted to “shoehorn” a lower skilled occupation into an occupation that can be nominated, anecdotal evidence echoing many experienced registered migration agents’ sentiments. For instance:

  • A front line customer service positions – 149212 Customer Service Manager

  • A waiter/server – 141111 Cafe or Restaurant Manager,

  • General sales positions – any one of 225113 Marketing Specialist, 131112 Sales and Marketing Manager, 511111 Contract Administrator, or 639211 Retail Buyer, and

  • Bookkeeper – 221111 Accountant (General).

Many of these occupations also, not surprisingly, align with vocational and undergraduate courses popular with overseas students.

  • Cook is an exception because the occupation of Cook requires mandatory labour market testing unless exempted. The sections of the Act governing these occupations require evidence of labour market testing to accompany the application, and the DIBP have been vigilant in applying this requirement. Applications that fail to provide this evidence at the time of application are inevitably refused.

  • There was a significant, and unexplainable spike in refusals in February 2016 with almost 1000 refusals. The number of refusals subsided shortly after.

  • There were a number of nominations that were made in occupations not on the Consolidated Skilled Occupation List (CSOL). This means that unless the occupation was approved under a labour agreement, which required an involved and separate negotiation with the DIBP, or the business has utilised a Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA), it was bound to be refused. Occupations refused include:

  • 621111 Sales Assistant (General),

  • 551111 Accounts Clerk,

  • 839313 Product Tester, and even

  • 899999 Labourers not else classified.

  • Conversely, there were occupations that are not on the CSOL, which were approved, meaning these occupations have been approved under a labour agreement or DAMA, barring an unlikely administrative mistake, of course. These occupations include:

  • 531111 General Clerk,

  • 611399 Sales Representatives not else classified,

  • 711516 Rubber Production Machine Operator,

  • 733111 Truck Driver (General), and

  • 821712 Scaffolder.

If there is anything to learn from this data it is that visa applications can be complicated, and businesses and visa applicants are at a disadvantage attempting to lodge applications without professional advice. They do so at their own risk. It also highlights the importance that businesses should seek frank advice before embarking on a course of action, including that, maybe, an application should not be lodged at all.