Trends in the Subclass 457 Business (Long Stay) Visa Program to March 2009

Key Points

– Demand for the Subclass 457 Business (Long Stay) (Subclass 457) visa program is reflecting changes in the global and local economic environment. Primary visa applications in March 2009 were 33 per cent lower than September 2008.

Primary visa grants in March 2009 were 35 per cent lower than February 2009.

The number of permanent visa grants in March 2009 to primary applicants where the person last held a Subclass 457 visa was 89 per cent greater than March 2008.

Visa application trends

Subclass 457 Business (Long Stay) Visa primary application rates have been trending downward since September 2008 in response to the slowing economy. Applications lodged in March 2009 are at the lowest rate since July 2006.

The number of primary applications lodged in March 2009 was 33 per cent lower than those received in September 2008. The number of primary applications lodged in March 2009 was 2 per cent lower than February 2009.

There has been a significant decline in the number of primary applications for visa applicants who are outside Australia. The number of offshore primary visa applications received in March 2009 was 48 per cent lower than those received in September 2008. The downward trend in applications for primary visa applications outside Australia continued in March 2009 with applications lodged in this month 8 per cent lower than those lodged in February 2009.

The decline in application rates is also reflected in the average number of Subclass 457 primary visa applications lodged per week. The average number of Subclass 457 primary visa applications for ASCO 1-7 occupations lodged per week in Quarter 3 was 27 per cent lower than Quarter 2 of 2008-09. Primary visa applications for Trade occupations (ASCO 4) was 37 per cent lower in Quarter 3 compared to Quarter 2 of 2008-09.

Visa grant trends

A decline in visa grants mirrors the decline in visa applications lodged, but reflects a lag due to a typical six to eight week processing time.

The number of Subclass 457 primary visa grants in March 2009 was 53 per cent lower than those granted in September 2008. The number of Subclass 457 primary visa grants in March 2009 was almost 35 per cent lower than those in February 2009. The decline in grants may also be a reflection of the policy update effective 24 February 2009 relating to the benefit to Australia and salary level requirements.

Between July 2008 and September 2008, the total number of Subclass 457 primary visa grants was 27 per cent higher than the same period in the 2007-08 program year. However, the total number of primary visa grants to March 2009 was only four per cent higher than the same period in the previous program year.

Flow of Subclass 457 visa holders to permanent residence

There has been an increase in the number of grants of permanent residence visas to people who last held a Subclass 457 visa. The number of permanent visa grants in March 2009 to primary applicants where the person last held a Subclass 457 visa was 10 per cent greater than those in February 2009 and 89 per cent greater than March 2008.

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