Leaving Your Visa Sponsor | 187 visa

This must be one of the most commonly asked questions that I receive from Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (Subclass 187 visa) applicants: Do I need to stay with my sponsoring employer for 2 years after the visa is approved?

Leaving your visa sponsor | 187 visa


In the visa application form, as the applicant, you are required to declare that you:


  1. Agree to work in the nominated position for at least two years
  2. Understand that if you as the applicant, or any family members included in the application or third parties acting your behalf, provide (or have provided in a previous application) false or misleading information, or bogus documents either knowingly or otherwise, the visa application will be refused and you may be subject to three year bar in relation to visas to which the fraud criterion applies. Any visa granted may be cancelled.


Effectively, this means that when your visa application is lodged, you must have the intention to work for your sponsoring employer in your nominated role for at least 2 years from the date that the visa is approved.


You need to continue to have this intention until a decision is made on your application. If your intention changes before lodgement, or during processing, and you no longer intend to work for your sponsoring employer for at least 2 years from when the visa is approved, then you should either not lodge the application or inform the Department and withdraw your application (which ever is applicable to your situation).



Section 137Q – Cancellation of permanent residency


Section 137Q gives the Department the power to cancel the permanent residency that you obtained through RSMS. The section itself is relatively straight forward and states that permanent residency granted under the RSMS pathway may be cancelled if:


  1. You do not commence employment in your nominated role within 6 months of the date of approval (if you are in Australia at the time of approval) or within 6 months of entering Australia as the holder of a RSMS visa AND you do not satisfy the Department that you have made a genuine effort to commence employment within the 6 month period; or
  2. You commence employment but you terminate your employment within the first 2 years AND you do not satisfy the Department that you have made a genuine effort to remain in your nominated role for the required 2 years.


How is the Department notified?



Generally speaking, the most common way for the Department to find out is through the employer notifying the Department that you have either failed to commence employment, or you terminated your employment before you have completed 2 years.


The Department can also find out about the termination of your employment through information that it receives from other government departments, such as the Australian Taxation Office, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, Centrelink etc.


As the visa holder, you are not under any specific obligation to notify the Department if your employment is terminated.,

Genuine Effort

If the Department does decide to conduct an investigation, under policy, the following must be considered when the Department determines whether you have made a ‘ genuine effort’ (the below is a direct extract from the Department’s policy):

  1. The visa holder’s reasons and/or circumstances leading to the failure to commence work or to complete the two year employment period (family or personal considerations may be a factor under these circumstances)
  2. The possibility that the visa holder, in collusion with the employer, does not commence work within the six month period or resigns shortly after commencing work, as part of an arrangement to help the visa holder enter or remain in Australia
  3. In the case of termination, the period of the visa holder’s employment with the employer prior to termination of the employment (generally, periods of more than 12 months may be considered as a genuine effort) and
  4. Any other matter which is relevant to the commencement or termination of the employment.

The below is a summary of other relevant parts of the Department’s policy in relation to s137Q:

  • If you are ceasing employment on ‘reasonable grounds’, you are expected to give your employer reasonable notice.
  • The Department is unlikely to decide that you have not made a genuine effort if your failure to commence or your termination of employment was due to circumstances outside of your control (e.g. your employer’s financial loss, bankruptcy or closure of the business).
  • The Department may decide that you have not made a genuine effort if you ‘deliberately damaged or sabotaged the employer’s business to cause the dismissal’.

At the end of the day, policy does state that decisions made under s137Q are a matter to be resolved between the Department and the visa holder. The former employer can provide information to the Department but they are not involved in the ultimate decision-making process.

Consequently, if the Department is considering the possibility of cancelling your visa, the Department will need to contact you to give you the opportunity to present your side of the story.

Before you ask...

Please do not ask us whether it is ok for you to leave your employer before completing the required 2 years of post visa approval employment. I’m sorry but I’m not going to respond to comment questions asking me to predict whether the Department will take any action against your permanent residency.

One of our clients did contact the Department before he left his employer – he asked the Department whether it was ok for him to leave and whether the Department would take action against his permanent residency visa. The Department expressly advised:

The Department is unable to determine whether or not a visa would be cancelled prior to ceasing employment. The assessment can only be made after the event, that is, after the visa holder ceases employment with the nominated employer.

If the Department cannot even tell you what is going to happen before they complete an assessment, then I certainly cannot predict the Department’s actions.

I would say that if you ceased employment because your employer no longer needs you (irrespective of why this is the case – it can be a change of management, closure of the business, lack of work etc.), then I think that the Department is unlikely to take any action against your permanent residency.

Also, if you have obtained your Australian citizenship, then I do not think that the Department would take any action against your citizenship if you leave your employer.

Client reviews


Manni · July 16, 2019 at 7:38 pm

I just want to confirm, is it compulsory for secondary applicant(spouse) to live in regional area for 2 years after grant of RSMS(187) ? I am living in regional area from last 3 years but our rsms approved 6 months ago.

    My Access Australia · July 19, 2019 at 8:22 pm

    Hi Manni,
    As a 187 dependent visa holder there is no obligation on you to stay in a regional area.

      Manpreet Dhaliwal · July 19, 2019 at 8:27 pm


Sak · June 19, 2019 at 11:48 pm

Hi Pang,
I have been working with nominated company for 1 year and 5 months but only 3 months after my visa was granted. Now the company is sold and I lost my position. Do I still have to stay in regional area?

    My Access Australia · June 24, 2019 at 4:30 pm

    Hi Sak,
    You have unrestricted work rights on a 187 visa. However, if you leave your current employer within 2 years of the visa approval there is the potential that the Department will investigate. If the Department does investigate, continuing to work in a regional area may help with your response.
    Please see Contact Us page and in relation to our Consultation Service – feel free to contact us if you need advice in relation to your options.

Michael · June 10, 2019 at 10:04 pm

2/2 With a 187 it states that you need to work for the company for 2 years after the visa is granted. I really feel that my time there is up and can’t go on any longer. Does anyone know if I will loose my visa if I do this. If this was the case I will be forced to stay as I love it here in Perth.Some people say it’s fine walk, some say I’ll get kicked out the country.

    My Access Australia · June 14, 2019 at 8:04 pm

    Hi Michael,
    You have unrestricted work rights on a 187 visa. However, if you leave the business within the 2 years of approval you run the risk of the Department investigating and your visa potentially being cancelled.
    Please see above post for further and detailed information.
    Please see Contact Us page and in relation to our Consultation Service if you would like further advice.

Michael · June 10, 2019 at 10:03 pm

I started work for a company out here 2.5 years ago and they put me through my PR straight away. Unfortunately with the current processing times this took 2 years. It was finally granted in April of this year.
Over the past 2 years the company has changed so much. I have a serious issue with a certain member of staff and have put 2 official harassment cases in but they have fallen on deaf ears hearing nothing back. Unfortunately it is not taking a toll on my heath and repeatedly get signed (1/2

Cedric · May 8, 2019 at 10:21 pm


I am awaiting approval for a 187 visa – once it is approved, can I stay with the same employer and do any of the below:

a) Work remotely but from Adelaide instead of rural SA
b) Work for them still but under a different job title
c) Be full time but with a reduced salary to what was on an approved visa

Once it has been granted, what happens if they changed my role but I am not happy with it?


    Peng Cheng · May 9, 2019 at 1:57 pm

    Hi Cedric,
    Please see above post in relation to your obligations as a 187 visa holder. Please see our Contact Us page and in relation to our Consultation Service – feel free to contact us if you need further advice.

jam · April 30, 2019 at 10:56 pm

Dear Sir/Madam

In 187 visa grant first 2 years (Chef Position), can I work under my sponsor’s company and also have the rights below ?
1. I can get promoted and salary adjustment.
2. I can also have my own business.(ABN) (Any kinds of business.)
3. I can also use TFN working as a casual worker for not my sponsor’s company in my free time. (ex. Housekeeper, cook…any kinds of job.)

Am I correct?
Thank you

    Peng Cheng · May 2, 2019 at 9:25 am

    Hi Jam,
    Yes to all – you have unrestricted work rights.

vijay singh · April 19, 2019 at 7:29 am

Hi Peng
I hope you doing great. I got 187 visa and I am working with employer from 4 months. Employer is selling his business in two weeks. Can this effect my visa?
working somewhere else in same town should be alright as I am staying in regional area.
Or just stay at same place but don’t show any kind of work will help me
Or what else I can do?
Please reply soon

    Peng Cheng · April 23, 2019 at 12:57 pm

    Sorry but I would need to refer you to our consultation services if you need such advice that is personalised for your history and circumstances.
    Please see Contact Us page and in relation to our Consultation Service.

Kshitiz Kunwar · April 11, 2019 at 7:03 pm

Hi there
I have been with my employer since 2017 May my rsms visa got approved on Dec 2018
I am facing financial difficulties can I work for other business as on casual on my day offs will I get into trouble.

    Peng Cheng · April 15, 2019 at 1:49 pm

    Hi Kshitiz,
    Yes you can have other jobs – you have unrestricted work rights.

Gary · January 31, 2019 at 10:57 am

Hello Peng
I have lodge 187 application 20 months before in direct entry stream. Also I am working with my employer from 2 years on 457 and 482 visa. I got nomination last week. How long now process will take to visa approve. And still I have to work another 2 years with my employer after 187 visa approve.

    Peng Cheng · February 2, 2019 at 8:21 pm

    Hi Gary,
    How long now process will take to visa approve.
    Generally speaking, the Department should be able to finalise your application in the next few weeks.
    And still I have to work another 2 years with my employer after 187 visa approve.
    Please see above post.

Kevin · January 31, 2019 at 8:00 am

Hi Peng, I got my 187 few months back, after visa granted I keep trying to reach out to my sponsor. However, the response I got was they unable to provide me the position (upon the agreed position on 187 application) as they already found someoneelse( casue the 187 took almost 2 years process time). Whats the next step should I take?

    Peng Cheng · February 2, 2019 at 8:25 pm

    Hi Kevin,
    Please see above post – I’m sorry but the commitment made for a 187 visa is to work for 2 years after your visa is approved.
    Please see Contact Us page and in relation to our Consultation Service – feel free to contact us if you need assistance.

Louis · January 22, 2019 at 8:21 am

Hello Peng,

If the contract is longer than 2 years, is it alright to work 2 years and leave the employer? In that case I meet the visa condition, so is that I have all the rights to decide whether I would like to keep working, is my understanding correct?

Is there any issue for applying resident return visa or citizenship later? Thank you!

    Peng Cheng · January 22, 2019 at 3:45 pm

    Hi Louis,
    It would be safe to leave after 2 years – this shouldn’t affect an RRV or citizenship application.

      Louis · January 22, 2019 at 10:40 pm

      Thanks Peng

      So the immigration case officer will not assess my employment history( specifically my contract employment period) when he or she processing my RRV/citizenship application?

        raj · January 29, 2019 at 7:40 pm

        Hi Peng, I have completed 15 months on 187 visa and my employer wants to relieve me will there be any concern i have been working with the same employer for 5 years. however, 187 was for 15 months.
        should I request them to put me on leave without pay after they do my full n final?

          Peng Cheng · February 2, 2019 at 8:30 pm

          Hi Raj,
          Please see above post – I don’t think that the Department would cancel your visa.

            Raj · February 2, 2019 at 9:11 pm

            Thanks PC , so i can stop working after 15 months if my employer wants me to go , will it impact my PR as the visa 187 was given on the condition of completing 24 months.
            I have also applied for citizenship , will it impact in anyway.

            Also can an employer reduce my package due to less work required or due to change of role and requirment after 15 month.

            Thanks for your help.

              Peng Cheng · February 6, 2019 at 1:14 pm

              I don’t think that the Department would cancel your visa, and I don’t think that this would affect your citizenship application.

        Peng Cheng · February 2, 2019 at 8:20 pm

        Sorry I don’t have this information in relation to the Department’s internal processes.

david · January 8, 2019 at 9:42 pm

hey peng
please i would want to ask working with my employer for 2 years after the 187 is granted,must it have to be on a full time basis or casual or part time permanent? thanks in advance

    Peng Cheng · January 17, 2019 at 9:08 pm

    Hi David,
    You should be working full-time.

Daniel Hall · December 28, 2018 at 3:07 pm

Hi Peng
I have been working for my sponsor for 3 years only 11 months under a 187. There was a fire and the business has shut down for 6 months am I entitled to carry on with a new job to finish my last 13 months

    Peng Cheng · January 8, 2019 at 6:45 pm

    Hi Daniel,
    In these circumstances I believe it would be reasonable to look for a new job.
    Please see above post.

Anugrah · November 15, 2018 at 12:14 am

Hey Peng, I have been working with my company almost 2 years but only granted 187 last october. Can I leave my employment after 2 years? Or after visa granted?

    Peng Cheng · November 19, 2018 at 3:53 pm

    Hi Anugrah,
    The obligation is to work for 2 years from when the visa was granted.

      Taylor · December 22, 2018 at 8:20 am

      Thanks for the info

      Taylor · December 24, 2018 at 8:41 am

      Hello Peng

      Is there anyway I can send my question directly to you instead of posting here?

Danni · November 8, 2018 at 4:01 pm

if you lose your job on 187 that’s not been granted and are currently on a bridging visa. Where does that leave you in terms of find new sponsor and nomination?

STEFANO PASSERI · November 7, 2018 at 1:09 pm

HI, I am under RSMS sponsorship and my 2 years of working full time finish the 5th December 2018 when can I stop working and when can I give the notice to my employer?

    Peng Cheng · November 9, 2018 at 11:49 am

    Hi Steano,
    You can leave the business once you have completed your 2 years of employment. In terms of providing notice to your employer, please refer to your employment contract for notice periods etc.

      STEFANO PASSERI · November 12, 2018 at 6:26 am

      let’s say that I finish my contract on the 5th of December and under my employment contract it says that I have to give 3 weeks of notice, can I give the 3 weeks of notice before the 5th of December or I have to wait until the 5th of December and then give the 3 weeks of notice?

        Peng Cheng · November 13, 2018 at 1:00 pm

        You can give your three weeks notice before 5th December.

Babu · October 29, 2018 at 11:18 pm

Hi Peng My 187 visa was approved on Apr17 and I worked with my emlyr full time for Aug 17-Oct-17 .Because of sm complication in my wife’s pregnancy and personal reasons.I hv applied for LWNP for 10 months as I was not in a situation to do full time job . Which my employer was approved when I finished with leave I tried contacted my emplr and emailed him .I got reply that the compny is not doing good nw facing losses.I tried to get to my position .But he mailed me the this .wt can I do nw?

    Peng Cheng · November 1, 2018 at 7:36 pm

    Hi Babu,
    Sorry but to properly respond to your queries, I’d need to ask some questions and get some information from you. Please see Contact Us page in relation to our Consultation Service – feel free to contact us if you need advice in relation to your visa options.

Peter · September 22, 2018 at 4:08 pm

Hi Peng,

I’ve been on my 187 visa for more than two years now, my employer who sponsored me over has retired and has shut down the business. What I’m really wanting to know if I’m eligible to apply for jobs in main centres or do I have to stay in regionals.
Thanking you kindly.


    Peng Cheng · September 24, 2018 at 2:21 pm

    Hi Peter,
    You are eligible to apply for jobs in main centers as well as regional centers; your Permanent Residency allows you to work and live anywhere you choose to within Australia.

      Peter · September 24, 2018 at 2:56 pm

      Thank you Peng for getting back,does that apply to both Temporary Residence Transition and Direct Entry?
      I just got a bit confused cause when I called the Home Affairs Department up, one would tell me I can’t and need to stay in regional or apply for another visa and next time I call, someone else would tell me that I can move anywhere, as long I’ve served my two years.

        Peng Cheng · September 28, 2018 at 7:05 pm

        Hi Peter,
        The obligations apply to both streams (Temporary Residence Transition and Direct Entry).

Heidi Edu · September 18, 2018 at 7:28 am

Hi Peng,

Im on a 187 visa and still within the 2 year commitment period. I am being bullied and harassed at work and always being threatened that they will terminate me, they have also started changing my position by letting me do tasks outside my job description. My question, if I leave my current employer (who said can agree to release me) and find a new employer, does the new employer need to agree to sponsor me until i finish the 2 year commitment period from date of visa grant?

    Peng Cheng · September 24, 2018 at 2:23 pm

    Hi Heidi,
    A new employer will not be able to sponsor you as your 187 visa cannot be ‘transferred’ from your original employer. As a Permanent Resident you have unrestricted work rights so you will be able to work for a new employer, however, if you do decide to leave your current position, you will need to consider the risk factors, as outlined in the above post.

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