One very common question that I receive from Subclass 457, 186 and 187 visa holders is: I need to leave my employer – what is going to happen?


You may want or need to leave your employer for a number of different reasons. The below are just some examples that I have encountered:


  1. My employer is making me do duties which are not in my nominated role – I do not want to do these tasks
  2. My employer isn’t paying me the salary that was specified in my contract and/or visa application
  3. The ownership of my employing company has changed – I do not get along with the new management / owner
  4. I’ve been offered a role with another company and I want to take this
  5. My employer no longer needs my services and they have terminated my employment


The events that may occur following the termination of your employment does depend on the visa that you hold. In this post, I will outline the various consequences that may result when you end your employment.


457 visa holders


If you want to change employers


Firstly, you need to ensure that your prospective employer is eligible to sponsor you for a 457 visa. This generally means that they need to hold Standard Business Sponsorship and that this sponsorship is valid (or that they are eligible and willing to apply for this). Your prospective employer will need to lodge a 457 nomination application and have this approved before you can start employment with them.


Changing employers and completing current employment obligations


As a 457 visa holder, you can only work for your sponsoring employer and in your approved role.


The exception to this is when you are changing your employer and 457 visa sponsor. Even after the 457 nomination application for your new employer has been approved and your sponsorship has changed to this new employer, you can continue to work for your former employer and sponsor to ‘fulfil a requirement to give notice of termination of employment’. This allows you to fulfil the terms of your employment contract and serve out any required notice period.


If you end your employment with your sponsor (or if your sponsor terminates your employment)


Your 457 visa is subject to condition 8107 – this condition requires you to remain employed in your nominated role with your sponsor. If your employment ceases, then your employer is obligated to notify the Department.


If more than 90 days has passed since your last date of employment, then you are considered to be in breach of condition 8107 and the Department may issue you with a Notice of Intention to Consider Cancellation. If you intend to lodge another visa application, then you can discuss this matter with the Department and see if they can give you a little extra time to prepare and finalise the application (evidence supporting your claim that you will be lodging a genuine application may help you case).


If your employer notifies the Department that you have ended your employment and you are outside of Australia, then the Department can cancel your 457 visa without notifying you.


Covering the cost of your flight to leave Australia


Once you have ceased employment,  you can make a written request to your former employer and request that they cover the reasonable cost of your departure. Your former employer is obligated to cover this cost if it receives such a request.


Employer Nomination Scheme – 186 visa holder


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.


Once you have obtained your permanent residency visa


Once you become an Australian permanent resident, the situation does change a bit. Generally speaking, there is nothing from a migration law perspective that can really prevent you from changing your employer or your role.


People tend to worry about whether their permanent residency visa will be cancelled if they leave their employer before completing 2 years of employment. This will generally not occur unless you have provided the Department with ‘false or misleading information, or bogus documents either knowingly or otherwise’.


In my view, even if the Department is informed about your cessation of employment, they will not act to cancel your permanent residency visa unless they are provided with some clear evidence of fraud or misleading behaviour in relation to your visa application (e.g. an email in which you state that you intend to quit the moment that you obtain your permanent residency).


Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme – 187 visa holder


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.


Relevant considerations in assessing ‘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.


Please firstly see FAQ and prior comments post which may answer your queries

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Jack Deely

Hay peng
So iv been sponsored in Australia for the past 2 years and iv currently moved to Canada for two years. I still have 3 years left on my sponsorship visa and my qestions are if i cancel my sponsorship visa can i reapply to be sponsored in Australia im still only 23.
Im just trying to keep to door open to go back to Australia and work but not for the same company


Hi Peng,
I have the 187 visa and I am working in my nominated occupation for my sponsor for 4 months now in regional Australia but the company would need to transfer me permanently to a different state to a big city which is not considered regional area.
Do you think it can be a reason to cancel my visa?


Hi Peng ,I am in 457 visa I was with my current employer for 2 and half year, now they don’t want to apply for Pr ?is it possible for me to find another employee and apply for Pr or I have to work with new employee for 2 years again?if that happpens what happens to my visa which I have 1 and half year left.


Hello. I am on 187 Bridging Visa A waiting for 13 months now. I have worked with my sponsored employer for the last 13 months with 187 bridging visa A (full time) and 3 years as a casual staff with student visa & graduated visa.

The question is do I need to stay with my sponsoring employer for 2 years AFTER the visa is approved? Is the waiting period (bridging visa) counted as the 2 years before 187 visa is approved?

Thank you


Hi Peng,

My husbands company sponsored his 457 visa with the condition he stays for 2 yrs. Upon completion, SCG said they will sponsor him for his 186 visa with the same condition. He signed a contract on Feb 2017 stating that he will stay for 2 years from the date of signing. It took months for the employers nomination to be filed as the owner was changing. We were able to complete lodging our application September 2017 and 186 was granted May 2018. He wants to change employer, is it legal?


Hi Peng,

I have a friend who just gained their PR through a regional sponsor and am wanting to move to another state to work and live, can they do this without jeopardising their PR?


Hi, my husband is on 457 visa and his employer is not willing to sponsor him for PR. He’s thinking of state nomination for regional visa 190 or skill independent 189. When granted, will he need to finish his four years with the employer or he can move to regional? For instance Tasmania you should work 6 months at least after nomination lodge, if he move he will have to find another sponsor so that he’s visa will not be cancelled.

Simon Tran

Hi Peng,
My current 457 is expiring in May this year and I’m trying to ask my employer to renew it for me.
My partner is expecting to receive the invitation for her visa 189 sometimes in July this year, so once we apply for visa 189, while we are on Bridging Visa A, do I still need to work for my current employer?
Look forwards to hearing back from you.
Many thanks!


Hi, my partner is currently on a 457 visa and has been for nearly 3 years, we are also currently applying for a partner visa as getting married in August but it is still saying it’s 20 months away before a decision is made. The employee she works for has recently been making life difficult in allocating her sufficient work so is it possible for her to quit her 457 and activate the bridging visa while waiting for the 820 to go through and if so is she allowed to work on this visa


Hello I’ve held a 187 visa in Victoria for 14 months, once I work for the full 2yrs can I leave my employer and work as an independent consultant? Can I work in another state? Does it have to be a regional job or can I go work in a big city (Sydney /Melb etc)?

Thank you.


Hi, I am applying for the PR visa 186. My company lost a very important client and their is a chance that I get redundant. What can I do? Will my visa application get rejected?


Hi Peng

I hope you’re well.
Within the 90 days after ceasing employment with the sponsor, can the 457 visa holder travel overseas and return to Australia before the 90 days expire?
There’s is an intention to lodge alternate substantive visa, upon the return from overseas, before the 90 days expire.



Hello, I have to clarify.. I was on 457 and resigned, went back home here in the Philippines. I claimed my Amist Insurance. The question is.. can I apply back to Australia but different employer?

Dongwi Kang

Hi I have been on 457 visa with same owner last 3 years and I applied 3 months ago for my 186 visa. However my 457 visa will be expired on next Oct.

So after next October, once I get the bridging visa a.

Am I allowed to leave this sponosr during waiting for approving my PR ?

Denise Bramhall

I’m on a 457 and have been for 25 months moving my whole family out from the UK with me. I’ve found out tonight that my employer would like to (confidentially) offer to pay me for 6 months to give me time to transfer my visa to another employer. Lack of research and a bad product fit they have not got the growth they wanted and I’m the scape goat. My children are in school my husband has a job and we are all very settled and want to stay. Help 🙁


I am on 457 visa and after completed 2 years, applied 186 visa 8 months ago and still my file not open yet. I am really not happy with the boss and want to leave. If I transfer my 457 to another sponsor , Do I have to start 186 from beginning or it can continue?

J kang

I’m currently on bridging visa to get my 457. Does these rules apply to my case as well? If I try to quit my current job and look for other job or consider changing visa, do I still get 90 days to figure things out? What happens if I quit my sponsoring job when I haven’t got my 457 yet and still on bridging visa?

John Lam

Hello. I am on 187 Bridging Visa A waiting for 27 months now. I have worked with my employer for the last 24 months and now I just wanted to transfer state while I’m waiting for my papers to be approved. I am and will genuinely go back to my employer once the visa is approved. I have the following questions.

Should my move affect my bridging or my papers?
Can I actually move state and once the visa is approved move back and work for my employer?

Thanks a lot