Leaving Visa Sponsor

One very common question that I receive from 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.

482 or 457 visa

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.

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).

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.

Client reviews


Kit · April 5, 2019 at 3:17 pm

Hi im kit.
I m just thinking i did an intensive 6months cooking program diploma n has a contain list of subjects similiar to certiv. Work 8 to 10 yrs .did pte all 6.0. Given testimonial n cert.given pay slip to show work adequate ly.would i be eligibile to lodge as chef.

    Peng Cheng · April 5, 2019 at 7:10 pm

    Hi Kit,
    Sorry but I can’t provide that advice just based on your comment information.
    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 visa options.

Lola · March 27, 2019 at 9:23 am

Hi Peng,
My company made a sponsorship (visa 182) request for me, and it had been accepted. But I still haven’t send my personal documents ( resume, cover letter etc…) to the immigration agent.
Because I would like to leave this company.
May I resign and keep my previous visa? Or do I need to stay and work with them?

    Peng Cheng · March 29, 2019 at 1:49 pm

    Hi Lola,
    Unfortunately I can’t provide advice about your visa eligibility just based on your comment information.
    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 visa options.

Jose · March 26, 2019 at 2:02 pm

Hi Peng

I am a 457 visa holder, worked already 3 years after visa granted so my Visa expires June 2020.
It seems my employer neglects to provide the requirements to me in order to apply for PR.
What can I do? There has a been already a year intennding to get my employer provides the above.

    Peng Cheng · March 29, 2019 at 1:50 pm

    Hi Jose,
    Unfortunately your employer isn’t under any obligation to apply for your PR.
    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 visa options.

Jack Deely · March 15, 2019 at 1:16 pm

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

    Peng Cheng · March 19, 2019 at 11:51 am

    Hi Jack,
    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 and in relation to our Consultation Service – feel free to contact us if you need advice in relation to your visa options.

Cupid · March 14, 2019 at 6:11 am

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?

    Peng Cheng · March 14, 2019 at 6:22 pm

    Hi Cupid,
    I’d need to have a look to see if there is any relevant information for this situation.
    Please see information in relation to our Consultation Services – feel free to contact us if you need advice.

Anand · March 13, 2019 at 8:39 pm

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.

    Peng Cheng · March 14, 2019 at 6:19 pm

    Hi Anand,
    You need to complete another 2 years of work with the new employer if you change employer and apply under the TRT stream. You may be able to apply for a 482 visa to cover any additional time that you need to complete the required 2 years.

cath · March 7, 2019 at 6:17 pm

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

Connie · March 6, 2019 at 1:43 pm

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?

    Peng Cheng · March 14, 2019 at 4:07 pm

    Hi Connie,
    See above post which has an explanation for the 186. It is unlikely the Department will take action against your partner given the visa was granted in May 2018.

Rhys · March 1, 2019 at 9:25 am

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?

Amy · February 28, 2019 at 10:06 pm

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.

    Peng Cheng · March 5, 2019 at 12:51 pm

    Hi Amy,
    If a 189 or 190 visa are granted this replaces the 457, and you are no longer subject to the 457 visa conditions once this occurs.

Simon Tran · February 28, 2019 at 12:39 pm

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!

    Peng Cheng · March 5, 2019 at 12:52 pm

    Hi Simon,
    If you get a new 457 the Bridging Visa A doesn’t come into effect until the 457 expires. During this time you will be subject to the work conditions of the 457.

Darren · February 6, 2019 at 6:18 pm

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

    Peng Cheng · February 6, 2019 at 7:03 pm

    Hi Darren,
    Voluntarily cancelling the 457 visa will also result in the cancellation of her bridging visa.
    She would become temporarily unlawful and would need to apply for a Bridging visa E – she may be able to get work rights with this BVE, but can’t travel overseas at all.
    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 visa options.

Julian · January 10, 2019 at 10:39 pm

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.

    Peng Cheng · January 17, 2019 at 9:05 pm

    Hi Julian,
    If you have completed your 2 years you are free to do as you choose. You have unrestricted work rights as a 187 visa holder – you can work as a consultant, move interstate and/or out of a regional area.

gabriel · January 8, 2019 at 12:57 pm

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?

    Peng Cheng · January 8, 2019 at 6:43 pm

    Hi Gabriel,
    If the role is made redundant during processing time unfortunately the Department won’t be able to approve the nomination or visa applications.

Ivy · December 17, 2018 at 11:00 pm

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.


    Peng Cheng · December 23, 2018 at 10:35 pm

    Hi Ivy,
    You can travel while your visa is valid but the Department can cancel your visa without notice if you are overseas.

Marlyn · December 4, 2018 at 11:51 pm

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?

    Peng Cheng · December 6, 2018 at 1:30 pm

    Hi Marlyn,
    If you find a new employer, then the employer may be able to lodge a nomination application to transfer your visa to their business.

Dongwi Kang · December 4, 2018 at 11:26 pm

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 ?

    Peng Cheng · December 6, 2018 at 1:30 pm

    Hi Dongwi,
    Leaving the employer may negatively affect your visa application.
    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 visa options.

Denise Bramhall · November 15, 2018 at 9:34 pm

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 🙁

    Peng Cheng · November 19, 2018 at 3:52 pm

    Hi Denise,
    It would be best to contact is if you need consultation and advice in relation to your application. It isn’t really possible to obtain the information/documents that we need, or provide details advice visa these comment fields which are intended for short/specific queries.
    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.

Jan · November 8, 2018 at 11:45 pm

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?

    Peng Cheng · November 9, 2018 at 11:47 am

    Hi Jan,
    Unfortunately you can’t transfer 186 nomination and visa applications to a new sponsor. You will need to re-lodge with a new sponsor, and making sure you meet all the requirements for the visa.

    J kang · November 17, 2018 at 11:21 pm

    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?

      Peng Cheng · November 19, 2018 at 3:51 pm

      Hi J Kang,
      You would only be able to transfer sponsors after your visa application has been approved. Sorry but you can’t link a new nomination application from a different business to an existing visa application.

John Lam · November 8, 2018 at 2:13 pm

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

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

    Hi John,
    You can work on a bridging visa A; you have full work rights. However, moving interstate might call your application and the need for your nominated role into question. I guess this depends on how long you are working for another employer.

Comments are closed.