400 Subclass Visa: When is it NOT a good idea?

Are you considering the 400 Subclass Visa? Here’s a piece of advice.

I am not an immigration agent, but as Relocation Director of 14 years, I am the step after your visa, the moving-and-settling-into-Australia step. I am the one picking up the pieces and putting you all back together. 

My motivation for this post is because I have clients in tears.  The turmoil we find ourselves in is one where the delay in visa processing times is causing both corporates and migrants to try to find other ways to get to Australia quicker, with some devastating results.

Imagine being a vulnerable young family looking for the best future for your children currently based in a country where basic necessities are hard to come by. Your safety is at risk every day and the universities are burning your children’s future.

Now take the position of a typical corporate in Australia who have won a huge tender but they need skills and hands now.  All trades, boilermakers, plumbers, and metal welders are needed in Australia. There will be penalties if the corporate doesn’t deliver to the tender deadlines. There is no local talent and even if there was, the local talent is expensive. So where does the typical Aussie look for more talent? Off the big island!

What offshore options are there and how can the tradies get here quickly?

Enter an immigration company with a recruitment team who is scouring the globe to find critical skills.

The corporate has a buoy, and the recruitment and immigration team has the lifeline to throw to the vulnerable, highly skilled employee: the 400 Subclass Visa.

But this lifeline is not infinite. You need to grab it now or it’s gone because the corporate can’t wait.

The thing is the lifeline is also unravelling and could snap. It is not a strong line because the 400 Subclass Visa, although can be processed in 10 days, is only for 3 months.

The promise from the distant land is that they will process a longer visa when onshore – but will they? 

“It could be tough for a few months but then the future is bright for our children,” the family says. “We may never get another chance.”

So they jump the buoy, praying so hard, the rope does not unravel. There is no time to check the line or pull in any slack in the fine print.

Here's where it gets complicated

Processing times for visas are currently taking much longer than expected. Be it an overflow from Covid, change in Government–whatever the reasons, the delays have a ripple effect on families, businesses and immigration as a whole. 

While corporates and immigration companies are having to invent ways to circumnavigate the problem, the vulnerable skilled migrant accepting a job offer on a 400 Subclass Visa, with the promise of lodging a 482 is becoming more commonplace. Desperate measures all around. 

Who is to blame when things go wrong? Is the government causing the problem with their backlog? 

Some would say it lies with the migrant. They accepted the offer. 

But should that offer be on the table in the first place?  Why are the 482 and 400 Subclass Visa not lodged at the same time? It is possible anyway!

From families we have spoke with, there  was very little “duty of care” from the immigration company in informing the migrant of the visa restrictions, which include ineligibility for:

  • Medicare
  • free schooling (for the kids)
  • their spouse to work

Further, given that the corporate is throwing the migrant such a wonderful lifeline for their children’s future, the employment contract will include costs ONLY for the employee–no family visa costs, flight or accommodation support.  

Is this how we Australians on board employees?  Not usually in my experience.

So all you prospective migrants who might read this, please have it clear in your mind you will:

  • Pay for all medical expenses which are an obligation of your visa
  • Pay for education (in ALL States and Territories) because your children will be international students and the enrolment process is much longer.
  • Not be allowed to continue your dual income, only the Visa holder can work
  • In most instances, you will pay for your family’s visa, as well as any additional visas that might be required because the 482 processing times are extended.

Sadly, for most, It is usually a case of “please find a rental home and report for work on Monday morning at this address.”

The whole situation leaves me feeling quite angry.  The families I have spoken to knew it was a risk, but none knew the financial implications. “It all happened so quickly” they tell me. 

Relocation can be a type of trauma that not many people anticipate, this situation is making it so much worse for many.

One family arrived in Australia, only to be told the “business has been sold, you will have to move interstate to Adelaide to keep your job.”  Another has been waiting for three weeks now for the Corporate to even lodge their 482. They keep being told “Next week, Mate. Sorry I’ve just been so busy.” 

400 Subclass Visa: Who is it for?

If you are reading this and you are considering accepting a role on a 400 Subclass Visa, please take just one more week to do more research. The 400 Subclass Visa is best kept for inter-company transfers in my opinion–not for new roles. Know what you are up against and get everything in writing, with timelines. For example, “The Corporate will lodge the 482 visas within 7 days of my arrival” or better still, the 482 and 400 Subclass Visa will be lodged simultaneously.

Please don’t underestimate the cost of living in Australia. I know the families I work with have saved their life earnings to come here, with a single income. Your Ringette, Rands or Peso won’t go far when there are unexpected surprises.

Personnel Relocations works closely with a few incredible immigration agents. Let us know if you’d like us to send you the list.

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