You’re obviously keen to find an employer / sponsor for a SC457 or to pursue one of the other permanent residence visa options, so its important to be proactive, and to follow the practical steps outlined below:
If you need to do 88 days of regional work (e.g. fruit-picking) to gain your second SC417 don’t ignore that, get it done as soon as possible, because if you’re not compliant you will risk your entire future and any visa application. Also you maybe precluded from making an Australian visa application for 3-years if you receive a PIC4020 (for fraudulently misleading the DIBP).
In a similar vein, never falsify any of your documents as the penalties in terms of receiving a 3-year ban maybe extended to partners/other family members, which will negatively impact their visa application/s.
Where possible, continue your work experience in your chosen trade/occupation whilst you are in Australia. The more local experience and credentials you have in that occupation the better your employability and the stronger will be your future application, however don’t risk a breach of any current visa conditions or the “six month rule” (which precludes you spending more than six months in the employment of any single employer, whilst you’re on your SC417 visa) the penalties are significant and you will jeopardise all future visa applications.
Check whether your occupation is on the current Australian occupation list, which changes periodically as various jobs become in short-supply/demand across Australia. The two main occupation lists are the CSOL or the SOL as these occupation lists determine which visas you may be entitled to make application for.
Get your supporting documents ready – that’s pretty easy, and that way you’ll have certified copies of your qualifications and transcripts – and certified translations of each of those documents if they aren’t in English, when you’re ready to make an application. Make sure that everything is complete and relevant to your nominated occupation, and if you’re not sure seek advice.
If you are going to rely on previous work experience in lieu of qualifications or to accrue points for Skilled Independent migration, make sure you have letters from each of your past employers specifying your dates of employment and the nature of your role/s and responsibilities. You also need to have ready evidence of being paid for that work, such as your payslips, pay summary or historic tax returns. Remember too that you must have payslips for your Australian regional work from 31 August 2015.
If you are a licensed tradesperson e.g. carpenter, RACE (refrigeration) trade, or you’re a plumber, nurse etc make sure you work towards getting the relevant Australian licence or registration, because if you don’t have the relevant licence at time of application, you can’t be granted an Employer Nominated Visa (SC186) or a Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (SC187) visa. Also DIBP don’t recognise Australian work experience where you don’t have the relevant licence.
Licensing is not important for a Skilled Visa so if you’re thinking about applying for Skilled Independent permanent residence or direct entry (Employer Nominated) permanent residency – you’ll need to have a positive skills assessment for your profession/occupation. Skills assessments are conducted by the Australian industry bodies/professional associations for your profession, and responses can take up to 12 weeks, so do that early, not a month before your SC417 expires.
If you think an employer sponsored visa is a preferred option, ask your employer if they would be willing to assist, they might fortuitously even have a current SBS in place? Also if they’re agreeable the Department may waive the “six month rule”, which would allow you to work continuously and beyond the typical 6-month cut-off.
If you don’t come from a country/have a passport which is English exempt (e.g. England) or you might need the extra points a good English test result will provide, please carefully prepare and take the IELTS or TOEFL English language tests, as a sound mark could make just the difference for a successful application. You may also need to sit the test on more than one occasion to get the desired score, as the lowest score in one of the 4-categories (reading, writing, speaking, listening) is critical.