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Our 457 horror story...


wislon
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I decided to post this personal account, it might help someone or serve as a warning as to what to look out for.

A bit of background: We started our 136/PR application in 2005, knowing full well it was going take at least 18 months (it's taken far, far longer than that, but that's another story). We went to a seminar that the WA government was giving here in CT last year (we thought they might actually be recruiting, but it was just a seminar), trying to get SA people to move to Perth and surrounds. Because of the length of time we've spent, and all the hurry up and wait, we chatted to one of the WA government guys afterwards, trying to find out if there was some way of speeding the process up. He suggested going over on a 457 vis, and then just letting the 136 come through when it was ready. Now we'd been told we weren't allowed to apply for more than one visa at a time, so this was a bit of an eye opener for us.

After some persistent prodding and poking from my fiance ('Pofstert' - bless her, where we are now is all to her credit!) I got my CV cleaned up and Australianised, and started doing some serious poking around on seek.com and other job sites. I must have fired my resume and covering letter off to well over a hundred employment agencies and companies. I think I got about 3 responses overall, of the "please contact us when you get here" variety.

This wasn't working...

After more persistent prodding and poking, I was getting out of bed at 4am (time zones, how I hate them) to call recruitment agencies and companies which I found on seek and gurus.com.au that were looking for a developer/business analyst/project manager. I would start phoning in Melbourne and finish in Perth, calling about 6-7 places, chatting with them, finding out what the options were and so on. I was amazed at how helpful and nice and willing to help these people were. All of them asked me to send on my resume. So I'd send along a personalised covering letter, usually just addressed to the person I'd just spoken to, and almost without fail, just about every single one of them got back to me within the hour, to say thanks, you're in our database, we don't have anything right now, we'll look, etc.

The nice thing about this method is that it gave me personal email addresses to work with, rather than a dehumanised "jobs@" or "careers@".

I kept notes about who I'd spoken to, when, what their responses were etc. (thank goodness, this stood me in good stead later!).

In terms of feedback and response and knowing that a real live person has actually seen your CV and read your letter, it was phenomenal, and I can't understate the importance of actually doing the calling, instead of just shotgunning your CV to all and sundry.

Unfortunately, even tho I was getting about a 95% response rate, about 90% of those were still "well, we'd love to interview you, are you going to be in Australia at all soon?". A slight variation on "please contact us when you get here".

A third batch of persistent prodding and poking ensued, and before I knew it, I was dotting the i's and crossing the t's on a holiday/short stay visa application for two weeks in November 2007. Got that after about two weeks, and then gehoes en betaal for a plane ticket (just before tourist season really got underway, thank goodness!)

I contacted the companies and agencies I'd had the most positive feedback from (Melbourne and Perth where we were aiming to live), and told them I'd be over there in late November, and would they be interested in interviews. All of them said yes, definitely, and it got to the point where I actually had to pick and choose which ones I wanted to visit. I'd ended up making my trip too short (two weeks was all I could get off work)! I basically organised for one interview per day in Melbourne, with a day or so left over for followups if necessary. Ditto for Perth, tho there were fewer opportunities there. Honestly, I didn't hit Perth that hard because I really wanted to go to Melbourne, and there were way more job ads coming out of Melbourne anyway, statistically my chances were better there.

One of the companies in Melbourne I re-contacted said they were pretty much ready to hire me immediately (subject to the interview going ok), and since it was a company that did exactly what I do here in SA, I made this my 'Primary' company, the one I was aiming to work for.

Little did I know...

The day I was due to get on the plane to fly to Oz, I got a phone call out of the blue, on my cellphone from a chap in Brisbane, wanting to know if Brisbane was on my itinerary, and if so, please could I come and see them. He was very keen, had a saffer with him who was selling Oz (and specifically Brisbane) to me. Unfortunately I had to turn him down because there was no way at that late stage to organise a trip to Brisbane, and wouldn't have had a chance to discuss a possible move to Brisbane with my fiance. I told him I was sorry, but that if everything fell through, I'd probably contact him again. As I hung up it occurred to me that I may be kicking myself later for doing that. More bird-in-hand cliches apply here.

So I went to Melbourne, had a couple of interviews that went OK. It was all good practice, but I could tell that I wasn't quite what they were looking for. They were all very positive and encouraging though. At this point, it was still OK, I had yet to meet with my Primary Company.

So, the day came with the PC, I met with the MD (Tom)* and business development manager (Jerry)*. Really nice guys, we had a long chat, they took me to lunch, I met their head devs (both immigrants) who grilled me, and generally a good time was had by all. A day later I got a phone call asking me if I could come in and sign a job contract!

I was thrilled! Relieved! Over the moon! My fiance was too. This was exactly what we'd been looking for! The salary was a bit on the low side, but I figured I could fix that with a few months hard work. I was to actually work in Adelaide, on a new system they were starting up, and they were looking for someone to help run the show there. It was perfect!

I asked the guy I was staying with to check out the Ts&Cs of the contract, and he raised his eyebrow at a couple of the conditions (they wanted me to pay for my own training, and a couple of other little things that were a bit dodgy in retrospect, but he said he thought it looked ok to start off with, the important thing being I could re-negotiate after a 3 month probation period). I was OK with that, so I signed it a couple of days later, and sent the signature page of the contract back. I thought it was a done deal. Tom and Jerry were pestering me to confirm how committed I was to this project. They were so happy I'd signed. I was just what they were looking for, etc.

Since I still had a couple of days left in Melbourne, and a week left in Perth, and out of respect for the people I'd spoken to, I went to the rest of the interviews and gave them my best shot (because now I had nothing to lose). They were positive, and a lot were very encouraging, telling me that tho they didn't have a position right then to sponsor me for, I should definitely keep them posted as to my 136 visa progress, and to absolutely call them when we landed in Oz (on the PR visa). It was a little discouraging after all the effort I'd gone to, to chase people down, and set up the interviews, but they were so nice and helpful and positive and encouraging that I can't fault any one of them.

This was OK though, I had a job with the Primary Company, I could relax. Before I left Perth, I contacted them one last time to thank them and confirm everything, and told them I looked forward to hearing how their part of the 457 application was going. They told me it wasn't something they usually did, but they wanted me to work for them so badly that they were getting an agency to sort it all out for them. First warning I missed: all their devs were migrants. How was my application going to be much different from theirs?

I called them again a few days just before Xmas, when they closed, just to touch base and so on. They assured me everything was ticking along nicely, it was all in the pipeline, but warned me that because Xmas was coming up, it would probably take a couple of weeks to get the TRN and everything. This should have rung some alarm bells, but it didn't. I trusted them, they appeared to be a nice bunch of people, why would they lie? Second warning I missed: once they start your application, the TRN is given as soon as they start the process and make their initial payment.

Getting back in the new year, I called them back a day or so after they opened, to touch base again and find out how things were going. I was assured everything was going strong! The TRN was imminent! They were just sorting out a couple of legal issues. We would be there in February or March at the latest, no worries mate! Please could they have some references though, preferably people I'd worked for and customers, this was the only thing really holding up their side of things. No problem, I sent them references aplenty. Another warning: from what I can gather, usually they won't send you a job contract until they've contacted at least one of your references.

My fiance went ahead and gave her notice, she had a month or two's grace because they needed her, and we started getting quotes for a container, cancelling aspects of things like medical aid, basically getting in relocation mode.

Days went by, each one came and went with no TRN. We started getting suspicious, and then it all started to go downhill. By the third week in January, Tom (the guy in charge of sorting out our visa application at their end) started to become more and more scarce. Phone calls went unreturned, emails were either ignored or not responded to. Phone messages were somehow never delivered or were never seen.

The more we chased, the more he was "unavailable". So I chased down Jerry, and he disavowed any knowledge of how the visa process was going. He only knew that Tom was apparently still busy with it. I contacted a couple of people who had given me permission to use their details for references. They hadn't heard anything from these guys. More alarm bells.

You'd have thought I'd have got it through my head by now... :)

My fiance started to panic a bit (as did I). She'd resigned, and I was one step away from doing so myself. Jerry promised to get Tom to call me, but the call never came. I got hold of him again, told him that my fiance had resigned, I was about to do the same, we had to give notice at our rented house, we'd told everyone we were going, please could he tell me wtf was going on, this was affecting our day-to-day lives in a BIG way.

And out of the blue a couple of nights later, I got an sms from Tom: please could we chat about the visa? I organised for me to call him at their offices at about 1am my time (about 10 minutes later, I was asleep in bed at the time). I called him, and he we had a long chat about various aspects of the visa application that were giving him trouble.

The whole frikkin house of cards came tumbling down:

1. He was worried about the fact that the visa was for four years. Eh? I thought that was the point! I thought I was going to be working for you guys for an extended period of time, maybe even longer than 4 years? They'd made me understand that this was a company I wanted to have a career with. It was a permanent position! What had they been planning to do with me when the Adelaide project was done and dusted?

2. He was worried about a certain bit of legislation that had just come in about their obligations for covering our medical care. Um, afaik that wasn't that recent, and this is supposed to be a given, but if it makes you feel any better, you don't have to worry about it. Having already applied for our PR visa, we can apply to go on our own Medicare as soon as we land. And surely, as an employee of the company and an investment, surely you'd want to recover some of your investment if it was hit by a bus?

3. He was worried about certain deductions dropping my salary below what was now a legislated minimum. What deductions? So pay me more! Ha ha, how we laughed and laughed! Seriously though, they're a small company, they may not actually be able to afford me with this new legislation. OK, thoughts of renegotiating salaries are now going out the window...

4. They were going to have to sponsor and find work for and medically cover my fiance as well. Eh? No you don't. You are sponsoring me, and she will sort herself out when she gets there, she has the automatic right to work as my "spouse".

5. Well what about the cost of the visa, it's going to come close to $10,000 if we sponsor her? Again, she's my spouse and not a dependent. Afaik that's for kids under 18 or other dependents. It doesn't apply in our case?

6. What about the cost of the plane tickets, having to fork out a couple of thousand dollars per personis quite expensive! Ok, you're reaching now, you know I said we'd cover those costs ourselves. How about you just tell me you don't want to sponsor us?

I basically told him he needed to speak to someone who knew a bit more about the process, since someone had either been lying to him or had spun him a fast one about how tough it was to sort out a migrant 457 visa. He agreed, and said he would get back to me. Yeah right. Like all the other times you were "gonna get back to me".

At this point I wasn't going to give them an out. I wasn't just going to let it slide. I wanted them to come to terms with it on their own and tell me to my face that they were going to cancel.

But at that point I knew that they were going to bail out on us. This after demanding to know how committed I was to moving to Adelaide and setting up shop there for them. I'd asked them the same thing, and Tom had said they were 100% committed to getting us there. The above conversation didn't sound anything like 100% commitment to me...

A couple of days later, I got an email saying they were very sorry, but they couldn't see a way forward to sponsoring us. :ilikeit:

We were both pretty sour and despondent by then, I'd grown used to the idea of having a job as soon as I arrived, my fiance had been skyping up a storm with one of her friends who had emigrated to Adelaide about a year ago, who was thrilled that we'd be going there too.

Man, it was disappointment all around!

But after a couple of days of cooling off, we went back and re-examined some of the behaviour, and problems these guys at the PC had "run into". In retrospect, their bailing on us was probably the best thing that could have happened. We started putting two and two together, and realised that most of the "problems" they'd mentioned were directly related to some recent legislation that prevented the exploitation of migrant workers. Their policies on training (for instance), where I would have had to owe them the cost, would have meant that I could potentially be beholden to them for a long time if they sent me on a $10,000 training course. And no one can tell me that Microsoft training courses are cheap! I would, in effect, have to buy my way out of the company if I wanted to leave (given that semi-regular courses on new tech are basically a necessity in my line of work, if I want to stay current).

But, there was nothing more to do except get right back on the horse. And so I did. I contacted a number of the recruitment agencies to let them know I was back on the market, contacted a couple of new ones that were mentioned here on this forum, and dropped a couple of emails to a guy who had been immeasurably helpful in setting me up with some cold-call interviews in Perth. I was back to square 1.5.

I also immediately contacted the chap who had phoned me from Brisbane, to tell him that I was kicking myself and would they be willing to reconsider me for a 457 visa? He said he was definitely interested, he just wanted to get hold of a technical guy to grill me properly and that they'd call me early the following week. That was two weeks ago.

At which point I came across martyn's post, and went to apply there too (thinking that the link looked suspiciously familiar) and realised it was the same company! :)

Since then they have called me, interviewed me (over two periods, thanks Eskom for shutting off our power and killing our PABX), sent me a work contract to sign (which has no problems with medical, gives me a salary that is way more market related and has no problem with me working for them for at least 4 years, and hopefully longer if I want to), and just this morning sent me the reference number for our part of the 457 visa! All in the space of about 2 weeks!

We're so thrilled that the ball is rolling once again! :ilikeit:

Viewed fatalistically, the first 457 I was offered was obviously not to be. My advice to anyone out there who is as desperate as I was to get the 457, having sunk that much time and money into getting one: Be careful what you wish for. Look before you leap. Go in there with your eyes open. There's a hundred cliches that fit.

There's a 457 visa frequently asked questions (FAQ) which I got from elsewhere on this forum, and I've attached it to this post (coz I suspect there's no way I could find it again :blush: )

Know your rights, know the legislation (check the DIAC website once a month for changes) and if in doubt, ASK!

We have a wealth of experience available at our fingertips with this forum. :ilikeit:

It seems no matter what problem I have, there's always someone else on here who has experienced it, and oftentimes worse. I've learned more from this place in less time than I think I could have from just surfing the internet and pestering our agents.

Thanks guys and gals of this forum, you rock. We owe you big! :ilikeit:

*Names have been changed

FAQ_457_visa_holders.pdf

Edited by wislon
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So,.......Brissie came thru!!!

Wislon I'm so sorry you had to do this whole trip (emotional) and go thru the whole experience, but as they say it was worth it in the end.

One thing I do appreciate about the Australian gov. is that they look after EVERYBODY even immigrants! Yes there's stacks of legislation and rules etc. but that's what makes it work!!

Good luck on this 457 may it SPEEEEEEEDD ahead!!

Cya

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So,.......Brissie came thru!!!

Wislon I'm so sorry you had to do this whole trip (emotional) and go thru the whole experience, but as they say it was worth it in the end.

One thing I do appreciate about the Australian gov. is that they look after EVERYBODY even immigrants! Yes there's stacks of legislation and rules etc. but that's what makes it work!!

Good luck on this 457 may it SPEEEEEEEDD ahead!!

Cya

Thanks Nilo. And each day I get more sure that the first one wasn't meant to be, and that it may actually have been a blessing in disguise...

And I am 100% sure we'll be giving you guys a shout when we get to Brisbane... so much research to do still! :rolleyes:

Edited by wislon
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Hey Wislon

Thanks for sharing your story. I'm pretty sure your advice will prevent someone else from falling into the same pit.

We are also hopefully headed to Queensland (gold coast) so may just meet up sometime with you too.

We await our 138 PR visa.

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Hi Wislon, so sorry to hear what you and Pofstert have been through. It must have been so emotionally draining!

You're quite right though, the firstone probably wasn't meant to be, and you not getting it was definitely a blessing in disguise by the sounds of things!

Goes to show, the "dodgy" characters are everywhere. :ilikeit:

Not to be biased, i believe you're definitely heading to THE best state. :rolleyes:

Good Luck

Noddy

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Shoo what a story I am glad though it is working out for you now. I think the message to all though when making such a huge decision is to make sure you have researched as much as possible. This applies to visa types, moving companies, states everything.

I don't the company intentionally went out to mess you around I think they just didn't have a clue. I am glad you had done your homework and didn't land in more hot water and out of pocket. I would suggest that when people start applying for positions they should have already investigated the 457 visa and the employers and employees obligations and costs involved, that way when a company comes back to you, you should have a vague idea of whether they know what they are doing.

I have noticed that there is a whole ton of forumites who have been getting really shodding service from one of the agents in SA. The same company has been discussed many a time and I think that one should read up and know your timelines and expectations so that you know when they are messing you around, being lazy or actually have your best interests at heart.

They say Knowledge is power and I think when immigrating this is more important than one will every know.

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sa2oz: you're right on the money. it's always one of those "if we'd know then what we know now" situations. but you're right, knowledge is power. I don't think they set out to deliberately screw us over, and I don't count the trip to Oz as a waste (I got so much more out of it, I'd do it again in a heartbeat even if I knew how it would turn out), but yeah, one just has to be careful and keep the eyes open.

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Really sorry to hear about this - must have been a real roller coaster ride.

Thanks for posting though .. this kind of information is power!

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Good luck with everything further Wislon! Sorry about that bad experience but the bad ones makes us stronger and wiser :blush:

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