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My fellow South Africans, learn to flip burgers

South Africans desperate to emigrate to Australia will be excited to learn that McDonalds and KFC are so desperate for staff that they are willing to issue 457 skilled immigrant visas to burger flippers.

Granted, you will have to move to a mining town in the middle of nowhere. But it is a foot in the door, right? Low unemployment rates and the resources boom has meant that it is proving difficult to find workers willing work for lower salaries than they could find in the mining industry.

The number 457 is one with which South Africans looking to leave are only too familiar. Visa subclass 457 is the employer sponsored work visa that offers a gateway to many immigrants looking for eventual permanent residence. Because an immigrant on a 457 is effectively beholden to the employer who sponsored the visa, the scheme has led to concerns about worker exploitation.

If your occupation is on the Migration Occupations in Demand List you stand a better chance of getting into Australia. Encouragingly, Australia is keen on cooks, boilermakers and bricklayers as well as architects, accountants and engineers. Lift mechanics, tree surgeons and drainers are also prized.

Which means that even if you didn’t train as an accountant — which in South Africa means that you get to own fat piles of cash telling your employers what to do with theirs — somebody, somewhere, wants to hire you.


  • During the day Sarah Britten is a communication strategist; by night she writes books and blog entries. And sometimes paints. With lipstick. It helps to have insomnia.


  1. JLA JLA 26 June 2008

    Maybe someone should tell the Zimbos the good news if they want to move on from SA! Ironic, is it not?

  2. Mark Mark 26 June 2008


  3. Scarface Scarface 26 June 2008

    My wife is an Engineer and already has a job offer under the 457 sub class. Are there any cons going over on this VISA?

    What I am trying to find out is if it is better to apply for a skilled migration visa rather or at the same time?

    Anyone, anyone!

  4. Wayne Harrison Wayne Harrison 26 June 2008

    “Granted, you will have to move to a mining town in the middle of nowhere.”
    McDonald’s Queensland regional manager Andrew Gregory claims a lack of local staff has led to the company searching overseas for managers to work at their Mackay and Mt Isa outlets.
    It is understood KFC has also used the program to fill vacancies, with five recruits from the Philippines to help deal with the staff shortfall in some of their regional Queensland locations.
    You could call Mount Isa a mining town but Mackay is different.
    In regional areas, the Minimum Salary Level will rise to $39,100 (from $37,665) and $53,530 (from $51,570) for ICT.
    professionals plus 9% Superannuation.

  5. Sarah Britten Sarah Britten Post author | 27 June 2008

    The only con I know of who went over was Mo Shaik…

  6. jay jay 27 June 2008

    @ scarface

    There are many anecdotal examples of exploitation of workers under the so called 475 visa scheme and a few come to mind of late – however you might have an advantage because you speak English – albeit with a funny accent.

    However, what class of engineer is your wife – and how long have you got to decide?

  7. Recruitment Girl Recruitment Girl 1 July 2008

    Is this for real???? I don’t think for me personally I would pack up to move to greener grasses to flip burgers, I would rather sick it out in South Africa thank you very much.

  8. Aqua Aqua 24 July 2008

    I have noticed you mentioned the low paying jobs first. Are South Africans unworthy of having the same status as you that you must first inform them of the low level jobs then move onto the others as a by the way moment? Do you want to gloat over them and be the upper class?

    Your article just sounds like that is the whole aim, otherwise I dont see the point!

  9. Scarface Scarface 24 July 2008


    My wife is a Mechanical Engineer. As her employer is paying for the relocation and things like a car for 90 days etc., I don’t think their intentions are of an ill-nature. It would seem counter-productive to spend so much effort & money to get someone over there and then exploit them?

    Anyway, I will try and find work as soon as possible when we arrive there or even start something. Looking forward to the loss of a comfort zone !

  10. Gary Gary 7 August 2008

    If the company is willing to pay relocation etc..then go for it. I had a similiar offer 7 years ago when I moved to Ireland. Flights, Relo, car and house for 3 months plus a startup bonus. Needless to say I’m still with the company. I don’t think all the companies are out to get you. Coming from South Africa one can’t help being suspicious all the time(Its the way people are raised in SA).

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