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Is it possible to come to Australia on an eVisitor (Subclass 651) visa for job and sponsor hunting, and then apply and be granted a 457 visa without leaving the territory? Apparently, people used to do that with the Visitor (Subclass 676) visa, which required people to leave the country (for instance, going to New Zealand) to lodge their 457 application from abroad.

If not, what are the cheapest and easiest ways to go sponsor hunting for a 457 visa?

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From what I can find, yes, you can apply for a 457 while in Australia. Depending on the time it might take, you could try for a BVC, a bridging visa, which would allow you to remain while the application for the 457 is ongoing. The BVC page does say that you might be automatically given a BVC as part of an application for a substantive visa (which I assume a 457 is).

Note: It looks like you can enter your skills information into SkillSelect which allows employers with sponsorship approval check out your resume.

Update based on Virgil Spruit's answer:

Some Australia visas have an 8503 clause which you agree to 'No further stay' after the visa expires. In particular, visitor visas that are sponsored (by family or others) usually have this restriction. If you waive (refuse to sign) the 8503, and then extend or change your visa, you may cause problems for your sponsor. Information here

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I found this answer in a comment on this blog.

Seems like it's not possible to go from a 651 to a 457 visa ...

When you do get your tourist visa you will need to be sure to waive Condition 8503. Condition 8503 states “The holder will not, after entering Australia, be entitled to be granted a substantive visa, other than a protection visa, while the holder remains in Australia”. Fact Sheet 52b on the Immigration Website has all the details of Condition 8503.

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    That was a great find! Your answer would be even stronger if you included a link or official statements from Australian immigration. – mkennedy Aug 4 '15 at 17:34
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    Since you quote the answer from a blog comment, you should link to that blog comment as the source. – drat Aug 5 '15 at 8:07
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Just quoting the IMMI Gov doc for 457 visa application:

Limitations on visa applications

If you are in Australia, you may be prevented from making an application if you do not hold a substantive visa (which is any visa other than a bridging visa, a criminal justice visa or an enforcement visa) and the last substantive visa held by you was a subclass 771 (Transit) visa or a special purpose visa.

In these cases the department can provide you with information about any visas you may apply for.

You would need to apply for the correct bridging visa. (BVB is the best in this case, as it will let you get back in and out of the country if need be.)

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