If you’re planning on migrating to Australia, taking your business with you is a big step. When entering a new market, you may want to have your key employees with you as support. However, to bring your employees to Australia, you need to ensure that they have appropriate work visas. There are three types of visas that may be available to you and your employees. These are the:

  • temporary skill shortage (TSS) visa;
  • employer nomination scheme (ENS); and
  • regional sponsored skilled migration scheme (RSMS).

This article will go through the requirements of each of these different schemes so that you can legally bring your employees to Australia.

Temporary Skill Shortage Visa  

The TSS visa is a temporary visa which permits the holder to live in Australia while working full-time for you in a nominated position. Furthermore, TSS visa applicants may also include dependent family members in their application.

The TSS visa has a short-term stream and a medium and long-term stream. Applicants with occupations listed on the short-term skilled occupations list (STSOL) are eligible for visas of up to two years. However, this can be renewed once for a further two years. Applicants with occupations listed on the medium and long-term strategic skills list (MLTSSL) can apply for a visa that lasts for up to four years. They will have eligibility to become a permanent resident after three years.

There are three steps to apply for a TSS visa:

1. Business Sponsorship

Your first step as an employer is to apply to be an approved standard business sponsor (SBS). However, if you intend to sponsor a lot of foreign workers, you should apply to be an accredited business sponsor (ABS). This option offers priority processing. You can also be an overseas business sponsor (OBS) if you don’t have a legally established entity in Australia.

There are a number of general requirements that your business needs to demonstrate that you are:

  • legally established;
  • of good financial standing; and
  • complying with Australian laws (if OBS, the relevant laws in your country).

You can demonstrate the above by providing the following to the Department of Home Affairs:

  • Australian business number, Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) records and registered business name;
  • details of your company structure, e.g. trust, incorporated association, unincorporated association;
  • business activity statements, financial records and business bank statements;
  • employee records, payroll, employment contracts, workplace policies; and
  • annual reports. 

If successful, the sponsorship approval is valid for up to five years for SBS and OBS. However, for ABS, sponsorship approval is valid for up to six years.

2. Nomination

The next step is to nominate a position within your business to fill and the person you wish to fill it. The business needs to:

  • select an occupation under the combined occupation list;
  • conduct labour market testing;
  • nominate a position that is genuine;
  • pay the nomination training contribution charge; and
  • pay income in line with the temporary skilled migration income threshold.

3. Visa Application

Finally, the sponsored employee needs to apply for the nominated visa in Australia. The employee must meet certain eligibility criteria, including that they:

  • have a minimum of two years experience in a nominated occupation;
  • complete a skills assessment with a relevant skills assessing authority;
  • demonstrate that they are a genuine temporary entrant for occupations under the STSOL;
  • English competency; and
  • health and character requirements.

The visa is valid for up to four years with extensions under certain conditions.

Employer Nomination Scheme Visa

The ENS visa is a permanent visa that allows sponsored employees to work in Australia for an approved business sponsor and nominated position. Upon meeting certain conditions, TSS visa holders can apply for this visa as a pathway to permanent residency. There are only two stages involved to obtain the ENS visa;

  • nomination of the business position to fill; and
  • the visa application.

The criteria and process for nomination and visa application stages are similar to the TSS visa. However, there are three different application pathways to the ENS for sponsored employees:

1. Temporary Residence Transition

Employees who have been on a temporary work (skilled) visa for at least two years or a TSS visa for at least three years with the same employer can apply for an ENS visa. They are not required to complete a skills assessment.

2. Direct Entry Stream

To apply via the direct entry stream, the employee will need to satisfy skills competencies and demonstrate that they have been in the relevant occupation for at least three years.

3. Agreement Stream

ENS visa applicants can also apply via the agreement stream or labour agreement with you, the employer.

Regional Sponsored Skilled Migration Scheme Visa

The RSMS is a permanent visa that allows sponsored employees to work in regional areas within Australia. For an employee to apply, the:

  • position needs to be approved by a regional certifying body;
  • business needs to nominate a position; and
  • employee needs to satisfy certain eligibility requirements.

The three pathways to obtain an RSMS visa are virtually identical to the ENS and are either via:

  • a temporary residence transition;
  • direct entry; or
  • a labour agreement.

Key Takeaways

If you are a business owner wanting to migrate to Australia, there are several ways that you can bring your employees with you. Each of the visas available to your employees relies on your business being an accredited sponsor. In addition to that, your employees must also be able to meet their personal requirements for the visa application. If you have any questions about bringing your employees to Australia, contact LegalVision’s immigration lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

Natasha Bahari
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