As an employer, it is important to hire the right people for your business. However, it may not always be possible to do so from within the Australian labour market. As a result, many Australian employers decide to hire skilled overseas workers under the temporary skill shortage visa (subclass 482) (TSS visa). To do so, you must apply to become a standard business sponsor (SBS). However, if you have a large business and an ongoing need to hire overseas workers, you may need to apply for sponsorship accreditation.

One of the main benefits of accredited status is that you receive priority processing for all TSS nominations and visa applications. This article will consider the key eligibility requirements for sponsorship accreditation.

What Are the Benefits of Sponsorship Accreditation?

Under the TSS visa, you can sponsor a skilled overseas worker to fill a position if you cannot find an appropriately skilled Australian to do so. Being an accredited sponsor means that your TSS nominations and visa applications are given preference by the Department of Home Affairs. This means that your applications will receive priority and are usually processed in less than five days. By contrast, most nominations submitted by standard sponsors are processed within 54 days, and visa applications within 57 (short-term stream) or 67 days (medium and long-term stream).

As an accredited sponsor, you also receive other benefits. For example:

  • you will face more relaxed labour market testing requirements, meaning it is easier to prove that you cannot find an Australian worker to fill the position; and
  • applicants who are sponsored by accredited sponsors do not need to provide police certificates for every country they have resided in if the business can attest to their good character. This can significantly reduce the processing time.

Ensure You Are an Approved SBS or Meet the SBS Requirements

To be eligible to become an accredited sponsor, you must be an approved SBS or demonstrate that you meet the requirements of an SBS. There are two key requirements to become an SBS.

1. You Must Have a Lawfully and Currently Operating Business

To demonstrate this requirement, you will need to provide documents such as your:

  • Australian Business Number (ABN) registration certificate;
  • Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) company extract;
  • audited balance sheet;
  • profit and loss statement; and
  • business tax return.

If you are a startup business (i.e. you have been trading for less than 12 months), you will need to provide additional documents to demonstrate that your business is financially viable and will be able to support the employment of overseas workers.

If you have an overseas business, you must prove that you are bringing the visa applicant to Australia to: 

  • establish a business operation (e.g. to set up an Australian branch); or 
  • fulfil contractual obligations.

2. There Must Not Be Any Adverse Information Known About Your Business

If the Department of Home Affairs is aware of any adverse information about you or any of your associates, you may be refused to become an SBS.

Examples of adverse information may include if your business:

  • has contravened any national or state law;
  • has any pending investigations or disciplinary actions;
  • is insolvent; or
  • has previously provided false or misleading information to the Department of Home Affairs.

Further Requirements for Australian Businesses

If your business is based in Australia, you must also declare that you have a commitment to employing local labour and that you will not engage in any discriminatory recruitment procedures.

Ensure You Meet the Characteristics for One of the Five Categories

In addition to the SBS requirements, you must meet the characteristics of one of the five categories described below.

Category 1: Commonwealth, State and Territory Government Agencies

To meet the requirements of this category, you should have:

  • a workforce in Australia made up of at least 75% of Australian workers.

Category 2: Australian Trusted Traders

To meet the requirements of this category, you should have:

  • a workforce in Australia made up of at least 75% of Australian workers;
  • a written employment contract for all TSS visa holders that meets the National Employment Standards (NES); and
  • paid all Australian employees according to an Enterprise Agreement or an internal salary table that reflects the current market salary rates for all occupations in your business.

Category 3: Low Volume Usage and High Percentage of Australian Workers (At Least 85%)

To meet the requirements of this category, you should have:

  • a workforce in Australia made up of at least 85% of Australian workers;
  • had at least one nomination for a TSS visa holder approved in the last year;
  • more than 97% of your nomination applications approved in the last year;
  • a business structure other than sole trader or partnership;
  • an annual turnover of at least AUD4M for the last two years;
  • been an SBS for at least one year;
  • complied with all of your sponsor obligations;
  • paid all Australian employees according to an Enterprise Agreement or an internal salary table that reflects the current market salary rate; and
  • a written employment contract for all TSS visa holders that meets the NES.

Category 4: High Volume Usage and Medium Percentage of Australian Workers (At Least 75%)

To meet the requirements of this category, you should have:

  • a workforce in Australia made up of at least 75% of Australian workers;
  • had at least 10 TSS visa holders’ nominations approved in the last two years;
  • had more than 97% of your nomination applications approved in the last two years;
  • a business structure other than sole trader or partnership;
  • an annual turnover of at least AUD4M for the last two years;
  • been an SBS for at least two years;
  • complied with all of your sponsor obligations;
  • paid all Australian employees according to an Enterprise Agreement or an internal salary table that reflects the current market salary rate; and
  • a written employment contract for all TSS visa holders that meet the NES.

Category 5: Major Investment in Australia

To meet the requirements of this category, you should have:

  • made a major investment in Australia (at least AUD50M) which has directly generated Australian employment;
  • a business structure other than sole trader or partnership;
  • been an SBS for at least one year;
  • at least one nomination for a primary TSS visa holder approved in the last year;
  • more than 97% of your nomination applications approved in the last year;
  • no adverse monitoring outcomes;
  • paid all Australian employees according to an Enterprise Agreement or an internal salary table that reflects the current market salary rates; and
  • a written employment contract for all TSS visa holders that meets the NES (where applicable).

For startup businesses who do not fall into one of these categories, the Department of Home Affairs may approve an application for accredited status in special circumstances (e.g. if you are part of a government entrepreneurship program).

Sponsorship Obligations

It is also important to be aware that as a business sponsor, you must comply with certain obligations imposed by the Department of Home Affairs. These obligations are aimed to protect overseas workers from exploitation and to ensure that the visa program is used correctly. These sponsorship obligations include, but are not limited to:

  • informing the Department of Home Affairs in writing when certain events occur (e.g. changes to your business structure);
  • ensuring your employee works only in the nominated occupation;
  • not engaging in discriminatory recruiting practices;
  • keeping records to demonstrate your compliance with your sponsorship obligations; and
  • paying and assuming all costs associated with applying for sponsorship or nominations (e.g. migration agent costs).

Key Takeaways

Larger employers who have an ongoing need to hire overseas workers may wish to apply to become an accredited sponsor under the TSS visa. The key eligibility requirements to become an accredited sponsor are that you must:

  • be an approved SBS or meet the SBS requirements; and
  • meet the characteristics for one of the five categories defined by the Department of Home Affairs.

The main advantage of being an accredited sponsor is that you will receive priority processing for all TSS nominations and visa applications, reducing the processing time from months to days. If you have any questions about becoming an accredited sponsor, contact LegalVision’s immigration lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a tech-driven, full-service commercial law firm that uses technology to deliver a faster, better quality and more cost-effective client experience.
Graci Chen

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