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How Can My Business Sponsor Foreign Workers in Australia?

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Businesses thrive when they employ the right people. However, due to labour shortages in certain industries, it is not always possible to hire locally. Therefore, as an Australian business, you may want to sponsor foreign workers who have the right skills to grow your business on temporary or permanent visas. This article sets out three types of visas that require your business sponsorship, which include the:

  1. Temporary Skill Shortage visa;
  2. Employer Nomination Scheme visa; or
  3. Regional Sponsored Skilled Migration Scheme visa.

Temporary Skill Shortage Visa  

Also known as the TSS visa, this temporary visa allows the holder to live in Australia and work full-time for the sponsoring employer. TSS visa applicants may also include dependent family members in their application. Furthermore, the TSS visa has a short-term stream and a medium/long-term stream. The main differences between the streams are set out in the table below.

Type of Stream Applicant Profile Length of Visa Option for permanent residency?
Short-term For applicants whose occupations are on the short-term skilled occupations list (STSOL) Two years, renewable for another two years No
Medium and long-term For applicants who are on the medium and long-term strategic skills list (MLTSSL) Four years Yes, after three years

The TSS visa also has a labour agreement stream. You can only use this option if there is a proven labour need that the Australian labour market cannot readily meet. Furthermore, you can only use this option if standard visa options are not sufficient in addressing this need.

You can help your future employees apply for the TSS visa by following these three steps.

1. Business Sponsorship

You must apply to become a standard business sponsor (SBS). If you intend to sponsor many foreign workers, you should apply to be an accredited business sponsor (ABS) as that offers priority processing. However, you might be an overseas-based business that does not have an established company within Australia. If so, you should apply to be an overseas business sponsor (OBS).

If applying to be an SBS, you need to demonstrate to the Department of Home Affairs that your business has:

  • been legally established;
  • good financial standing; and
  • complied with Australian laws or, if you are applying to be an OBS, the laws of the foreign country.

Documents that you can use to prove your compliance include your:  

  • Australian Business Number (ABN);
  • Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) records;
  • registered business name;
  • company’s structural details (e.g. whether your company is a trust, incorporated association or unincorporated association);
  • business activity statement (BAS);
  • financial records;
  • business’ bank statements;
  • employee’s records;
  • payroll documents;
  • employment contracts;
  • workplace policies; and
  • annual reports.

If approved, your business’s sponsorship is valid for up to five years for SBS and OBS. If you applied to be an ABS, your sponsorship approval is valid for up to six years.

2. Nomination

You must nominate what position needs filling and who would fill that position. Therefore, you need to:

  • select an occupation under the combined occupation list;
  • conduct labour market testing (proof that you have advertised the position in Australia within the last four months);
  • nominate a genuine position;
  • pay the Nomination Training Contribution Charge (NTCC); and
  • pay income in line with the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT).

3. Visa Application

Finally, your sponsored employee must apply for the visa. To be successful, the employee must:

  • have a minimum of two years’ experience in the nominated occupation;
  • complete a skills assessment with relevant skills assessing authority;
  • demonstrate they are a Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) for occupations under STSOL;
  • have good English competency; and
  • meet health and character requirements.

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

Employer Nomination Scheme

The Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa provides permanent residency for skilled workers. Additionally, sponsored employees can work in metropolitan and regional areas for an approved business sponsor. Your sponsored employees can apply for this visa in three ways:

1. Temporary Residence Transition

If your employees have been employed on an ENS visa for at least two years or a TSS Visa for at least three years with the same employer, they can apply for the ENS visa. However, if your employees have been previously sponsored on a 457 visa (which has since been abolished), they have to be employed for at least two years before applying for the visa.

The TSS visa replaced the 457 visa in March 2018. However, given how new the TSS visa is, many of your sponsored employees may still be on a 457 visa when they consider moving towards a permanent visa.

Your employees are not required to complete a skills assessment. Therefore, this visa is ideal for employees who are looking to gain permanent residency in Australia.

2. Direct Entry Stream

To apply via the direct entry stream, the employee will need to satisfy skills competencies. Furthermore, they will also need to prove 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 via a labour agreement with you, their employer. If so, you will need to nominate the business position and ask for your sponsored employee to meet the visa requirements. Otherwise, the criteria and process for nomination are quite similar to the TSS visa.

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Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme

The Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) is a permanent visa that allows sponsored employees to work in regional areas within Australia. You can sponsor your employee if:

  • you have nominated the position;
  • a Regional Certifying Body has approved the position; and
  • your employee meets eligibility criteria. These include being under 45-years-old and having competent English abilities.

The RMS is otherwise similar to the ENS, where the employee has three options to apply for the visa, which are through:

  1. temporary residence transition;
  2. direct entry; or
  3. a labour agreement.

Key Takeaways

There are various ways to employ skilled foreign workers for your business. Which visa is relevant depends on whether you are looking to fill a temporary or permanent position. It also depends on the specific circumstances of your candidate employee. 

However, most of the visas available will require for you to be an approved business sponsor for your employee and to nominate a position that you’d like to fill. If you have any questions about employment immigration, contact LegalVision’s immigration lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

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