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Sponsoring Skilled Foreign Workers

Businesses are facing increasing challenges to finding skilled employees with the right mix of qualifications and industry experience to meet their resourcing needs. The global market offers many opportunities to find a worker who is the right fit for the role and company culture.

Peak Services Legal can assist businesses in understanding what is involved in sponsoring a skilled foreign worker as well as guide businesses through the process from obtaining sponsorship approval to supporting workers with their visa applications.

Below is a summary of the three main steps for businesses to complete.

In order to sponsor foreign workers for an Australian work visa, the business must apply to the Department of Home Affairs (Home Affairs) for approval as a Standard Business Sponsor.

The key criteria for approval are:

  • The business is lawfully and actively operating – evidence can include a certificate of ASIC registration or tax return documents; and
  • No adverse information against the business – including contraventions of industrial relations legislation or insolvency.

Once a business is an approved Standard Business Sponsor, the sponsorship is valid for up to five years. It is important to note that legislative obligations apply to Standard Business Sponsors.

Next, the business must nominate the position which it is seeking to fill. Getting the timing right in the nomination stage is a crucial factor. If done incorrectly, this could unnecessarily delay recruitment.

The nominated position must be on one of three lists:

  • The Short Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL);
  • The Medium and Long Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL); or
  • The Regional Occupation List (ROL).

Labour Market Testing
The business must also demonstrate that it has made attempts to recruit the position from the Australian labour market. The business must place at least two job advertisements in two different national job-seeking forums for at least 28 days in the four month period immediately before the nomination application is lodged.

Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) Levy
Businesses that intend to sponsor foreign workers will now need pay an upfront charge calculated based on the type of visa and anticipated duration of the visa. The charge could range between $1,200 to $5,000. This charge is paid to the Skilling Australia Fund (SAF) which is designed to contribute to the development of Australian employees’ skills and training.

Visa application
Once the nomination has been approved, the foreign worker must make a visa application within six months.

The criteria for approval vary depending on the type of visa. For example, to be eligible for a Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa (which replaced the 457 Visa), an employee must:

  • Have at least two years work experience in the relevant occupation;
  • Meet English language requirements;
  • Obtain adequate health insurance; and
  • Be of good character.

Take Away Points for Employers
If your business is struggling to recruit the right employee, consider broadening your search for candidates to overseas markets. However, before doing so, we recommend that you seek advice about the process of sponsoring a foreign worker.

For assistance with sponsoring a foreign worker please contact Seone Woolf, Senior Associate and Registered Migration Agent (MARN 1796516) at or 07 3000 2112.