What are the main work and business permit categories used by companies to transfer skilled staff?
The most common visa programme utilised to transfer skilled staff into Australia is the temporary skill shortage visa (subclass 482), which replaced the subclass 457 visa in March 2018. Businesses that sponsor skilled overseas workers under a subclass 482 visa are able to do so for a temporary period of either two or four years. Subclass 482 visa holders are:
- eligible to work in Australia for a period of between one day and four years; and
- entitled to bring any eligible dependants (who may work and study) with them to Australia.
After successful entry into Australia, subclass 482 visa holders have no limit on their ability to travel into and out of the country for the duration of their temporary residency.Procedures
What are the procedures for obtaining these permissions? At what stage can work begin?
There are three processing stages in approving a subclass 482 visa: sponsorship, nomination and visa application.
To obtain sponsorship, an application is made by the company, which must:
- be lawfully operating its business;
- ensure the employment of the nominee will benefit Australia;
- be able to comply with sponsorship obligations;
- not be affiliated with any adverse information; and
- have a strong record of, or commitment to, employing local labour and non-discriminatory employment practices.
In submitting the nomination application, the company must:
- be the direct employer, or related to the direct employer, of the nominee;
- ensure the position of the nominee is on the occupation list;
- ensure the position meets the minimum skills threshold;
- ensure the base salary meets or exceeds the temporary skilled migration income threshold (TSMIT), which is currently A$53,900;
- ensure the terms and conditions of employment for the nominee are the equivalent ‘annual market salary rate’ (to that of their Australian counterparts);
- provide the details of the nominee; and
- meet the labour market testing (LMT) requirements (unless they are entitled to an exemption).
For nominees to lodge an application, they must:
- demonstrate they have the requisite skills and experience for the position;
- provide evidence that they have a vocational English proficiency (if required);
- provide a skill assessment (if required);
- undertake a health check (if required); and
- provide police checks.
What are the general maximum (and minimum) periods of stay granted under the main categories for company transfers?
The maximum length of stay depends on the occupation the employee will be engaged in.
If the occupation is on the Short-term Skilled Occupation List, the maximum period of stay is two years. The visa holder may apply for one additional 482 visa, to take the total stay to four years.
If the occupation is on the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List, the 482 visa can be granted for a period of four years.Processing time
How long does it typically take to process the main categories?
The Department advertises the typical processing time as being:
- 30 days for 75 per cent of applications and 46-47 days for 90 per cent of applications in the short-term and medium-term streams; and
- 27 days for 75 per cent of applications and 33 days for 90 per cent of applications in the labour agreement stream.
Is it necessary to obtain any benefits or facilities for staff to secure a work permit?
It is currently not necessary to obtain benefits or facilities for staff to secure a work permit. However, applicants for those under the 482 programme must provide evidence (under condition 8501) that they have made adequate arrangements for health insurance during their intended period of stay within Australia.Assessment criteria
Do the immigration authorities follow objective criteria, or do they exercise discretion according to subjective criteria?
There are strict guidelines concerning the granting of visas. There are numerous criteria for businesses and applicants alike to satisfy in order to be granted a visa - specifically those that allow immigrants to work in Australia. A visa will only be granted if all relevant criteria and procedures are met and undertaken, which leaves little room for subjectivity.High net worth individuals and investors
Is there a special route for high net worth individuals or investors?
The significant investor visa (SIV) is party to the business innovation and investment (subclass 188) and the business innovation and investment (permanent) (subclass 888) stream, and is specifically for high net worth individuals seeking investment migration. Those who hold an SIV have an investment requirement of A$5 million into ‘complying significant investments’ for a minimum of four years. After this is satisfied, an SIV is eligible to apply for a permanent visa.
High net worth individuals who possess entrepreneurial skill or talent are encouraged to apply for a premium investor visa (PIV), which is in the same stream as the SIV. The PIV requires applicants to invest A$15 million into ‘complying investments’ for a 12-month period (minimum) before they become eligible to apply for a permanent visa.
The business talent (permanent) visa (subclass 132) allows high-calibre business owners or part-owners who want to establish a new or develop an existing business in Australia to do so. Genuine applicants must have net assets of at least A$1.5 million. Applicants are generally required to be nominated by a state or territory government agency.
Is there a special route (including fast track) for high net worth individuals for a residence permission route into your jurisdiction?
As noted in question 16, the SIV is an appropriate preliminary route to residency for applicants who meet the investment requirement of A$5 million into a complying investment. Once the four-year threshold is met, the SIV holder may apply for permanent residency. This is similar to the PIV, whereby the applicant must invest A$15 million into complying investments for a minimum of 12 months before he or she is eligible to apply for residency.Highly skilled individuals
Is there a special route for highly skilled individuals?
The distinguished talent visa is for individuals who have an internationally recognised record of exception and outstanding achievement in a profession, sport, the arts or academia and research. This visa allows the applicant to live permanently in Australia.Ancestry and descent
Is there a special route for foreign nationals based on ancestry or descent?
The family visa programme provides options for partners or spouses, children and relatives of Australian citizens or permanent residents.
Various temporary and permanent visas are available, including a carer visa for relatives with long-term medical conditions.Minimum salary
Is there a minimum salary requirement for the main categories for company transfers?
Visa holders under the subclass 482 programme must receive the same remuneration and terms and conditions as an equivalent Australian worker at the same location - known as the ‘annual market salary rate’. This means that a 482 visa holder cannot earn less than A$53,900 (exclusive of superannuation) as per the current TSMIT. If the nominated salary is above the high-income threshold of A$250,000, the equivalent terms and conditions do not apply.Resident labour market test
Is there a quota system or resident labour market test?
LMT was implemented in 2013 under the Migration Amendment (Temporary Sponsored Visas) Act 2013 and the requirements amended in March 2018. The purpose of LMT is to assure the Australian community that those employed pursuant to the 482 programme are supplements and not substitutes. Schedule 2 of this Act outlines the requirements relevant to LMT, with evidence of LMT to include:
- information about the approved sponsor’s attempts to recruit suitably qualified and experienced Australian citizens or Australian permanent residents to the position or any similar position;
- copies of job advertisements placed four months prior to submitting an application for a 482 visa together with evidence of paying for that advertising; or
- any other type of evidence determined by the Minister, by legislative instrument.
Is there a special route for shortage occupations?
A number of visa schemes exist for applicants with an eligible skilled occupation (ie, one that appears on the Skilled Occupation List). Applicants with the relevant skills and experience may be eligible for any of the following visas:
- employer nomination scheme (ENS) visa (subclass 186);
- skilled independent visa (subclass 189) - points-tested stream;
- skilled nominated visa (subclass 190);
- training visa (subclass 407);
- temporary skill shortage visa (subclass 482);
- temporary graduate visa (subclass 485) - graduate work; and
- skilled regional (provisional) visa (subclass 489).
A separate Regional Occupation List applies to the regional sponsored migration scheme visa (subclass 187).Other eligibility requirements
Are there any other main eligibility requirements to qualify for work permission in your jurisdiction?
There is no minimum period of time an employee under the 482 programme must be employed for. All relevant employment details are outlined in the contract of employment, which must comply with the Fair Work Act 2009.Third-party contractors
What is the process for third-party contractors to obtain work permission?
Presently, there is no process for third-party contractors to obtain work permission under the 482 programme. However, individuals who are employed under the On-Hire Labour Agreement are eligible to be on-hired to unrelated businesses.Recognition of foreign qualifications
Is an equivalency assessment or recognition of skills and qualifications required to obtain immigration permission?
A skills assessment may be necessary depending on the nationality and nominated occupation of the applicant, and whether there is doubt concerning the applicant’s ability to perform specific skills related to his or her nominated occupation. However, a skills assessment will be necessary when the applicant is required to obtain a licence or registration for his or her nominated occupation, or to be a member of a professional organisation.