All questions

Employer sponsorship

i Subclass 482 (TSS) visa programme

The TSS visa allows Australian companies to nominate foreign workers in skilled occupations for up to two or four years, depending on whether the nominated occupation falls on STSOL or the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL). The nominated occupation must be on the STSOL or the MLTSSL. The occupation lists are reviewed and updated on a six- to 12-monthly basis. Nevertheless, the STSOL and the MTLSSL can be changed at any given time by the issuance of a new legislative instrument.

The introduction of the TSS programme has reduced the available pathways to employer sponsored permanent residence. Visa holders under the short-term stream are able to renew the TSS visa once they are onshore for a further two years but cannot access employer sponsored permanent residence.

ii Occupation lists

The occupation lists, formerly known as the Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL) and the Skilled Occupation List (SOL), underpin a range of visas, including the subclass 482 (TSS) visa. As of 19 April 2017, the CSOL and the SOL were updated and renamed as the STSOL and the MLTSSL and the Regional Occupation List, respectively.31

Since the pandemic, the government initially had introduced the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL), which had a mere 18 occupations focusing on critical skills needed for Australia's economic recovery.32 However, as of 28 October 2022,33 the PMSOL was removed. Home Affairs now has skilled visa processing priorities such as healthcare and teaching occupations.34

iii Labour market testing

Labour market testing (LMT) requires that sponsors first attempt to recruit suitably qualified and experienced Australian citizens or Australian permanent residents for the position they wish to nominate under the TSS visa programme. Under the regulations, LMT is mandatory for all sponsors unless the occupation is exempt or an international trade obligation applies. LMT must be conducted for at least 28 days and within the four months immediately before lodgement of the nomination component of the application. The evidence to support this must be provided at the time of lodgement.

A new instrument effective from 1 October 2020 makes it mandatory for the employer to advertise on Job Outlook, a government-owned recruiting website, in addition to two advertisements on other advertising platforms, for the nominated position, including the position title, required skills, name of the employer or the recruiter, and salary range if annual earnings are lower than A$96,400.35

Australia uses the TSS programme to serve its international trade obligations.

However, there is no such LMT exemption based on conflict with Australia's international trade obligations for the skilled employer sponsored regional visa (subclass 494), as Australia has fulfilled its obligations under the TSS.

Recently, there has been news about the removal of LMT due to the outstanding skills shortages Australia is facing and the loss of talent to other countries;36 confirmed details have yet to be revealed.

iv Skilling Australians Fund Levy

Employers must pay the Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) levy, which is managed by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment. They must not pass the levy on to the visa applicant, as the purpose of the levy is for employers to contribute to the broader skills development of Australians.37 The SAF levy is a one-off fee paid at the time of lodgement of the nomination application. If a company decides to sponsor the applicant for permanent residence, it will have to pay the SAF levy separately to that nomination application.

v Employer nomination scheme visa (subclass 186)

The permanent employer sponsored programme is a residence visa scheme for skilled workers who are sponsored by an Australian business. It can be applied for either onshore or offshore. The subclass 186 visa allows skilled applicants to work under one of three streams: the temporary residence transition (TRT) stream, the direct entry stream and the labour agreement stream.

TRT stream

The TRT stream is geared towards applicants who have been on a subclass 482 visa who intend to be sponsored by the same employer under the subclass 186 visa. To be eligible, applicants must have worked full-time on a subclass 482 visa for at least three of the four years prior to the subclass 186 nomination application (exclusive of periods of unpaid leave).

Direct entry stream

The direct entry stream enables applicants to apply directly for permanent residence without having worked for an Australian employer. It is designed for applicants who have greater skills and work experience and are able to be nominated by an employer. If they are granted the visa, they are not bound to continue working for their employer under immigration law (employees must be aware of their obligations under their employment contract).