Visa Options

There are several visa options that allow businesses to sponsor overseas workers to work in Australia. They are:

Temporary Business Sponsorship (457 visas)

Temporary Work (Skilled) or 457 visa allows businesses based either in Australia or overseas to sponsor workers for a temporary visa lasting up to 4 years. Only certain occupations are eligible for 457 visas, and employees must be paid at the market rate. The 457 visa is the main visa used to sponsor employees to work in Australia. The employer can either be a business operating in Australia or overseas. Most employers will apply for approval as a Standard Business Sponsor. The approval generally lasts for 3 years and there is a limit to the number of employees who can be sponsored over this time.

Criteria

The application for a company sponsorship visa consists of 3 parts:

Sponsorship Applying for approval as a business sponsor would require the business to provide details to show:

  • The sponsor is a lawful, operating business
  • The sponsor has the financial ability to meet its sponsorship obligations

That the business meets certain training benchmarks, or is a start up company which has an auditable plan to meet the training benchmarks. Nomination The employer must then apply for permission to sponsor an overseas resident to fill certain nominated position(s). The main criteria here are that:

  • The position is in an occupation on the CSOL (Consolidated Sponsored Occupations List); AND
  • The applicant is to be paid a base salary of at least the TSMIT (currently $53,900); AND

Terms and conditions of the employment are no less favourable than for an Australian in an equivalent position - in particular, the salary paid is at least at the market rate.

Visa Application The employee would then apply for a visa to work in Australia to fill the nominated position. This would involve providing the following evidence:

That the employee has the required skills to fill the position and is eligible for any required licensing or registration

The employee meets the 457 English requirement That the employee meets the health requirements for the visa and holds suitable health insurance. Duration and Conditions

The 457 visa is valid for up to 4 years, and extensions are possible. The 457 visa is subject to a condition 8107 work restriction and can only work for the sponsoring employer, unless a different employer lodges a new nomination for the employee. The visa can be cancelled if the employee ceases employment for more than 90 days, and the employee must maintain their health insurance cover.


Employer Nomination Scheme Subclass 186 Visas

The Employer Nomination Scheme is a permanent visa, and requires the nominating employer to be operating in Australia. The employee needs to show a higher level of skill than for a 457 visa, but otherwise the criteria are broadly similar to the 457 visa.

The Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) results in a permanent visa for the sponsored employee. It is a common way for 457 visa holders to qualify for permanent residence, but has a higher skill level than the 457 visa.

ENS Stages

There are two stages to the ENS subclass 186 application:

Nomination: involves review of the business' operations as well as the position offered to the employee

Visa Application: there are three possible pathways which may require a skills assessment, English language testing and health and police checks Application Pathways

There are three possible application pathways for an ENS visa:

Temporary Residence Transition: where applicants have worked with the employer on a 457 visa for the last 2 years. In this case, no skills assessment is required and an English level equivalent to IELTS 5 is required.

Direct Entry Stream: the employee will need to provide a formal skills assessment in their occupation, and show that they have worked in their occupation for three years. The required English level is IELTS 6 equivalent.

Agreement Stream: where the employer has a Labour Agreement

Common Issues with ENS Visas

ENS visas require a significantly higher level of documentation than a 457 visa. Difficulties which can be encountered in applying for ENS visas include

Obtaining skills assessments - each skills assessing authority has different criteria, but in some circumstances this requirement can be avoided Demonstrating that the employer meets the "satisfactory record of training" requirement

Showing exceptional circumstances where visa applicants would not meet the usual requirements for Age, English language ability and skill level


Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) Subclass 187 Visas

The RSMS visa requires a job offer in a regional area. The position needs to be approved by a Regional Certifying Body, but otherwise the skill level criteria are lower than for an ENS visa. The resulting RSMS visa is a permanent visa, but is subject to cancellation if the employee leaves employment within 2 years of obtaining the visa.

The Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme or RSMS visa is a permanent employer sponsored visa which requires a job offer in a Regional Area of Australia.

RSMS Application Stages

There are in general three stages to an RSMS application:

  • RCB Certification:the Regional Certifying Body will ensure that the position is genuine and in many cases require that the position has been advertised
  • Nomination: review of the business and position by the Department of Immigration
  • Visa application:there are three pathways, and generally the skill level is lower than for the ENS program. Applicants must be aged under 50, unless exceptional circumstances apply. RSMS Regional Areas

In order to be granted an RSMS visa, the employee must be offered a position in a "regional area". The regional areas are specified by postcode by the Department of Immigration.

Application Pathways

There are three possible application pathways for an RSMS visa:

  • Temporary Residence Transition:where applicants have worked with the employer on a 457 visa for the last 2 years. In this case, no RCB certification is required and an English level equivalent to IELTS 5 is required.
  • Direct Entry Stream: the position will need to be certified by an RCB, and the employee will need English level equivalent to IELTS 6. Applicants in trade occupations may require a formal skills assessment.
  • Agreement Stream: where the employer has a Labour Agreement Benefits of Applying for RSMS over ENS visa

The requirements for RSMS are more straightforward than ENS in a number of important ways:

The employer does not need to meet the training requirement

The visa applicant requires a lower level of skill for the Direct Entry Stream - most applicants do not require a skills assessment, and there is no minimum work experience requirement It is possible to apply for RSMS in a wider range of occupations than ENS

RSMS is the highest priority visa in the skilled migration stream

Common Issues with RSMS Visas

The main difficulties employers face when obtaining RSMS visas are as follows:

Identifying the correct eligibility stream

Obtaining an RCB approval - each RCB has different criteria and an approval may need to be individually negotiated with the RCB

Showing exceptional circumstances where visa applicants would not meet the usual requirements for Age, English language ability and skill level

Follow us