The purpose of employer sponsored visas is to enable Australian employers to fill specific skilled vacancies with overseas quality employees if they are unable to fill a vacancy from the Australian labour market or through their own training efforts.
Hiring overseas employees comes can be overwhelming especially where visa applications are concerned. Many businesses are trying to go through the process themselves and find that the sponsorship and visa application process can drag on for months. Many applications are refused or delayed because one critical piece of information was missing.
Employer Sponsored Visa Options
There are several visa options that allow businesses to sponsor overseas workers to work in Australia.
Temporary Work or 457 Visas
Temporary Work or 457 visa allows businesses Australian or overseas businesses to sponsor workers for a visa up to 4 years. Only occupations on the CSOL are eligible for 457 visas, and employees must be paid at the market salary rate.
Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS)
The Employer Nomination Scheme is a permanent visa, and is only available for businesses operating in Australia. Employees are required to complete a skills assessment or work for at least two years in their nominated occupation in Australia before they are eligible to apply. The overall criteria are similar to the 457 visa.
Regional Sponsored Skilled Migration Scheme (RSMS)
The RSMS is a permanent visa that requires a sponsorand a job offer in a regional area. The position must be approved by the relevant Regional Certifying Body, however, the skill level criteria are lower than for an ENS visa.
The 457 visa is frequently used to sponsor employees to work in Australia. Most employers will apply for approval as a Standard Business Sponsor. Standard Business Sponsor can either be a business operating in Australia or overseas.
The approval generally lasts for 3 years and there is a limit to the number of employees who can be sponsored over this time.
The application for a 457 visa consists of 3 steps:
Applying for approval as a business sponsor would require the business to provide evidence that:
- The sponsor is a lawful, operating business in Australia or overseas
- The sponsor has the financial ability to meet its sponsorship obligations
- That the business meets certain training benchmarks, businesses operating less than 12 months must present an auditable training plan to meet the training requirements.
The employer must then apply for permission to sponsor an overseas resident to fill the nominated position(s). General criteria for nomination includes:
- 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 Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) which is 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 applies 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, in number of trade occupations formal skills assessment is required
- The employee meets the English requirements
- 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, the validity can be extended. The 457 visa holder can only work for the sponsoring employer, unless a different employer lodges a new nomination for the employee. The visa is subject to cancellation if the employee ceases employment for more than 90 days.
Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) Subclass 186 Visas
The Employer Nomination Scheme is a permanent visa, and is only available for businesses operating in Australia.
The application for an ENS Subclass 186 consists of 2 steps:
Similarly to 457 visas, it involves the review of the business' operations as well as the position offered to the employee
- Visa Application:
There are three streams to applyfor an ENS visa:
- Temporary Residence Transition Stream: the applicant must have worked with the employer on a 457 visa for the last 2 years. No skills assessment is required and an English level equivalent to IELTS 5 is sufficient to satisfy the requirements for the visa.
- Direct Entry Stream:the applicant will need to provide a formal skills assessment in their nominated occupation, and provide evidence that they have worked in their occupation for three years. The required level or English IELTS 6 equivalent.
- Agreement Stream:this pathway is available for employees where the employer has a Labour Agreement
Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) Subclass 187 Visas
The RSMS visa is a permanent employer sponsored visa which requires a job offer in a “Regional Area” of Australia.
The application for an RSMS Subclass 187 consists of 3 steps:
- RCB Certification: the relevant Regional Certifying Body will certify that the position is genuine. Before certification can be issued the employer may be required to advertise the positions and complete additional steps.
- Nomination: involves the review of the business' operations as well as the position offered to the employee
- Visa application: similarly to ENS visas, there are three pathways to apply for the visa, the skill level required for the position is lower than for the ENS program.
Regional Areas for RSMS visas
Regional areas are specified by postcode by the Department of Immigration.
Regional areas for the purposes of RSMS sponsorship:
- The whole of Western Australia
- The whole of South Australia
- The whole of Tasmania
- The whole of ACT
- The whole of Northern Territory
- New South Wales (NSW) - all areas excluding: Sydney, Newcastle, and Wollongong
- Victoria - all areas excluding Melbourne
- Queensland- all areas excluding Brisbane and the Gold Coast
There are three streams to apply for a RSMS visa:
- Temporary Residence Transition: the applicant must have worked with the employer on a 457 visa for the last 2 years. No RCB certification is required and an English level equivalent to IELTS 5 is sufficient to satisfy the requirements for the visa.
- Direct Entry Stream: the position must be certified by an RCB. The applicant will need to provide a formal skills assessment in their nominated occupation (trades). The required level or English IELTS 6 equivalent.
- Agreement Stream: this pathway is available for employees where the employer has a Labour Agreement
Benefits of applying for RSMS
- No training requirements for the employer
- 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
- More occupations are eligible for RSMS visas
- RSMS visas have the highest processing priority in the skilled migration stream
Common issues with work visas include:
- Difficulties in obtaining positive skills assessment
- Satisfying training requirements and present training records
- Selecting the correct application stream
- Failing to satisfy the RCB criteria
How can we help you?
We offer expert advice on any difficult issues that may arise when applying for 457, ENS and RSMS visas, including:
- Understanding the requirements for Standard Business Sponsorship approval
- Compliance with sponsorship obligation to avoid fines and penalties
- Lodging decision-ready applications to make sure that your overseas employees are able to work in Australia as soon as possible
- Advising on record keeping requirements
- Checking work rights of your prospective employee
We can assist Australian and overseas businesses to sponsor overseas talents for 457, ENS or RSMS visas and ensure ongoing compliance with sponsorship obligations.
If you would like to discuss sponsoring employees for a work visa, please contact us to discuss your goals and requirements.