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Employer Sponsored Migration

Organising sponsorship for overseas employees can be a daunting and time-consuming task. As a former employer and contractor in the construction industry I am well aware of the pressures and time-constraints that employers face on a daily basis. Apart from organising the application forms and supporting documentation, there are many other issues and agencies to deal with, like:

  • Recruitment agencies
  • Regional Certifying Bodies
  • English language tests
  • Inclusion of family members
  • Pay rates
  • Employment contracts
  • Medicals
  • insurance
  • Sponsorship obligations
  • Skills recognition

Abolition and replacement of the 457 Visa

Government reforms to employer sponsored skilled migration visas.

  • Fact sheet one: Reforms to Australia’s temporary employer sponsored skilled migration programme—abolition and replacement of the 457 visa.
  • Fact sheet two: Reforms to Australia’s permanent employer sponsored skilled migration programme.

2 years of work experience will be required to qualify for a Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa which will replace the 457 visa from March 2018. Currently, applicants with a relevant qualification, do not require work experience to obtain a 457 visa.

Employer Sponsored Migration (Temporary) Business Long Stay Subclass 457

This is a temporary visa for up to 4 years. Applicants can be inside Australia (as long as they are the holder of a valid, eligible visa) or outside Australia. Processing times are relatively fast.

The sc. 457 visa holders can, at a later stage, be sponsored for a permanent visa through the Temporary Residence Transition stream (see below for more details). There is minimum market salary rate (the rate paid to an equivalent Australian worker for a similar position). The sponsor must meet certain training requirements or contribute to an industry training fund.

There are 3 stages to this visa:

  1. The sponsor applies to become a Standard Business Sponsor (valid for 3 years when approved)
  2. The sponsor then nominates the position he or she wants to sponsor (valid for 12 months when approved, unless the sponsorship ceases beforehand).
  3. The nominee applies for his or her visa (valid up to 4 years).

The sponsoring employer must:

  • Be a lawfully operating business
  • Meet training requirements.
  • Have no adverse information about it or any of its directors.
  • Attest that they have a strong record of, or a demonstrated commitment to employing local labour and non-discriminatory employment practices.

Overseas business sponsors that have no formal operating base or representation in Australia may apply to bring employees to Australia to establish a business operation in Australia or fulfil obligations for a contract or other business activity in Australia. Overseas Business Sponsors do not need to be operating in Australia but may need to meet other employer eligibility requirements.

The position must:

  • Be in the sponsor’s business or related business
  • Be in relation to an approved occupation.
  • Be on the current Consolidated Sponsored Occupations List

The employee must:

  • Be sponsored by an eligible employer.
  • Be able to demonstrate that they have the relevant skills, qualifications and experience to perform the nominated occupation
  • A skills assessment may be required.
  • Have demonstrated English language proficiency (a score of 5 in all four components of the IELTS test), unless exempt.
  • Be eligible for any relevant licences or registration required for the nominated position.

Changes to Permanent Employer Sponsored Visas [An accordion heading, drops down to reveal content when selected.]

Changes to be introduced in July 2017 and March 2018 mean that many people will no longer be eligible for ENS and RSMS applications. Application costs will also increase significantly from March 2018.

Applicants Between 45 and 49 No Longer Eligible

Applicants currently need to be under 50 when they lodge to be eligible for ENS or RSMS.

From 1 July 2017, applicants for the Direct Entry Stream of ENS and RSMS will need to be under 45 when they apply. There has been no information about possible exemptions for people 45 or over.

The Department of Immigration has indicated that the age limit for the Temporary Residence Transition Stream will not change until March 2018, but there is no guarantee that this won’t change earlier than expected.

Higher English Requirement from July 2017

From 1 July, all applicants for ENS and RSMS visas will need Competent English.

Increased Work Experience Requirements from March 2018

Work experience requirements will be increased for employer sponsored visas from March 2018 as follows:

  • A minimum of 3 years of work experience in your occupation will be required to qualify for ENS and RSMS visas.
  • Work experience requirements for applicants for the Temporary Residence Transition Stream of ENS and RSMS will be increased from 2 to 3 years

People who will be affected by these changes:

  • RSMS Applicants: currently, applicants with relevant qualifications can apply for RSMS without needing any work experience
  • People Currently in Australia on 457s: 457 holders are currently eligible for a Temporary Residence Transition Stream ENS or RSMS visa after 2 years with their employer. This will increase to 3 years from March 2018
  • International Students and Recent Graduates: many international students and recent graduates are currently eligible for a 457 visa, then for an ENS visa through the Temporary Residence Transition Stream after working for their employer for 2 years. This pathway will no longer be available from March 2018 because 2 years of work experience will be required for the TSS visa

More Restrictive Occupations List from March 2018

From March 2018, only applicants with an occupation on the MLTSSL will be eligible for permanent employer sponsored visas. There may be some additional occupations for regional positions.

The MLTSSL has only 183 occupations, mainly in accounting, engineering, IT, medical and allied health and trades. Currently, approximately 70% of ENS and RSMS applications are for people in occupations which are not on the MLTSSL. 60% of 457 visa holders are in an occupation which is not on the MLTSSL.

This change will have a significant impact on applicants for ENS and RSMS.

Additional Training Levies from March 2018

From March 2018, a training levy will be payable when applying for an ENS or RSMS visa. The amount will be $3,000 for smaller businesses with turnover of less than AUD 10 million, or $5,000 for larger businesses.

Employer Sponsored Migration (Temporary) Business Long Stay Subclass 457

Employer Sponsored Migration (Temporary) Business Long Stay Subclass 457

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Current Permanent Employer Sponsored Visas

  • Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (Permanent) (Subclass 187)
  • Employer Nomination Scheme (permanent) (Subclass 186)

These visas are for skilled workers from outside Australia or skilled temporary residents who live and work in Australia. It has three streams.

  1. The Temporary Residence Transition stream is for subclass 457 visa holders who have worked for two years and their employer wants to offer them a permanent position.
  2. The Direct Entry stream is for people who have never, or only briefly, worked in the Australian labour market.
  3. The Agreement stream is for people sponsored by an employer through a labour or regional migration agreement.

In this overview, we will only address the Temporary Residence Transition and the Direct Entry streams.

Current Permanent Employer Sponsored Visas

Current Permanent Employer Sponsored Visas

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Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (Permanent) (Subclass 187)

This is a permanent visa for employers operating in regional and low population growth areas of Australia, who want to sponsor skilled workers to fill skilled vacancies in their business.

There are 3 stages to this visa:

  1. Under the Direct Entry stream the nomination is submitted to a Regional Certifying Body for certification.
  2. The employer nominates the position they want to sponsor.
  3. The nominee applies for his visa.

The Business:

To participate in the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme, you must:

  • Operate an active and lawful business in regional Australia.
  • Have a genuine need for a paid employee to fill a skilled position under the employer’s direct control.
  • Offer a skilled position in the applicant’s field that is full-time and ongoing for at least two years.
  • Provide terms and conditions that are the same as those that would apply to an Australian citizen or Australian permanent resident performing the same work in the same location.
  • Comply with Australian immigration and workplace relations laws.
  • Have no adverse information against you or your business.
  • Nominate a skilled position. This position must be:
    • an occupation that is classified at skill level 1 to 3 in the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations for Direct Entry stream.
    • consistent or similar to the position sponsored by the Standard Business Sponsor under the subclass 457 visa program for the Temporary Residence Transition stream.
  • Continue (or continue to be committed) to meet the training requirements under the subclass 457 visa program for the Temporary Residence Transition stream.

The Employee:

To apply for this visa, you must:

  • Be nominated by an approved employer who will nominate you for a position in their business in regional Australia.
  • Be younger than 50 years of age.
  • Meet the skills and qualifications requirements.
  • Meet English language requirements.

Temporary Residence Transition stream

If you apply for the Temporary Residence Transition stream, your skills do not need to be assessed because you have already worked for your nominating employer for two years in Australia.

  • You must have at least vocational English.
  • This stream is available only to people who hold a subclass 457 visa.

Direct Entry stream

If you apply for the Direct Entry stream, you must:

  • Have qualification and skills relevant to your nominated occupation.
  • Have your skills assessed by the relevant assessing authority if you are nominated as a tradesperson and obtained your qualifications outside Australia
  • Have competent English.

There are exemptions relating to age, skills and English language ability. These depend on your nominated occupation, salary and past work experience.

Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (Permanent) (Subclass 187)

Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (Permanent) (Subclass 187)

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Employer Nomination Scheme (Permanent) (Subclass 186)

This visa is for skilled workers from outside Australia or skilled temporary residents who live and work in Australia.

There are 2 stages to this visa.

  1. The employer nominates the position that they want to fill and finds a suitable employee who is willing to work for them in Australia.
  2. The employee accepts the offer of employment from the nominating employer and applies for a visa.

The Employer:

To participate in the Employer Nomination Scheme, you must:

  • Have a genuine need for a paid employee to fill a skilled position under the employer’s direct control.
  • Offer a skilled position in the applicant’s field that is full-time and ongoing for at least two years.
  • Provide terms and conditions that are the same as those that would apply to an Australian citizen or Australian permanent resident performing the same work in the same location.
  • Comply with Australian immigration and workplace relations laws.
  • Demonstrate that training is provided to Australians.
  • Have no adverse information against you or your business.
  • Nominate a skilled position. This position must be:
    • Related to an occupation that is on the Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List

The Employee:

  • To apply for this visa, you must:
  • Be nominated by an approved employer
  • Be younger than 50 years of age
  • Meet the skills and qualifications requirements
  • Meet English language requirements.
  • Temporary Residence Transition stream
  • If you apply for the Temporary Residence Transition stream, your skills do not need to be assessed because you have already worked for your nominating employer for two years in Australia.
    • You must have at least vocational English.
    • This stream is available only to people who hold a subclass 457 visa.
  • Direct Entry stream
    • If you apply for the Direct Entry stream, you must:
    • Provide a positive skills assessment in your nominated occupation.
    • Provide evidence of at least three years of relevant work experience.
    • Have competent English.

There are exemptions relating to age, skills and English language ability. These depend on your nominated occupation, salary and past work experience.

Employer Nomination Scheme (Permanent) (Subclass 186)

Employer Nomination Scheme (Permanent) (Subclass 186)

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Faq's - ENGLISH SKILL REQUIREMENTS

How can I prove I have functional English?

To prove that you have functional English you must provide evidence of one of the following:

  • You are the holder of a valid passport issued by the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada, New Zealand, or the Republic of Ireland and you are a citizen of that country.
  • An International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test result of an average band score of at least 4.5 based on the four test components of speaking, reading, listening and writing. Your test must have been completed within 12 months of visa application lodgement or can be completed during visa application processing.
  • A Test of English as a Foreign Language internet-based Test (TOEFL iBT) test result of a total band score of at least 32 based on the four test components of speaking, reading, writing and listening. Your test must have been completed within 12 months of visa application lodgement or can be completed during visa application processing.
  • A Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic test result of an overall band score of at least 30 based on the four test components of speaking, reading, writing and listening. Your test must have been completed within 12 months of visa application lodgement or can be completed during visa application processing.
  • A Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) test result of an overall band score of at least 147 based on the four test components of speaking, reading, writing and listening and the test must have been taken on or after 1 January 2015. Your test must have been completed within 12 months of visa application lodgement or can be completed during visa application processing.
  • A positive assessment by an Adult Migrant English Program service provider in Australia that you have functional English.
  • Completed all years of primary education and at least three years of secondary education in an educational institution in or outside Australia and all instructions were in English.
  • Completed at least five years of secondary education in an institution in or outside Australia and all instructions were in English.
  • Successfully completed at least one year of full-time study or equivalent part-time study towards a degree, higher degree, diploma, or associate diploma in an institution in Australia and all instructions were in English.
  • Completed a degree, a higher degree, a diploma or a trade certificate that required at least two years of full-time study or training in an institution in or outside Australia and all instructions were in English.

How can I prove I have vocational English?

To prove that you have vocational English you must provide evidence of one of the following:

  • You hold a valid passport issued by the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada, New Zealand or the Republic of Ireland and you are a citizen of that country.
  • You have achieved a score of at least 5 in each of the four test components (speaking, reading, listening and writing) in an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test that has been undertaken in the three years immediately prior to lodging the visa application.
  • You have achieved a score of at least ‘B’ in each of the four test components of an Occupational English Test (OET) that has been undertaken in the three years immediately prior to lodging the visa application.
  • You have achieved the following minimum test scores in each of the four test components: 4 for listening, 4 for reading, 14 for writing and 14 for speaking, in a Test of English as a Foreign Language internet-based test (TOEFL iBT) that has been undertaken in the three years immediately prior to lodging the visa application.
  • You have achieved a test score of at least 36 in each of the four test components (speaking, reading, listening and writing) in a Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic that has been undertaken in the three years immediately prior to lodging the visa application.
  • You have achieved a test score of at least 154 in each of the four test components (speaking, reading, listening and writing) in a Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) test that was undertaken on or after 1 January 2015 and prior to lodging the visa application.

How can I prove I have competent English?

To prove that you have competent English you must provide evidence of one of the following:

  • You hold a valid passport issued by the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada, New Zealand or the Republic of Ireland and you are a citizen of that country.
  • You have achieved a score of at least 6 in each of the four test components (speaking, reading, listening and writing) in an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test that has been undertaken in the three years immediately prior to lodging the visa application.
  • You have achieved a score of at least ‘B’ in each of the four test components of an Occupational English Test (OET) that has been undertaken in the three years immediately prior to lodging the visa application.
  • You have achieved the following minimum test scores in each of the four test components: 12 for listening, 13 for reading, 21 for writing and 18 for speaking, in a Test of English as a Foreign Language internet-based test (TOEFL iBT) test that has been undertaken in the three years immediately prior to lodging the visa application.
  • You have achieved a test score of at least 50 in each of the four test components (speaking, reading, listening and writing) in a Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic that has been undertaken in the three years immediately prior to lodging the visa application.
  • You have achieved a test score of at least 169 in each of the four test components (speaking, reading, listening and writing) in a Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) test that has been undertaken on or after 1 January 2015 and prior to lodging the visa application.

How can I prove I have proficient English?

To prove that you have proficient English you must provide evidence of one of the following:

  • You have achieved a score of at least 7 in each of the four test components (speaking, reading, listening and writing) in an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test that has been undertaken in the three years immediately prior to lodging the visa application.
  • You have achieved a score of at least ‘B’ in each of the four test components of an Occupational English Test (OET) that has been undertaken in the three years immediately prior to lodging the visa application.
  • You have achieved the following minimum test scores in each of the four test components: 24 for listening, 24 for reading, 27 for writing and 23 for speaking, in a Test of English as a Foreign Language internet-based test (TOEFL iBT) test that has been undertaken in the three years immediately prior to lodging the visa application.
  • You have achieved a test score of at least 65 in each of the four test components (speaking, reading, listening and writing) in a Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic that has been undertaken in the three years immediately prior to lodging the visa application.
  • You have achieved a test score of at least 185 in each of the four test components (speaking, reading, listening and writing) in a Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) test that has been undertaken on or after 1 January 2015 and prior to lodging the visa application.

How can I prove I have superior English?

To prove that you have superior English you must provide evidence of one of the following:

  • You have achieved a score of at least 8 in each of the four test components (speaking, reading, listening and writing) in an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test that has been undertaken in the three years immediately prior to lodging the visa application.
  • You have achieved a score of ‘A’ in each of the four test components of an Occupational English Test (OET) that has been undertaken in the three years immediately prior to lodging the visa application.
  • You have achieved the following minimum test scores in each of the four test components: 28 for listening, 29 for reading, 30 for writing and 26 for speaking, in a Test of English as a Foreign Language internet-based test (TOEFL iBT) test that has been undertaken in the three years immediately prior to lodging the visa application.
  • You have achieved a test score of at least 79 in each of the four test components (speaking, reading, listening and writing) in a Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic that has been undertaken in the three years immediately prior to lodging the visa application.
  • You have achieved a test score of at least 200 in each of the four test components (speaking, reading, listening and writing) in a Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) test that has been undertaken on or after 1 January 2015 and prior to lodging the visa application.

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