Questions and Answers Employer Sponsorship for skilled workers in Australia

Important : Disclaimer

One of the most common forms of migration for skilled workers is employer sponsorship. As mentioned in previous chapters, Australia is looking for skilled workers, and a comprehensive system has been created to assist employers in filling the many jobs the shortage has created.

You will need to discuss with your employer the matters arising from employer sponsorship. Information required, time frames, medical requirements, and the points system used for determining applications are particularly important.

The Department of Immigration was kind enough to provide us with these useful questions and answers regarding employer sponsorship, which should give you a thorough overview of most of the issues involved in skilled worker migration.

Please note that because everybody's application is individual, these questions and answers are intended as a guide only. You should seek advice on your own case and specific needs from the Department of Immigration or a professional advisor.

What categories are available for employers looking to sponsor skilled workers from overseas?

  • There are three categories for employer-sponsored permanent migration to Australia:
    1. Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS)
    2. Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS)
    3. Labour Agreements (LA)
  • These programs enable employers to recruit workers, either from overseas or people temporarily in Australia, to fill skilled vacancies in their business.
  • The RSMS is a regional visa program and applicants are expected to work in regional or low population growth areas of Australia. This includes all areas of Australia other than Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong, Melbourne and Perth.
  • Applicants are generally required to be less than 45 years of age and satisfy the skill and English language requirements for the visa for which they are applying.
  • Applicants may be exempted from the age, English language or some skill requirements if they can demonstrate that exceptional circumstances apply.
  • If the applicant is being sponsored through the ENS, the occupation must be listed in the Employer Nomination Scheme Occupation List (ENSOL) and provide a skills assessment from the relevant assessing authority.
  • Under the ENS and RSMS, employers must provide full-time employment for three and two years respectively.
  • Visa applications are generally processed within 5-7 months. This will vary depending on the complexities of each case.

What occupations are in demand in Australia?

  • Occupations in demand are listed on the Migration Occupations in Demand List (MODL) which can be found on the Department of Immigration and Citizenship website.
  • The MODL is based on detailed labour market research and analysis undertaken by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.
  • The research includes consultation with employers and peak industry bodies.
  • The list is updated on a six-monthly basis to ensure the MODL is responsive to labour market conditions.
  • Occupations and specialisations identified on the MODL gain extra points for people applying for a points-tested visa in the General Skilled Migration (GSM) stream.
  • The MODL comprises occupations from professional to trades.

How are people with occupations that are NOT on MODL dealt with in the GSM scheme?

  • Applicants must be over 18 and under 45 years of age, with good English language ability and recent skilled work experience, unless they recently completed an eligible Australian qualification.
  • Applicants must also have skills and qualifications for an occupation listed on Australia's Skilled Occupation List (SOL) and pass the GSM Points Test.
  • Under the points test, applicants are awarded points for characteristics that research has found to be the main factors that indicate a person will be successful in the Australian labour market. These include age, English language proficiency, relevant recent work experience and holding an Australian qualification.
  • The points test also rewards other factors that would assist an applicant to settle in Australia, such as being sponsored by an Australian relative.

How does the points system work for the independent skilled migration program?

  • Points may be awarded for a range of factors including: occupation, age; English language ability; specific work experience; a MODL occupation, Australian qualification and regional Australian study, spouse skills or sponsorship by an eligible relative in Australia.

How can a worker get extra points?

  • Bonus points can be awarded for:
    1. Australian work experience or
    2. Fluency in an Australian community language other than English.

Does Australia favour any particular source country or countries for its skilled migrants?

  • Australia, like many other developed countries has experienced a shortage of skilled workers.
  • We do not discriminate for or against any country when seeking skilled workers.
Can the visa holder change employers in Australia?
  • All workers have the right to change employers.
  • People who arrive as permanent migrants through the GSM stream are able to live anywhere in Australia and engage in any type of work to support themselves.
  • People are encouraged to arrange a job in their profession in Australia before they apply for a visa. It is expected that skilled migrants will eventually work in skilled occupations that will utilise their qualifications and expertise. Our research shows that most skilled migrants employed six months after arrival were working in skilled jobs.
What are the costs associated for a person wanting to work in Australia? Do they need a certain amount of money before being accepted?
  • The permanent employer sponsored visas do not require any evidence of funds as people are going directly to waiting jobs under these visas.
  • Entrants under other avenues of the GSM stream are also not required to prove evidence of funds.

What are the health requirements for skilled workers?

  • Everyone is expected to have full medical checks and to meet the health standards for permanent residence.
  • For further information refer to the health requirement fact sheet

Are there character tests conducted?

  • Everyone coming to Australia on either a permanent or temporary basis must satisfy us that they are of good character.
Are there special provisions for regional employers?
  • The Australian Government works closely with state, territory and local governments to provide regional migration programs that support the special skill needs of regional employers.
  • These programmes include concessions that recognise the special circumstances of rural and regional areas. These programs include the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) and the Skilled Independent Regional visa.

What happens if an employer is not happy with an employee's performance when they arrive in Australia?

  • People who arrive as permanent migrants through the GSM stream or the permanent employer sponsored visa programs are subject to the same workplace laws as any permanent resident or Australian citizen.

Do migrant workers get paid the same as Australian workers?

  • As we have said, people who arrive as permanent migrants through the General Skilled Migration scheme are subject to the laws of Australia just as all permanent residents and citizens.

How are workers' skills assessed for the GSM stream?

  • To apply for a visa through the GSM stream, workers must nominate an occupation that is on the Skilled Occupation List (SOL) and be assessed by the relevant Assessing Authority as having suitable skills to work in that occupation.
  • The SOL lists all eligible occupations for the GSM stream and the number of points awarded for each.
  • The SOL provides a complete list of the relevant assessing authority for each occupation on the list.

What obligations do employers have to employees once they arrive in Australia?

  • People who arrive as permanent migrants are accorded the same rights and protection from an employer as Australian citizens.
  • What visa options are available for business owners, senior executives and investors?

Permanent Visa

  • Business Talent (Migrant) visa for high calibre business people who are owners or part owners of an overseas business and have an overall successful business career, significant business assets and have a genuine and realistic commitment to participate as a principal in the management of a new or existing business. This category must be sponsored by a state/territory government.

Provisional Visa (two stage process leading to permanent residence)

  • Business Owner is for people with a successful business career, including senior management or ownership, who have significant business assets and have a genuine and realistic commitment to participate as a principal in the management of a new or existing business. Applicants in this category may be sponsored by a state/territory government.
  • Senior Executive is for senior executive employees of major overseas businesses who have been responsible for strategic policy development affecting a major component or a wide range of operations of that business, who have significant net assets and a genuine and realistic commitment to participate as a principal in the management of a new or existing business. Applicants in this category may be sponsored by a state/territory government.
  • Investor is for investors/business people who have an overall successful record of business or investment activities, have significant net assets, are willing to invest funds in a designated investment in Australia for four years and have a genuine commitment to maintain business and investment activity in Australia. Applicants in this category may be sponsored by a state/territory government.