What are the options and requirements relating to the Permanent Employer-Sponsored Visa program?

Publish Date: Jun 12, 2013

Australia is often referred to as the “lucky country”, and many overseas workers wish to migrate here to take advantage of the weather, quality of life, and of course the low unemployment rate. On the flipside, Australia receives the skill and expertise of skilled migrants who can benefit the country. There are many visa options available for employers looking at the employer-sponsored visa program, with the options being: the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS); Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS); and the Labour Agreement program – which are programs used to cover short-to-medium term demands for particular skills that the country may require.

In 2012, the number of visa subclasses was reduced from six to two by replacing the Labour Agreement visa in the ENS and RSMS. The 2012 changes also brought with it a new skilled migrant selection model, along with the introduction of SkillSelect, which is an online system allowing potential employees overseas to record an expression of interest in migrating to the country, thus allowing the person to be considered for a visa.

What are the visa classes and subclasses for skilled migrants?

With the reduction of the employer-sponsored visa classes in 2012, the current visa classes are:

  • Employer Nomination (Class EN) Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186);
  • Regional Employer Nomination (Class RN) Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (subclass 187).

Within the available visas for skilled migrants, there is also an additional three streams:

  • the Temporary Residence Transition stream for subclass 457 visas: which allows an employer to offer an employee who has worked for two years in the same place, and is a holder of the 457 visa, and the opportunity must also exist, allowing the person to permanently hold the same position;
  • the Direct Entry stream: which is available to a foreign employee who has not held a subclass 457 visa for at least two years, and is unproven in Australia as an employee, or the person has applied for a visa overseas;
  • the Agreement stream: applies to an applicant who is a sponsored worker and is also part of a highly scrutinised and negotiated labour agreement, or a regional migration agreement.

The Temporary Residence Transition stream

Holders of a subclass 457 visa have the ability to fast track their temporary visa into permanent residence which now underpins the Temporary Residence Transition stream.

In order for subclass 457 visa holders to qualify for permanent residency, an employer must nominate the person, and the employee must also have been with the same employer for the two years preceding an ENS or RSMS application.

Further requirements include:

  • the role that is being nominated for is consistent to the applicants position whilst holding the subclass 457 visa;
  • the position will continue for at least two years;
  • the same terms and conditions of employment that an Australian citizen enjoys, will also apply to the applicant;
  • the rate of pay for the applicant will be the same as an Australian citizen;
  • the employer has met, or continues to meet, the subclass 457 visa requirements.

For employers wishing to nominate an applicant for the RSMS they must be actively and lawfully conducting their business in regional Australia.

Meanwhile, the applicant must also meet the following requirements:

  • they are less than 50 years of age, unless they are exempt from the requirement;
  • meet the International English Language Test Score (IELTS) requirements, unless they are exempt from the requirement.

Applicants of the RSMS Temporary Residence Transition employer visa will be exempt from further assessment of their skills and qualifications because of their employment history, and the continuing sponsorship by an employer.

The Direct Entry stream

The Direct Entry stream is available for applicants outside of Australia or for applicants who are unable to apply for the Temporary Residence Transition stream. The common requirements for employers who are applying either through the ENS or RSMS Direct Entry is the business must be actively and lawfully operating in a regional area, that the role is a full-time position that is available for at least two years, and the employee will be paid the same rate as an Australian citizen.

The differences in the requirements generally lie with the classification and certification of the role between the streams, and an ENS Direct Entry employer must also offer training to Australians.

For applicants who are untested in the Australian job market, both the ENS and RSMS Direct Entry stream requirements will be more stringent to ensure that they are equipped to deal with Australian working conditions. Furthermore, the English language proficiency and skills requirements will also be more stringent as well.

The Labour Agreement stream

Applicants for the Labour Agreement stream will need to meet the requirements of their nominees in regards to the relevant labour agreements, as well as adhering to the English language proficiency requirements, skills requirements, meet the relevant criteria age, and other labour agreement requirements.

What are some of the exemptions to the visa requirements?

Exemptions from requirements such English proficiency, age, and skills, will be objectively assessed on an individual basis, and the exemptions will take into consideration the occupation, salary, or how long the applicant has been with the nominee employer.

In terms of concessions relating to labour agreement applicants, will depend on factors such as the salary, specialised nature of the occupation, and the educational background of the applicant which are all relevant considerations.

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