According to the Department of Home Affairs of Australia, the new Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) training levy will come into effect from 12 August 2018. The Fund is a levy that will be imposed on employers nominating foreign candidates for the Temporary Skill Shortage Visa (subclass 482), a visa that in March 2018 replaced the Subclass 457 Visa program, or for a Permanent Resident Visa (subclass 186). The Fund, projected to bring in over AU$1.5 billion over four years, aims at getting businesses that will benefit from the hire of top foreign talent to also provide resources for Australians to receive the training they need to develop skills for a variety of industries.
How the Skilling Australians Fund Works
The Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) was designed to help ensure that all Australians have opportunities to work, while attracting qualified foreign talent to fulfill jobs in sectors experiencing talent shortages. When employers apply to bring in foreign talent, they are required to pay a levy at the point of application that contributes to the SAF. The levy amount depends on the sponsoring business’ size and the foreign worker’s length of stay in Australia.
Businesses with annual turnover less than AU$10 million are required to pay AU$1200 per year, and businesses with annual turnover of AU$10 million or more are required to pay AU$1800 per year for the Temporary Skill Shortage Visa (TSS) (subclass 482). For example, if a business claims more than AU$10 million per year and nominates a potential employee under the TSS visa for two years, the employer will need to pay AU$3600 at the time of application; if a business brings in under AU$10 million per year and has applied to sponsor the potential employee for four years, the amount owed is AU$4800.
Employers who wish to sponsor a skilled overseas worker on a temporary basis may do so for two years, and for four years, subject to the specific eligible skilled occupation to be considered.
There are a number of circumstances that would allow employers to seek an application refund of the SAF levy, including:
- TSS Visa nomination rejection due to employer’s application being rejected
- Employer sponsorship approval but TSS application rejection that is based on health or character grounds
- Sponsorship and TSS visa approval but TSS visa holder does not begin work with the employer
- The TSS visa holder chooses to leave their place of employment within the first 12 months of beginning work. Refunds will only be issued if the visa granted was good for longer than 12 months. The refund will only cover the employee’s unused years.
Mandatory Labor Market Testing
The TSS visa implementation also includes provisions for mandatory Labor Market Testing (LMT). This requires that employers who advertise for a specific position must do so within four months prior to submitting a nomination application. In a minimum of two national media publications or on a national recruitment site, employers are required to advertise an open position for at least 4 weeks before submitting a sponsorship visa application. The media in which employers can advertise has recently been changed to include LinkedIn and industry-specific recruitment websites. Employers who submit an application must also attach evidence of their advertisement in their ImmiAccount unless an International Trade Obligation applies.
However, employers are exempt from Labor Market Testing if the position is in conflict with Australia’s international trade obligations. This includes:
- Workers who are citizens/nationals of China, Japan, or Thailand or who are citizens/nationals/permanent residents of Chile, New Zealand, South Korea, or Singapore
- Nominated workers who are employed by a business that is an associated entity of the sponsoring employer’s business and the entity is located in an ASEAN country or Chile, China, Japan, New Zealand, or South Korea
- Nominated workers who are part of an employer’s associated entity in a World Trade Organization (WTO) member country and the position is for Executive or Senior Managers related to international trade that will oversee all or most of the operations carried out in Australia
- Workers who are citizens of a WTO member nation and have been employed by the nominated employer in Australia on a full-time basis during the previous two years
The Skilling Australians Fund levy and new TSS Visa (subclass 482) regulations may prove daunting for companies looking to expand into the country—and Velocity Global’s team of global immigration services professionals can assist throughout the process. Reach out to Velocity Global today to learn more.