Recent changes to Skilled Migration Visas, what you need to know…
From 12 August 2018, the training benchmarks obligation placed on employer sponsors have been removed, with the Department of Home Affairs (‘DOHA’) introducing the Skilling Australia Fund (SAF) Levy.
The following visas are affected by this new change:
Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visas (subclass 482);
Employer Nomination Scheme visas (subclass 186) (‘ENS’); and
Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme visas (subclass 187) (‘RSMS’).
Prior to 12 August 2018
Previously, employers were required to meet either Training Benchmark A (guaranteeing they spent 2% of their payroll on training to Australian workers) or Training Benchmark B (spending 1% ) to comply with their Standard Business Sponsorship obligations.
The SAF levy is a levy payable by employers wishing to nominate or who are currently nominating overseas skilled workers. The employer cannot pass the costs onto the employee. By doing so the employer will be in breach of its obligations under Migration legislation.
This levy is managed not by DOHA but the Department of Education and Training (DET) with its main purpose being to contribute to broader skill developments in Australians.
How much is the levy? When is it payable?
The SAF levy amount is dependent upon the size of the employer/business and the proposed period of stay of the overseas worker.
For a small business (annual turnover less than $10 million), they will be required to pay AUD1200 per year or part thereof for nominating an overseas worker under the TSS visa and AUD3,000 one-off payment for nominating an overseas worker under the ENS/RSMS visa.
For businesses with an annual turnover of $10 million or more, they will be required to pay AUD1800 per year or part thereof for nominating an overseas worker under the TSS visa and AUD5,000 one-off payment for nominating an overseas worker under the ENS/RSMS visa.
For example, if a small business is to nominate an overseas worker under the TSS visa for 4 years, the employer is liable to pay a SAF levy of AUD4,800 (AUD1200 x 4).
The levy is payable at the time of lodging a nomination application and is per each overseas worker.
Any nomination application made before 12 August 2018 will be required to comply with the training benchmark requirements but only for a 12 month period.
The employer is still required to keep clear records and spend according to their appropriate training benchmark.
What if the employer has a blend of pre-SAF and post-SAF nominees?
This may occur when there is an employee who wishes to move from a temporary work visa that was made pre-SAF to a permanent visa after 12 August 2018.
For ENS and RSMS visas, the SAF levy will apply to nomination applications lodged after 12 August 2018.
However, for TSS visas, if the employer lodged a nomination application before 12 August 2018, they are required to comply with the old training benchmarks for the 12 month period ending on or before 12 August 2018.
Employers who have nominated an employee prior to 12 August 2018 are still required to keep clear records and spend according to the appropriate training benchmark.
What if the overseas worker is changing employers or occupations?
When an overseas worker is changing employers or occupations, the employer is required to pay the SAF levy at the time of nominating the worker for their specified occupation.
Is it possible to obtain a refund of SAF levy?
Refunds are only available in specific circumstances. These include:
The overseas skilled worker does not arrive/commence employment but the sponsorship and visa applications have been approved.
The overseas skilled worker’s visa application is refused on health or character grounds but the employer’s sponsorship and nomination application were approved.
The nomination fee is refunded.
If a TSS visa holder leaves employment within the first 12 months, when the visa period was longer than 12 months.
For more information, please contact one of our friendly staff at Bambrick Legal today.