Is your business ready to tap into global talent and hire overseas workers in Australia?
It’s no secret that Australian companies are facing massive talent shortages.
Construction, manufacturing, sales, hospitality, and the administrative industry make up the top five sectors that have been hit hardest with staff shortages.
According to the Australian Financial Review, the country’s labor shortage stems from either a lack of applicants for open roles or a lack of appropriate skills of those who apply.
If you, too, are struggling to find Australian staff to work in your business, read on.
In this article, we explain how to hire overseas workers in Australia. Plus, we outline the requirements you must meet as an employer.
Steps Required to Hire Overseas Workers in Australia
To hire overseas workers in Australia, you have two different options. The first one is to employ a foreign national already in the country under a valid work visa. the second one is to sponsor a worker who lives overseas.
Any local company can sponsor and hire foreign employees in Australia, including companies who are party to a Labor Agreement.
Labor agreements are established through a partnership between the Australian government and companies. These agreements allow qualifying businesses to sponsor foreign workers under certain conditions.
To learn more about labor agreements, head over to the official website of the Australian Government – Department of Home Affairs.
This guide focuses on the steps you must take when sponsoring a worker who resides outside of Australia.
Step 1: Show Evidence of a Labor Market Test
When hiring overseas workers in Australia under certain visa types, you need to show evidence of your inability to find local workers who match your needs. To do so, you must advertise the role in Australia for at least 4 weeks.
From October 2020 onwards, the Australian Government mandates that for specific visa categories, companies must list the position on the Workforce Australia website.
This obligation is in addition to the existing requirement of posting two more advertisements on recruitment websites, magazines, the company’s website, and various other platforms.
Depending on the method of recruitment, evidence of a Labor Market test may include copies of job advertisements, invoices for recruitment services, recruiting metrics, etc.
However, under certain conditions, you may be exempt from the Labor Market Testing processes.
For example, you do not have to conduct a Market Labor test for certain visa types if your prospective employee is a national of China, Japan, Thailand, Chile, South Korea, New Zealand, or Singapore.
Furthermore, you do not have to test the market if your prospective employee is working for a company associated with your company. This rule applies if the foreign company is operating in Chile, China, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, or any nation belonging to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
To learn more, please check the following legislative instrument: Migration (LIN 18/036: Period, manner and evidence of labor market testing) Instrument 2018.
Step 2: Ensure the Position Is on the List of Eligible Skilled Occupations
The eligible skilled occupations list aims to attract workers with experience in sectors where there is a labor shortage.
The list highlights the highly in-demand positions across the country. It also outlines the various Australia work visa types that foreign workers can apply for. You can find the list of eligible skilled occupations in Australia here.
If the position you want to fill is not on the list of eligible skilled occupations, you might be able to nominate a position. This refers to the process of nominating qualifying overseas workers for a labor agreement visa.
As mentioned before, labor agreements are negotiated between the employer and the Australian Department of Home Affairs (the Department).
Typically, labor agreements are in effect for 5 years. They enable foreign nationals to work in Australia under different visa programs.
To learn more, see the visa options for skilled sponsored workers.
Step 3: Ensure that Your Prospective Employee Is Eligible to Apply for a Visa
Before moving forward with the Australia work visa application, you must check if your prospective employee is eligible for a work visa.
To do so, you need to use the Visa Entitlement Verification Online system (VEVO).
The VEVO is an online service that allows you to check visa conditions and the right to work for foreign nationals.
Undertaking a VEVO check is an important step that can prevent you from employing illegal workers in Australia.
You can get a VEVO check by visiting https://online.immi.gov.au/evo/firstParty?actionType=query.
Step 4: Become an Approved Sponsor
To be able to legally hire overseas workers in Australia, you need to become an approved sponsor.
As an employer, you have the option to choose between the following types of sponsorship:
- Standard Business Sponsor – This status is for companies who are eligible to sponsor workers under a Temporary Skill Shortage visa (subclass 482) or a Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional visa (subclass 494).
- Accredited Sponsor – This status is typically for larger companies who demonstrate a significant and consistent need for visa sponsorship.
- Temporary activities sponsor – This status is for companies who are eligible to sponsor workers under a Temporary Activity visa (subclass 408), a Training visa (subclass 407), or a Temporary Work (International Relations) visa (subclass 403).
Alternatively, you can become a nominator (labor agreement sponsor). This allows you to sponsor a skilled worker as described above (see “Step 2: Ensure the Position Is on the List of Eligible Skilled Occupations”).
Please note that your company must fulfill specific criteria to attain approved sponsorship status. Some of these criteria involve maintaining an Australian presence for a minimum of 6 months and providing evidence of certain revenue and cash flow.
Additionally, you must pay the Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) levy. The SAF aims to support training programs designed to improve the skills of Australian nationals. The National Partnership on the Skilling Australians Fund is managing the contribution levy.
Payment of the SAF levy is mandatory regardless of the type of sponsorship. Only companies who submit a nomination for the positions of Minister of Religion and Religious Assistant are exempted from paying the SAF levy.
The amount to pay depends on the business size and proposed period of stay of a foreign national in Australia.
To learn more, see the costs of sponsoring overseas workers in Australia.
Step 5: Your Future Employee Applies for a Work Visa
After completing all the above steps, it becomes the responsibility of your future employee to apply for a work visa. They must submit the application to the appropriate Australian Embassy or Consulate.
Do note that every work visa for Australia has its own requirements.
For example, if you nominate an employee for a position in your company, they may need to complete a skills assessment from the competent authority. You can find the list of assessing authorities here.
In most cases, the nominated employee also needs to show proof of their skills, qualifications, and work experience.
Additionally, they might need to undergo a medical checkup and meet certain character requirements. You can find the character requirements in section 501 of the Migration Act 1958.
Typically, evidence of good character involves having a clear criminal record and truthfully answering a set of questions.
The processing time for some work visas Most work visas is 12 months. However, this may vary based on the visa type and individual cases.
Hiring Overseas Workers in Australia: Final Considerations
Companies seeking to hire overseas workers in Australia need to ensure that they are complying with the relevant immigration laws in the country. Additionally, they must comply with the local laws of the jurisdiction where the business operates.
In accordance with the Migration Act 1958, it is a criminal offense to employ an individual who does not have the legal right to work in Australia.
Please take into consideration that foreign workers are entitled to the same benefits as Australian workers. You can find these benefits outlined in the National Employment Standards (NES).
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