AUSTRALIA – Skilling Australians Fund Charge requirements & Effect of the Labour Market Testing
At a Glimpse
Australian Labour Market Testing (LMT) requirements became tighter on 12th Aug 2018. Which has affected the Temporary Skilled Shortage (TSS) visa program, requiring suitable advertising to be started within 4 months prior to nomination. Alternate evidence is accepted for ‘select occupations & positions’, enabling employers to submit proposals explaining why an Australian worker is not available to fill the position.
On the same day the Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) charge also came into effect, which requires payment at the time of nomination for TSS or a permanent employer sponsored visa. Refund of SAF payments are only available in very limited situations, although from 17th November 2018, this will include situations where a TSS visa holder terminates employment within the 1st year of their visa.
A better perspective
The rigid way in which LMT must be carried out means that TSS nominations will be rejected where:
- Proof of LMT has not been uploaded at the time of nomination;
- Advertisements that do not include the projected earnings for the nominated position (Not applicable if earnings are above $96,400);
- Select occupation and position nominations are not accompanied by a separate proposal explaining why an Australian worker is not available to fill the position.
There is no facility to seek refund of the SAF charge when the TSS nomination has been rejected. In these cases, a new nomination application will need to be submitted, including additional payment of the SAF charge.
From 17th November 2018, a refund of the SAF charge may be sought where:
- The duration of stay proposed in the TSS nomination was more 12 months or longer (applies to TSS nominations submitted on or after 12th August 2018); and
- The TSS visa was approved and the visa holder terminates employment with the sponsor or an associated entity within one year of commencing employment.
The refund amount will be the SAF charge paid less the amount of the charge that would have been payable if the period of stay proposed were only 1 year.
Processing times & priority processing:
Global visa processing times are published on the Department of Home Affairs’ website and are updated monthly. The current TSS visa processing times are:
- Short-term stream – 43-70 days
- Medium-term stream – 38-66 days
Under the current processing direction, TSS applications are prioritised as follows:
1. Applications submitted by accredited sponsors;
2. Applications submitted for positions located in a regional part of Australia;
3. Applications submitted under the Labour Agreement stream;
4. All other applications.
This means that priority processing of TSS nominations and/or visa applications is only available to Accredited Sponsors. It is no longer possible to request urgent processing of applications submitted by non-Accredited Sponsors, even where there is a strong business case.
Removal of priority process requests means that obtaining & sustaining Accredited Sponsor status is far more important than before. Added benefits of accreditation include the ability for Accredited Sponsors to advertise on their website for LMT purposes and streamlined processing of nominations.