Budget 2018-2019: Immigration Changes

josie By Josie Marr
Wednesday, 09 May 2018

On 9 May 2017 the Government released the 2017-2018 Budget with initiatives affecting visa applicants, including the Skilling Australians Fund (SAF).

The Migration Amendment (Skilling Australians Fund) Bill 2017 provides for the SAF and was passed through the Senate yesterday, 8 May 2018. We will know when the SAF is in effect once this Bill has been passed through Parliament

Training Levy for Sponsoring Employers

SAF is a training levy that will be payable by employers sponsoring temporary and permanent visas. It will be administered by the Department of Education and Training and will fund training of Australians in apprenticeship and trainee programs to develop skills of local workers.

Organisations covered by a Minister of Religion Labour Agreement or a company specific Labour Agreement covering certain nominated religious occupations are exempt from having to pay the SAF.

The SAF levies are summarised here:

Small Business Large Business (turnover $10m or more)
TSS $1,200 $1,800
ENS/RSMS $3,000 $5,000

It was also announced that a number of provisions to refund SAF payments will be available:

  • If the visa is approved but, the employee does not start work with the sponsoring employer
  • If the employer's sponsorship is approved but, the employee's visa application is refused due to health or character reasons
  • If an employee was granted a TSS visa for more than 12 months and ended their employment with within the first 12 months of sponsorship

Once the SAF is in effect it will replace the current training benchmarks for employers who use the TSS, ENS and RSMS programs.

Although the levies will impose additional costs for many businesses, it may also make it more straight forward for employers to comply with a training obligation.

Labour Market Testing Requirements

The Migration Amendment (Skilling Australians Fund) Bill 2017 also includes Labour Market Testing (LMT) criteria, now a requirement in most Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa applications.

Of important note are:

  • LMT must be conducted no more than 4 months prior to lodgement of a nomination application
  • Advertisements used to evidence LMT must run for at least 4 weeks
  • An independent review of the SAF is to start 18 months from the date the SAF takes effect and that review is to be completed within 6 months

When do the changes come into effect?

The Migration Amendment (Skilling Australians Fund) Bill 2017 has been passed through the Senate but, is yet to be passed by Parliament so the date in which these changes take effect is yet to be confirmed.

Conclusion

The Budget has confirmed that employers will have higher transaction costs when sponsoring overseas staff. If you would like more information on how the budget changes will affect you, please book a consultation with one of our advisors.

References

Migration Amendment (Skilling Australians Fund) Bill 2017

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