Enterprise Migration Agreements for Resources Projects

By Mark Webster
11 May 2011

Enterprise Migration Agreements (or EMAs) will be labour agreements which apply to large resources projects. They will facilitate sponsorship of overseas workers for 457 visas, and were part of the recommendations of the National Resources Sector Employment Taskforce. Further details of how they will operate were released on 10 May 2011 as part of the Federal Budget 2011-12.

Main Features of Enterprise Migration Agreements

The main features of the EMAs will be as follows:
  • The EMA will be an umbrella agreement to be negotiated by the owner of the resources project
  • To be eligible for an EMA, the project must be valued at $2 billion or more, and involve 1,500 workers at peak
  • The agreement will be between the project owner and the Department of Immigration but other groups, such as unions, will most likely need to be consulted
  • The Department of Immigration will seek to process EMA applications within 3 months of receiving a complete application.
  • Once approved, subcontractors can apply to sponsor under the EMA
  • Employers will be able to sponsor occupations outside the 457 occupations list under an EMA. However, a cap will be placed on the number of employees sponsored outside the 457 occupations list.
  • Employers will need to show that they pay sponsored workers the market rate for the position, and there is no mention of a concession to the English language requirement.

Sponsorship Obligations under EMAs

The employer will assume significant responsibilities under an EMA, including:
  • Project owners must negotiate training targets for occupations in known or anticipated shortage
  • Subcontractors would be subject to the usual training benchmark for 457 sponsorship (ie 1% of wages and salaries spent on training, or 2% paid into industry training funds)
  • Project owners will need to show that they have attempted to fill the positions locally and can only rely on overseas workers for supplementary requirements


At first glance, there seems to be very little advantage to an EMA over Standard Business Sponsors (SBS) for 457 visas.

In particular, an SBS is likely to be processed faster and with far less documentation and than an EBA, and no individual negotiations are required for an SBS. As a benchmark, the negotiation process for labour agreements takes a minimum of 9 months, and in many cases much longer.

Sponsorship obligations are likely to be much lower and easier to comply with for SBS than EBA, with less onerous training and labour market testing requirements.

457s for resource projects sponsored under an SBS will still be eligible for the 5 business day turnaround recommended by the National Resources Sector Employment Taskforce.

As a result, it is likely that an EBA would only be considered if an employer is seeking to sponsor for occupations not on the 457 occupations list, or where pressured to do so by a union.

For more information on other changes, please visit our Immigration Portfolio Budget 2011-12 Announcement page.

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