logo

Employer Sponsored Visas


The key legislative intention with the employer sponsored visa scheme is to address skill shortages in Australia’s labor market. These visas are limited to areas where it is unable to source Australian citizens or permanent residents with equivalent credentials. When sponsoring foreign workers in this scheme, there are certain obligations to be discharged by the sponsoring employer and the employee being sponsored.

Sponsorship and Nomination

To sponsor foreign workers for migration purposes, they firstly need to be approved by the Department of Home Affairs as sponsors of appropriate sorts. The approved sponsors may nominate a skilled worker for a relevant visa. Types of sponsorship are classified into 2 categories:

  • Standard Business Sponsor – Subclass 186, Subclass 482, Subclass 494
  • Temporary Activities Sponsor – Subclass 407 and certain streams of Subclass 408

Sponsorship applications vary in their prerequisites and processes depending on the categories, but employers should prove that they are lawfully operating a business in Australia. Start-ups may qualify with additional requirements being satisfied. Certain employers are may not be qualified if they have previously abused the sponsorship regime.

Costs to Employers

As aforementioned, employment visas are primarily to assist employers in obtaining the necessary skills that are not readily available in the Australian labor market. In return, the employers need to match salary levels to the foreign workers which would have been paid to Australian citizens with the equivalent skills and make financial contribution to improve the Australian labor market for which this contribution is often referred to as levy to the Skills Australians Fund (SAF) levy.

Furthermore, the employers should bear the application costs for sponsorship approval and nomination. Any attempt to pass on these costs to the employee or have the employee reimburse the employer would likely result in refusal of the visa and may prevent the employer from sponsoring foreign workers for a certain number of years in the future. Employees who pay to arrange the sponsorship and nomination may find themselves in direct contravention of the statutory provisions and thus ineligible from applying for future employer sponsored visas of up to 3 years.

Eligible Occupations

In theory, foreign workers with skills in which Australia experiences shortage is eligible to apply for an employment visa. For this end, the Department devises lists of eligible occupations to reflect the current state of the market. These lists of occupations differ across subclasses and subject to constant amendments. When a visa involves a nomination by a State or Territory authority, variances of the eligible occupations may be more stark across different States and Territories.

Subclasses of Employer Sponsored Visas

482 – Temporary Skill Shortage

This is a temporary visa used to sponsor foreign skilled workers for up to 4 years per visa if the occupation is prescribed in the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List, or 2 years if the occupation is in the Short-term Skilled Occupation List. The employers must demonstrate genuine attempts to source workers domestically first unless international exemptions apply.

186 – Employer Nominated Scheme

This is a permanent visa whereby foreign skilled workers are sponsored by an eligible Australian employer. The available streams under this visa include streams of labour agreement, direct entry and temporary residence transition.

494 – Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional

This is a temporary visa with a stream where employers in regional part of Australia may utilize to sponsor foreign skilled workers on a provisional basis. The visa holders, including secondary applicants, need to live, work and study only in a regional area of Australia.

400 – Temporary Work

This is a short-term and temporary visa that allows foreign workers with either specialized skills or the ability to advance Australia’s interest to undertake one-off employment in Australia for up to 6 months. Majority of the applicants relate to the highly specialized work stream as opposed to Australia’s interest stream, where it should be proven that the applicants possess highly specialized skills, attributes, expertise or proprietary knowledge.

407 – Training

This is a short-term and temporary visa that allows foreign nationals to undertake structured work-based training program with an Australian employer. The purpose of undertaking the occupational training program may be to satisfy the requirements for trade or professional licensing and registration, or enhance the applicant’s skills.

408 – Temporary Activity

This is a short-term and temporary visa that allows foreign skilled workers to undertake specific types of work in Australia on a short-term basis. This visa consists of 10 streams where each stream facilitates a precise type of work, such sporting, entertainment, research or religious activities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you help me find an Australian employer?

  • We do not assist people in finding an Australian employer who can sponsor. It is not advisable to seek this form of assistance from a registered migration agent. Not only is there likely a conflict of interests, but applicants who are introduced to employers by a migration agent may well be at risk of exploitation, underpayment, extortion and visa refusal.

I own a small business. Can I sponsor my relative?

  • It is possible for an Australian employer to sponsor a relative, but this fact should be known to the Department who will likely scrutinise the intention of employment to be in place. If your relative lacks the requisite skills or if you do not have a genuine business need to employ your relative, it will not be possible to sponsor your relative.

If I purchase a small business in Australia, can I sponsor myself?

  • Although not forbidden under law, self-sponsorship is subject to extreme scrutiny. If it is determined that your business was primarily created in order to achieve a migration outcome, it is likely your application will fail. This path is highly inadvisable.

My employer wants me to pay them to nominate me. Is this legal?

  • It is unlawful for an employer sponsor to accept a benefit from a visa applicant in exchange for sponsorship. Those who engage in this practice will likely be subject to application refusal, visa cancellation and potentially a 3 year ban on employer sponsored visa applications.

My employer wants me to reimburse them for the cost of sponsorship. Is that legal?

  • Employers are not permitted to pass on the costs of sponsorship approval, nomination or the SAF levy to applicants. If there is evidence that these fees were paid for by the applicant, the application will be refused.