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Australia – Training Benchmark Requirement Eliminated in Favor of Increased Training Fund Contribution Fees, Effective March 2018

19 May

The Australian Government has confirmed that it will establish a “Skilling Australians Fund” by March 2018 that will replace the current training benchmarks scheme for Standard Business Sponsors. This fund is intended to support the new Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa category, which will also begin in March 2018.

Under the rules for the new fund, Business Sponsors will need to make contributions to the fund based on the company’s annual turnover amount and the number of foreign workers they sponsor on a TSS visa. The new TSS visa fees will be levied on a per visa basis and will need to be paid each year that the visa is valid. It is not yet clear if the visa fees will need to be paid at filing, once the visa is approved, or annually. There will also be new mandatory one-time contributions for companies that sponsor employees for permanent residence.

The new “Skilling Australians Fund” fees are as follows:

Small Businesses (Turnover of AUD 10 million per year or less)

  • Temporary (TSS) visa: AUD 1,200 per year of visa validity
  • Permanent resident visa: AUD 3,000 one-time fee per applicant  Medium/Large Businesses (Turnover of more than AUD 10 million per year)
  • Temporary (TSS) visa: AUD 1,800 per year of visa validity
  • Permanent resident visa: AUD 5,000 one-time fee per applicant

Additionally, current visa application fees will increase on July 1, 2017. The new visa application fees will be as follows:

  • Subclass 457 Visa (being replaced by TSS Visa in March 2018):
    • Primary applicant and any adult dependents: AUD 1,080 per applicant (currently AUD 1,060 per applicant)
    • Child dependent: AUD 270 (currently AUD 265)
  •  Subclass 186 (Permanent Resident) Visa:
    • Primary applicant: AUD 3,670 (currently AUD 3,600)
    • Adult dependent: AUD 1,835  (currently AUD 1,800)
    • Child dependent: AUD 920  (currently AUD 900)

IMPACT OF CHANGES ON BUSINESSES These fee increases will significantly increase the cost of sponsoring foreign nationals to work in Australia. These changes were intentionally implemented by the Australian government to encourage employers to hire Australian nationals.   Since the fees will not go into effect until March 2018, we recommend that companies review their future business needs to determine:

  1. whether there are upcoming projects or staffing needs where it would make sense to obtain a 2 or 4-year 457 visa now; and,
  2. whether the company wants to sponsor current 457 visa holders for permanent residence.

Foster will continue to track changes in the requirements and fees under Australian immigration laws for their impact to businesses.  We will provide further updates via our Firm’s website at www.fosterglobal.com and in future Immigration Updates©.