The Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that historically, more individuals immigrate to Australia rather than leave to take up permanent residence in other countries. By 2020, 30% of the country’s population were noted to have been born overseas.
2021 is the year in which changes that impact on skilled migrants, partners, aged parents, and international workers were implemented. Priority has been given to employer sponsored and business visas as well as to global talent. There are a number of ways in which skilled labour can be sponsored to enter the country however; in order to see if you meet the exacting requirements for a visa, it is important to discuss this with an immigration lawyer in Melbourne CBD.
Employer sponsored visa programmes
The Temporary Shortage Visa (TSS) and the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) are both employer sponsored visas. What both visas allow is for the employer to bring skilled workers to live and work full time in this country, bringing their family with them if they fall under the relevant criteria for selected occupations. These visas are similar at first glance but there are a few relevant distinctions – the main one being that the TSS is as it states in the title a temporary visa. When reviewing which one will be applicable for your business needs and fulfils the government’s criteria, the first point of call is your immigration lawyer.
Benefits of the TSS over the ENS visa
One of the main benefits of the TSS is that it is very easy to access superannuation funds as and when this type of visa holder leaves the country. Once the visa expires, the visa holder applies for the superannuation payment via the Australian Tax Office website. Getting payment back to support them when they return to their home country is a benefit to the employee.
The other key benefit of the TSS relates to the age limit – of which there is none. This means that older (over the age of 45) skilled and experienced workers can apply for a temporary visa and if they are high wage earners, there may be an option for permanent residency.
Disadvantages of the TSS compared to the ENS
The holder of the visa has to ensure they keep their health insurance up while in the country. However, this does not apply if they come from a country that has a reciprocal arrangement for healthcare (known as a RHCA) with Australia. So, for temporary skilled workers coming from the UK, a medical reciprocal arrangement is in place and there is access to limited subsidised health care for medically necessary treatment. However, most TSS visa holders will not have access to Medicare and will need to pay for health insurance.
The TSS visa holder is only allowed to work for the employer who sponsored them and in the occupation code in which they were nominated. Changing employers means a new application which can be time-consuming, and means that the employee faces a lot of restrictions in terms of where they can work. It is not something that would attract employees necessarily if it was difficult for them to move from one employer to another. Dependent TSS visa holders however are not restricted to who they work for and have unlimited work rights in the country.
Enrolling children to a public school if the parent is on a TSS visa means that school fees might apply and these can cost between $5,000 to $6,000 depending on where they live. The other difference is in the length of stay; on the TSS visa holders can stay up to 4 years on the medium or long term occupation list and up to 2 years on the short term occupation list. When making multiple applications under the short term occupation list, difficulties do arise as the holder has to show evidence they are a “genuine temporary entrant.”
Advantages of the ENS compared to the TSS
ENS holders enjoy the benefits of being a permanent resident in Australia. Once the permanent visa is received, the holder is not restricted to working in the nominated occupation or with the nominated employer. This is helpful if their circumstances change in terms of having to move employers.
Usually, they can also enrol with Medicare so do not have to factor in additional health care insurance costs. Once the ENS visa is approved, the holder is also able to sponsor eligible relatives as well such as a spouse or parent. Once in receipt of the ENS, this is one of the usual routes to gaining Australian citizenship after a one-year period if they are eligible. ENS holders can also study in the country and apply for bank loans to buy property without FIRB approval.
Disadvantages of the ENS compared to the TSS
There is a higher requirement for speaking and understanding competent English whereas the TSS would look for a vocational level of understanding. The other key disadvantage is that there is an age limitation for applying for the ENS. There are some limited exceptions, but to be eligible for the ENS the individual must not be aged 45 years or over. To follow up on eligibility requirements and see if the limited exceptions apply, it is worth speaking to an immigration law expert.
One other area to consider is the difference being on an ENS visa means to the financial outgoings of the individual. As an ENS holder, depending on individual circumstances, this can impact on the amount of tax paid. As with any discussions around taxation and tax obligations, it is really important to contact a tax agent as well as review the information available on the Australian Tax Office website.
For guidance and advice around all aspects of Australian migration including family migration and employer nominations, consult a law firm in in Melbourne today to find the best route for your migration plans.