Many businesses are curious by the idea of sponsoring employees from abroad.
At face value, it sounds complicated, time-consuming and expensive. Australian business owners also believe that they can’t sponsor foreign workers because they’re too small, don’t have international connections or can’t afford the costs of sponsorship.
The truth is that many businesses miss out on the opportunity to recruit foreign talent simply because they don’t know the facts. This guide points out some of the common myths surrounding the sponsorship of foreign workers in Australia, and shows how practically any business of any size benefits from international recruitment.
Myth 1 – My business is too small to sponsor foreign workers
This is an easy myth to get caught up in. Business owners often figure that sponsoring foreign workers is directly connected to size, profit or how long it’s been operating. In other words, they figure that there’s no option to hire workers from abroad unless the business is large or well established.
While hiring foreign employees and operating a cross-border business complement one another, it’s not the only circumstances in which visa sponsorship occurs. Businesses often hire foreign talent to fill gaps in the local labour force. They may also hire workers from abroad to get different perspectives and experiences, access to new customers, and to diversify their workforce.
No matter what your motivation is for foreign hiring, businesses of almost any size can sponsor foreign workers. One of the first steps in the process is obtaining Standard Business Sponsorship (SBS), Overseas Business Sponsorship (OBS) or Temporary Activities Sponsorship (TAS) from the Department of Home Affairs for the organisation.
At a basic level, your business needs to have a legitimate structure, be in a sound financial situation and be operating lawfully. There are no explicit requirements about size, turnover, or revenue. In some cases, we have helped pre-revenue startups to successfully sponsor workers because they can prove that they have a solid business plan and there’s a shortage of necessary local talent. If you have a recruitment need that you can’t fulfil locally, it’s worth investigating the alternatives.
Myth 2 – The process is too complicated to be worth it
The sponsorship process for foreign workers sounds daunting, and there’s no doubt that you’ll have to deal with paperwork along the way. But thousands of businesses complete the process each year, and if your need for a given skillset is large enough, you’ll be open to broadening the talent pool and recruiting foreign workers already in Australia or based internationally.
Once you have found the candidate you want to hire, the process for sponsoring that person can be broken down into seven distinct steps, and there are requirements and sub-steps within each milestone. A business applying to sponsor a foreign worker must:
- Show that there isn’t anyone in Australia who is capable of filling your vacant role. This is often done through labour market testing (although some cases may be exempt).
- Verify that the skillset you’re looking for is on Australia’s skilled occupation list, and if it isn’t, you must negotiate a specialised labour agreement.
- Find a visa that will work for the employee and fits your needs. For professional roles, immigration will look at the candidate’s work experience and education to ensure that they’re eligible.
- Work with an immigration partner to ensure that your business is eligible to act as a sponsor.
- Apply for sponsorship status, if the business does not hold approval to sponsor already.
- Nominate the employee for sponsorship.
- Apply for the work visa for the employee
Overall, the process takes time and delays can happen if the steps aren’t completed properly. Some parts of the process must be completed prior to the application date, others can be completed during the process. However, the benefit of having the right person to meet your business needs and who will be loyal to your business for at least the 2 to 4-year visa term or even longer far outweighs the time and cost of the application.
If you’re ready to sponsor a worker and you want professional help to manage the legalities for you, The Migration Agency has specialist immigration business partners to support businesses with establishing an immigration program and securing work visas for employees.
Myth 3 – The fees are prohibitively expensive
There are costs associated with sponsoring foreign workers that fall into three general categories: the professional costs of the lawyer or registered migration agent, the Government application fees and payments to the Skilling Australian Funds Levy (SAF), a levy that helps equip Australians with technical or vocational skills.
The amount that a business pays to the SAF varies depending on the business size (under or over $10 million turnover), the occupation, visa type and the length of time that the employee is sponsored for. The SAF levy starts from $1,200 up to $1,800 per year of sponsorship. Between the application costs and SAF, it’s true that employers need to make an investment, but it’s often true for hiring any employee.
The costs of sponsorship aren’t as prohibitive as you may think considering the benefits a sponsored worker can bring to your business.
There are many benefits to sponsoring foreign workers, no matter the size of your business. If you’re an HR manager or a business owner, contact The Migration Agency today for a confidential discussion about your eligibility to become an approved sponsor and to hire employees on visas.