Changes to Employer Sponsored PR Visas & Training Benchmarks – 1 July 2017

There have been a number of changes to the Employer Sponsored Permanent Residence visa program (ENS and RSMS) as part of the 1 July changes.

This article outlines the changes and briefly explains the impact for applicants.

These changes are part of a series of reforms announced by the Government in April 2017 with implementation commencing on 19 April 2017 and will be completed in March 2018.

Note: the 1 July changes apply to all new applications lodged on or after 1 July 2017 (they are not retrospective). All applications that were lodged before 1 July but not determined by 1 July 2017 will continue to be assessed under the pre-1 July rules.

Summary of Changes

Changes to Training Benchmarks

The Department has released new policy with clearer definitions as to what can be counted towards training benchmark expenditure.

In particular, the following types of training expenditure can be included:

  • Payments for Australian employees to undertake a formal course of study, including any reasonable and necessary associated costs
  • Payments to Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) to deliver in person training to Australian employees that will contribute to an Australian Qualifications Framework qualification (ie: Certificate or Diploma level qualification)
  • Purchase of an e-Learning platform or standalone training software
  • Payments to cover the salary of Australian employees who are engaged as apprentices or trainees under a formal training contract, or structured graduate program for up to 2 years
  • The salary of an employee whose sole role is to provide training to Australian employees
  • Expenditure to attend conferences for professional development

The following types of training cannot be included:

  • Training that is not relevant to the industry in which the business operates
  • On the job training that is not identified above as applicable expenditure
  • Training undertaken by principals in the business (or their family members)
  • Training that has a very low skill level having regard to the characteristics and size of the business
  • Induction training
  • Staff salaries apportioned to time spent undertaking online or other training courses
  • Purchase of software for use in normal duties
  • Membership fees, purchase of books, journals or magazine subscriptions
  • Attending conferences for purposes other than professional development

Next Steps

Employers should take note of the new eligibility criteria for permanent residence applications and where necessary, take steps to secure a more permanent visa for an employee as soon as possible if the pathway will be removed in March 2018.

Employers who are approved sponsors should also ensure that their training expenditure meets the new policy guidelines from 1 July 2017. From March 2018 sponsors will no longer be required to meet the training benchmarks with these arrangements to be replaced by a requirement to pay a contribution to the new Skilling Australians Fund (SAF).

For further information on these changes or to better understand how they effect your business, please contact The Migration Agency on or (02) 8896 6056.

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