For some Australian companies, applying for visas to welcome new staff to the country, and to their business, is a straightforward process, and one they undertake regularly.
For others, especially those new to navigating the often-complex world of immigration, a lack of understanding of changing regulations, common obstacles and detailed requirements, can make the already challenging process much longer and more difficult than it needs to be.
Immigration Business Partner at The Migration Agency, Vanessa Trang, works with companies at both ends of this spectrum, facilitating comprehensive and expert visa applications.
“The visa application process can be difficult for some companies, under the best of circumstances,” Vanessa explained.
“But when Covid restrictions started to impact Australia, the addition of travel exemptions really increased the complexity of recruiting new overseas staff, even into crucial positions for which our talent pool was already lacking, here at home.”
One of Vanessa’s most testing projects during Covid, came when she worked with a technology company that focused on financial regulation.
Challenges for start ups and young technology companies
The client Vanessa worked with was more established than a start-up, and it was publicly listed, but still in quite early stages of the business lifecycle. It had a very specific purpose and remit, centred on managing financial compliance and crime.
“This client came to us by referral from an existing, happy referral partner, as a lot of our clients do. They were purely looking to have an application reviewed prior to lodgement. At that stage, the company was in an important period of growth, and it needed to bring in an ICT Business Analyst on a subclass 482 visa from one of its overseas offices, to work on a crucial project.”
The client had commenced the visa application with another agency, but due to the relationship TMA had with their HR firm, they requested The Migration Agency take over the whole application – undertaking a review of the file prior to lodgement and preparing the additional travel exemption.
While the application did have some gaps in it, like many newer companies, one of the client’s main challenges was reassuring the Government it was in a sound financial position, to continue to support this transferred recruit.
“The requirement to build a strong case for financial viability, specific to supporting employees, is always part of the process. During Covid, as the country spent billions supporting those out of work due to the virus and restrictions, it became an even greater point of scrutiny,” Vanessa shared.
“For any start-up or small company aiming to bring in new recruits or existing employees from overseas, this needs to be a big consideration. They need to ensure they have a strong evidence base and can really show their employees will pose no financial risk to our economy once they arrive.”
Navigating rapid change and regulatory modification
While one factor that affected the visa application was the financial case, a second factor at that time was aligning the role to an ANZSCO occupation and successfully being granted a travel exemption as a critical skill or sector.
“During Covid, you really couldn’t get a visa in this situation if you didn’t have an approved travel exemption,” Vanessa shared. “To get the exemption, we had to prove very robustly that the candidate they were bringing in had a unique skill set that the client wouldn’t be able to find here. We had to show that she would contribute to the economic recovery of Australia and that this outweighed any risk associated with allowing her to enter the country.”
The Migration Agency differs from other firms in that, in addition to expertise and experience, it also takes a much more relationship-driven approach to working with clients, rather than just viewing the project or interaction as transactional.
“We worked closely with the client business to really understand its need, the purpose of the position they were aiming to fill, and what made this particular employee so specifically suited to it. Likewise, we created a strong relationship with the overseas employee to deep dive into her experience, skill set and the projects she had worked on, relevant to the business.”
“What we found was this particular employee had worked on very specialist projects that aligned closely with the projects she was needed for in Australia – in fact she was one of very few people who had the experience, knowledge and intimate awareness of their client to hit the ground running in the role.”
“Any other candidate would have needed training and time to learn, setting the company back, impacting its ability to earn and potentially putting it at risk.”
Vanessa and The Migration Agency used this information to really strengthen the case for the exemption, and illustrate more persuasively how this person, in this role, would help the Australian economy regain ground after Covid.
“An important part of our role as a trusted advisor and business partner, is to keep up-to-date with all the latest changes and requirements – and Covid showed just how quickly major regulations can change in ways that significantly impact the visa application process. We need to know what’s happening, why, and how to navigate that as efficiently and effectively as possible, so we can mitigate risks and save clients time and money.”
The Migration Agency difference
The visa application process is different for every person and every business, because the supporting evidence or case is unique to the need of that business or reasons for that person’s migration.
The Migration Agency works to build a strong and open relationship with clients and visa applicants, in order to understand how the business impacts the landscape and broader economy around it, and inform a detailed application supported by compelling arguments.
“We are here to help our clients’ businesses grow, we need to be agile and able to adapt quickly, curious and motivated to investigate, knowledgeable so we can pre-empt rather than just react to issues, and above all trustworthy, so our clients know their process is safe in our hands.”
Vanessa is an Immigration Business Partner at TMA. The daughter of migrants, her keen interest in immigration was piqued at an early age. After undertaking international studies and law at UNSW and working in the immigration industry during that time, she worked for big brands such as Fragomen and KPMG, before pursuing a more relationship-driven and strategic role and finding her way to The Migration Agency.