With its booming economy and ever-growing business market, Australia has new projects and professional opportunities emerging by the day.

But equally prone to change are the laws around employment and migration – a major obstacle for local employers and foreign job seekers or employees.


Here’s the latest you need to know in 2020.

Skilled Migration Occupation Lists

Numerous occupations on the Short-Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) and Medium-Long Term Skilled Occupation List (MLTSOL) are flagged for change or removal.

These lists provide the approved occupations for which foreign employees can be sponsored to work in Australia.


Global Talent Employer-Sponsored Program (GTES)

The Department of Home Affairs will continue with its Global Talent program, formerly known as the Global Talent Scheme. The Global Talent (GTES) program allows Australian businesses and startups to employ the best and brightest foreign talent.

The Australian Government especially favours high-tech skills and talent in high-demand industries. As the country continues to focus on economic growth and innovation, foreign talent will be brought in to transfer skills to Australian workers and grow Australian-based businesses.


Skilled Work Visas

Over the years, the range of available work visas has been reduced and a skilled work visa has become considerably more difficult to obtain.

The 457 has been abolished and replaced with the TSS (Temporary Skill Shortage, subclass 482) as of 18 March 2018. The TSS (482) is the most common temporary business visa for skilled foreign nationals. It allows the visa holder to live in Australia temporarily, work full time and bring family members to Australia if they are in a nominated position. However, the TSS is more costly, complex, and has more conditions needed to be met.


Changes to the TSS Visa

Firstly, for those seeking Permanent Residency (PR), you must be in the PR-approved occupation list when applying.

Applicants also need to have worked for 3 years to be eligible to apply.

The Australian Government has additionally introduced a SAF (Skilling Australians Fund) levy, which is payable by the employer once the employee is nominated. The levy fee is $1,200 per year for companies with less than $10M turnover and $1,800 per year for over $10M.

Another major change is the introduction of labour market testing. Employers must now show that an Australian permanent resident could not be found to fill the role. This is done through advertising the position. The only exception to this is if an international trade obligation exemption applies.

Character-qualified provisions are now stronger. The applicant will need to present a police check from every country they have been living in for 12 months accumulatively within the last 10 years.


Looking to Hire Using the TSS?

In short, here’s what you should consider:

  • Your business entity that will sponsor the employee: Australian or overseas entity
  • Skills and qualifications that the employee must hold to get the visa
  • Occupation of your employee
  • The possibility of obtaining permanent residency
  • Processing times


Alternative Visa Options

For shorter secondments to Australia, employers may also consider the Temporary Work Visa – subclass 400 visa.

The ‘400’ or Temporary Work / Short Stay Specialist visa is highly specialised, as the name suggests. It is also strictly short-term; not for ongoing work. The visa is usually valid for 3 months. Only if you present a very strong business case may it be extended to 6 months.


Regional Work Visas & Pathway to PR

As of November 2019, 2 new regional work visa types have come into effect – the subclass 491 and 494. These are known as the Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional, for people sponsored by an employer in regional Australia, and the Skilled Work Regional, for people who are nominated by a state or territory government or sponsored by an eligible family member to live and work in regional Australia.

In November 2022, the Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) will be launched for people who have worked on either of the two visas above for 3 years or more.

The conditions for Permanent Residency will also be updated. These 3 visas will have over 700 occupations, priority processing, up to 5 years’ validity and a pathway to PR.


With continuous and sometimes unforeseen updates, migration, employment, and tax legislation in Australia can give employers a hard time. In order to remain compliant and also explore the opportunities that arise for you and your business, be sure to watch this space!

About the Author:

Monica is a self-confessed grammar nerd and passionate advocate of diversity, equality, and cultural heritage. Communication is her trade and words and languages are her best tools, allowing her to bring creative flair to any kind of content that she creates.
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