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Getting over overseas employment immigration

  • Commercial and Business Law, Immigration Law
  • Christian Tager
  • No Comments
  • April 1, 2011

Getting over overseas employment immigration

Australia has certain industries where overseas staff are needed. Businesses are allowed to recruit and employ staff from overseas (non-residents) with a right to be employed in Australia. This may be on a temporary or permanent basis.

Temporary 457 visas

This subclass 457 visa is valid between 3 months to 4 years and involves 3 steps to obtain the visa for an overseas employee:

  1. Employer applies for the Pre-Qualified Business Sponsorship (PQBS) or Standard Business Sponsorship status;
  2. Employer nominates the position to be filled by the Expatriate;
  3. The prospective employee applies for a Temporary Business (Long Stay) Visa.

Pre-Qualified Business Sponsorship (PQBS) or Standard Business Sponsorship

PQBS is for employers seeking to bring an unlimited number of people to Australia over a two-year period. PQBS status is normally suitable for larger, established businesses.  SBS is for employers seeking to sponsor a specified number of people within a 12 month period. The sponsorship status is valid for the specified number of nominations, or up to 12 months from the date of approval, whichever occurs first.To apply for approval as a business sponsor, the business must provide details to:

  • Show the business is of good standing by providing documents such as business registration, financial statements, annual reports, newsletters etc;
  • Explain how Australia benefits from the business employing expatriates;
  • Demonstrate the commitment of the business to training Australian residents (training courses provided to staff members or future training plan) or introducing new technology or business skills. 


The Employer needs to nominate each of the positions they wish to fill with an expatriate, once the business sponsor status has been obtained. The nomination must relate to an occupation, which meets a minimum skill threshold covering managerial, professional, associate professional and trade occupations. The nominated position must also be remunerated at a minimum salary level equivalent to average weekly earnings.

Visa Application

The person identified to fill the nominated vacancy must apply for a visa to enter or remain in Australia. The location of the nominee determines whether the application is lodged in Australia or overseas. The nominee needs to demonstrate that he/she has qualifications and skills which match that of the nominated position and must be offered employment at a salary of not less than average weekly earnings. The dependent family members of the applicant can be included in the application.

The actual visa application cannot be determined before the approval of the nomination application by the employer.

Permanent 856 and 121 visa

These two subclasses of visas allows sponsorship of a permanent overseas employee to Australia.

The Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) is for Australian employers to recruit, on a permanent basis, highly skilled staff from overseas or temporary residents currently in Australia, when they have been unable to fill a vacancy from within the Australian labour market or through their own training programs.

The ENS process has two stages:

  1. Nomination by an employer; and
  2. Visa application.

Nominating Employer

The nominating employer must be able to demonstrate that:

  • They are operating a genuine business located in Australia;
  • They offer Australian wages and conditions;
  • They are committed to training Australian workers to meet long-term needs;
  • They have a position requiring the appointment of a highly skilled person;
  • They offer the appointment on a full-time basis for at least three years;
  • No Australian citizen or permanent resident can be found for the position (by carrying out labour market testing) or demonstrate that labour market testing is not required in the circumstances of the case.

Highly Skilled Person

A person has to be highly skilled in relation to the work to be performed. The person is required to complete at least three years formal training or equivalent experience and, unless the appointment is exceptional, the person has been employed in work of that kind for at least three years after completing the period of training or experience. The person must also hold, or be eligible to hold, any qualifications necessary to perform the work in Australia.

Visa Application

The Nominee must demonstrate, to the satisfaction of DIMIA that the employee:

  • has the skills relevant to the nominated position;
  • is “highly skilled”, as defined;
  • is under 45 (except in exceptional circumstances);
  • has vocational English;
  • meets health and character requirements.

Upon approval of the application, the nominee will be granted a permanent resident visa.