In most parts of Southeast Asia and in fact around the world, a ‘work permit’ is a common short term visa that allows you to live and work in a specific country with certain conditions. However in the case of Australia it’s not quite so straightforward.
Due to their relative isolation from the rest of the world (Australia sits above the South Pole, next to New Zealand and then pretty much everyone else is quite far away) there doesn’t exist much over-land or short-commute migration between the countries around it.
Unlike in Europe, where there are mostly open borders for citizens of the member countries of the European Union to work and live freely in each others’ borders, this isn’t the same for Australia.
Although Australia possesses one of the largest land masses on the planet, their population is very small in comparison with the size of the country, with barely 24-25 million people at the time of writing, it has a lower population for the whole country than the city of Shanghai alone.
Australian Residents First
This means that Australia is very protective of their local economy and community and it reflects in the laws that are put in place when it comes to Australia’s equivalent of ‘work visas’.
Before I continue I need to stress that when I say ‘residents’ I don’t mean only Australian citizens – any permanent resident is in the same bucket. Their rules are put in place to protect all permanent and provisional residents as well as Australian citizens.
Australian Work Visas
The equivalent of a work visa would be Australia’s Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) visa type, which has been in the news recently due to the complete overhaul the program has undertaken in 2017.
It has now been abolished and replaced with the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa, which will only come into effect in March 2018.
As the visa changes are still taking place, I can’t comment on them as they are not yet final.
However what we do know is that they will be monitoring this visa type with extra scrutiny, meaning that although a ‘temporary work visa’ is still possible, it will become harder to get.
Misconceptions On Australian Work Visas
It’s Easy For A Company To Become A Sponsor
In countries such as Malaysia and Singapore, there exists a relatively straight forward work permit structure, which looks at the employer and the employee’s qualifications, some fees are put in place and then the application can be processed.
Although there are requirements for proving why you need that member of staff, for very small companies this may not even be required (exemptions exist in Singapore’s EP system for for small companies for example).
In Australia to even be considered a sponsor you will need to first prove that you are training Australian residents to enable them to fill those jobs first. There is a monetary value attached to this, with X% of payroll needing to be spent on local training in the last 12 months.
Although most companies will spend on training their staff, not everyone will be doing it to the threshold needed for sponsoring temporary visas.
There are other conditions, obligations and ongoing fees involved for being an employer-sponsor.
It’s Easy To Get A Job Without A Visa
Because of the general and additional requirements involved in being a sponsor for temporary work visas, most employers won’t consider an application for a position unless you can prove you have working rights.
That includes provisional and permanent visas, which they can do a quick check on using a free service provided by the Australian government. They put your name and passport details into a website and it will let them know if you have valid work rights in Australia.
If you don’t, almost all the time they will ask you to apply for a visa with work rights first, i.e. apply through the skilled migration program.
You May Already Qualify For Skilled Migration
The requirements from an individual’s point of view for these temporary work visas and the skilled migration program are very similar. There are age limits, they look at the skilled migration lists and other factors.
If you already have some of these boxes ticked, you would be better off applying for skilled migration unless you have a very unique case for not doing so.
The Australian government continues to police the temporary work visa stream, so it’s only just going to get harder not easier, the full changes should be announced soon, we will keep you up to date once we know what the final amendments to the visa type are.