The standard of living in Australia is considered a global benchmark and to be able to work and live in Australia is very much sought after by many around the globe. For sponsors, having the agency to enable others to enjoy a career here is a wonderful privilege.
That said, there are obligations that you must meet as a visa sponsor. These obligations are in place for fairness and as a means to safeguard both visa holders from exploitation and Australian workers from displacement. Compliance is required throughout the validity period of a standard business sponsorship and for as long as there is a 457/482 visa holder within your staffing population. Some of these obligations may apply beyond the term of sponsorship approval.
As a sponsor you must:
- Cooperate with inspectors and the Department for checks on compliance
- Ensure equivalent terms and conditions of employment
- Pay travel costs to enable sponsored people to leave Australia
- Pay costs to remove unlawful non-citizens
- Keep and maintain records of employment for the 482 visa holder(s)
- Provide records and information to the Minister
- Notify the Department of Home Affairs when certain events occur
- Ensure the visa holder participates in the nominated occupation, program or activity
- Not recover from, transfer or charge certain costs to another person
- Provide training to Australians and permanent residents
- Not engage in discriminatory recruitment practices.
Find out more about how you can be in full compliance with your obligations here.
The changing nature of the Australian workforce
The COVID-19 pandemic has precipitated certain events over the last six months that have made a serious dent not just on the economy but life in general. A big part of these ramifications is the reevaluation of business models to accommodate the challenges posed by the pandemic.
Corporate adjustments have become necessary to ensure that businesses can trade out. If your organization has made some changes to the business, we remind you about to always notify the Department of Home Affairs when certain events occur.
COVID-19 and Temporary employment changes
From late September 2020, sponsors must notify the department in writing of “temporary changes” to the employment arrangements of the person you sponsor, such as:
- Reduced working hours
- Temporary lay off/stand down
- Reduced salary
- Leave without pay
- Other change – eg. remote working arrangements
This applies to all businesses including companies, individuals, partnerships, and unincorporated associations.
What happens when you do not comply?
Your role as a visa sponsor is critical. Not only do you contribute to the growth of your business and of the national economy as a whole; you also have a hand in determining the quality of life of the individual whose work visa you’re sponsoring. Therefore, you must exercise your compliance fully and conscientiously.
Failure to do so would merit substantial penalties and sanctions including:
- Administrative Penalties
- bar you from sponsoring additional visa holders for a specified time
- not approve your application for sponsorship for further visas
- cancel all of your existing sponsorship approvals
- if you are an accredited sponsor, remove your accredited sponsor status
- Civil Penalties – issue an infringement notice of up to:
- AUD1,332 for individuals and AUD6,660 for bodies corporate per obligation breach for a first notice
- AUD2,664 for individuals and AUD13,320 for bodies corporate per obligation breach for subsequent notices
- apply to a court for a civil penalty order of up to AUD66,000 for a corporation and AUD13,320 for an individual for each failure
- In addition, you could also have sanctions imposed if:
- you provide false or misleading information to the DHA or the Administrative Appeals Tribunal
- you no longer satisfy the criteria for approval as a sponsor or for variation of a term of that approval
- you have been found by a court or competent authority to have contravened a Commonwealth, state or territory law
- the person you have sponsored breaks a law relating to the licensing, registration or membership needed to work in the nominated position
Details on the Australia-NZ travel bubble
New Zealanders can now enter Australia under a limited “Trans-Tasman bubble” deal. This is the Commonwealth Government’s first step to re-opening the country to the world in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Talks of this travel partnership first emerged in April but scheduled enactment was postponed due to flare-ups of the coronavirus and internal border disputes.
Here are the main elements of the Trans-Tasman travel bubble:
1. Quarantine-free travel for NZ citizens to Australia
- NZ citizens can enter Australia without going through quarantine provided they have not been in a designated COVID-19 hotspot 14 days before the trip.
- The definition of a COVID-19 hotspot is three locally acquired cases over a rolling three-day average.
2. The when and where of the travel bubble
- Will take effect from 16 October 2020.
- Only New South Wales and the Northern Territory will open their borders for New Zealanders since they are the only states that expressed interest in the deal at the last National Cabinet meeting.
- Victoria remains in isolation and will not open borders for other Australian states and NZ citizens.
3. The travel deal is one-way
- The system will initially be one-way which means Australians cannot travel to New Zealand for the time being.
- Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack says there is no date set for when Australians can travel to New Zealand.
- New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says it is still too early for their country to allow entry to Australians.
If you have questions concerning your sponsorship obligations or difficulty fulfilling them, do not hesitate to contact us as we would be glad to help. Call us +61 2 8234 8400 or email email@example.com.