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New Financial Year – an Update on Australian Immigration

By 2 July 2024No Comments

Focus on Employer Sponsored Activity  
With increased penalties for employers to be found to be in breach of migration provisions a reminder that 1 July also means increased funding for compliance operations:

  • $100 million to support Australian Border Force operations, immigration compliance activities and sustainment of critical systems supporting those operations and services.
  • $1.9 million to conduct a data-matching pilot between the Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Taxation Office of income and employment data.

Increase in government fees, TSMIT & FWHIT
The beginning of a new financial year usually sees an increase in government visa application and the Fair Work High Income Threshold (FWIT).

As a reminder the TSMIT increased on 1 July 2024 to $73,150. New nomination applications from this date will need to meet the new TSMIT of $73,150 or the annual market salary rate, whichever is higher.

The TSMIT for existing TSS visa holders and TSS nominations lodged before 1 July 2024 remains at $70,000,  however, the earnings must still be reviewed and increased to meet the market rate if that is higher.

Labour Market Testing
Labour Market Testing for nominations now needs to be for at least this new TSMIT amount.

The Fair Work High Income Threshold (FWHIT) has increased to $175,000.

Super Increase
From 1 July 2024, the superannuation guarantee rate has increased to 11.5%.

Government fees
The increase in fees for the visa types most commonly used by employers is as follows:

EOFY staff reviews & TSS visa holders
The new financial year means staff review time for a lot of businesses. It is an important reminder that TSS visa holders have been approved to work in their nominated occupations only. While a promotion within the same occupational stream (and any associated salary increase) will generally comply with their TSS visa conditions, a move into a different role must be carefully considered and may require a new nomination or adjusted market rate. If a new role for a TSS visa holder would fall into a different occupation, a new TSS nomination and visa application will need to be lodged.

Please discuss any proposed role changes with your Ajuria adviser to ensure that your visa holders will continue to be compliant.

Employers are also reminded to ensure TSS visa holders are paid according to their approved salary and at the Australian market rate for the role.

Changes to the TSS visa
A reminder that from 23 November 2024, the Government will reduce the work experience requirement for the Temporary Skill Shortage (subclass 482) visa from two years to one year for all applicants.

Changes to work visa conditions for TSS and Regional 494 employees
As explained in our earlier alerts, from 1 July, TSS subclass 482 and Regional subclass 494 visa holders who cease employment with their sponsoring employer will be able to work for up to 180 days for any employer in any occupation while they seek a new sponsor. If they have not found a new sponsor after 180 days, they will need to depart Australia or face possible cancellation of their visa. Sponsored employees will be able to work in between sponsorships for a total of no more than 365 days in the period of their visa.

Sponsoring employers will still be required to notify of changes in circumstances (including changes in occupation) and cessations of employment within 28 days.

The changes will apply to existing visa holders, as well as those granted a visa on or after 1 July 2024. Any periods a visa holder stopped working for their sponsor before 1 July 2024 will not count towards the new time periods outlined above and those employees will have 180 days from 1 July to find a new sponsor.

The changes will make it easier for employees to move between sponsors. It will also open opportunities for employers to hire sponsored workers in any occupations for up to six months without the need to sponsor them.

Employers who employ a TSS or Regional visa holder will need to carefully track the 180 days and the expiry date of the existing visa carefully to ensure that the employee is not employed beyond 180 days unless:

  • A new nomination has been approved.
  • A new nomination and a new visa has been lodged and a bridging visa granted if the current visa is due to expire within the 180 days (or before the new application is approved).

These changes are part of a package of expected reforms to reduce the reliance of sponsored employees on a particular sponsor and so lessen the chance of worker exploitation. Other changes expected to be announced shortly include allowing sponsored workers to count periods of work for multiple sponsors when calculating the two years of sponsored employment before they can transition to permanent residence and allow sponsors to spread the payment of the SAF levy over the life of the employment.

Who can pay for what
With the increase of government fees and changes whereby sponsored employees can become more mobile it is advisable that employers have clear policies of what they will cover noting that some fees must be covered by the employer:

TSS Visa (Temporary)

Permanent Residence

There may be Fringe Benefits Tax applicable if the business cover fees. Please check with your tax advisors. We also suggest that clawback agreements are in place for any fees  as an employer you can pass on.

Student visa holders
Employers are reminded to do regular VEVO checks and to have clauses in their contracts that clearly require the employee to notify you if anything changes in their temporary visa status affecting their right to work. Whilst there is no prescribed time how often VEVO checks should be carried, the general view is that this should be every 3 to 6 months.

However as widely covered in the media, the student visa refusal rate has increased exponentially. Employers with student visa holders are reminded to do these VEVO checks at least every 3 months to capture any affected by the refusals.

Working Holiday Maker program 
A reminder the Working Holiday Program is constantly expanding with 1 July changes meaning:

  • Under the new arrangements, UK and British National Overseas passport holders will be able to be granted up to three Working Holiday (Sc 417) visas without having to meet any specified work requirements from 1 July 2024.
  • Republic of Philippines passport holder are eligible to apply for a Work and Holiday visa but as with other countries the number of visas are capped.

Processing updates
Permanent Residence: As we reached annual caps for permanent residence grants we saw very few grants in the last financial year quarter. Grants are expected to commence from this week.

400 Visas: A reminder these are processed by the offshore Embassy/High Commission and processing is inconsistent depending on the location of the processing office. We are not seeing a change in processing times which continue to vary from a few days to weeks but we are seeing a higher refusal rate for requests of 6 months.

Medical examination delays: Ongoing delays in obtaining bookings for medical examinations in Australia leading to delays with grants. Visas cannot be granted until medicals are done.

DISCLAIMER This information is current as of 2 July 2024 and is subject to change with little notice. This publication is of a general nature only and should not be used as legal advice. To the extent permissible by law, Ajuria Lawyers and its associated entities shall not be liable for any errors, omissions, defects or misrepresentations in the information or for any loss or damage suffered by persons who use or rely on such information. Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.

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