What is the Skilling Australians Fund for the 482 (TSS) visa?

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If you were previously involved in sponsoring employees under the old 457 visa regime, you would be intimately familiar with the requirements around ‘Training Benchmarks’ A and B.

These requirements stipulated that you spend a minimum amount (as a percentage of payroll) on training your Australian workers or, alternatively, a contribution to an industry training fund dedicated to training Australian workers more generally.

Thankfully for many, the new subclass 482 visa rules have simplified these requirements. Now, rather than demonstrate past compliance with these benchmarks, employers need only commit to making a flat-rate contribution to the newly established ‘Skilling Australians Fund’. The amount of contribution depends upon the revenue of the business and the number of sponsorships it intends to make.

As of May 2018, the amount is:

  • Companies with turnover greater than $10 million: $1,800 for each year of the TSS visa;
  • Companies with turnover less than $10 million: $1,200 for each year of the TSS visa.

The levy is payable at the time the nomination is lodged.

For employers wishing to make multiple sponsorships under the 482 program, the amount does reach a cap, which is, for the financial year ending 30 June 2018:

  • $8,000 for TSS visanominations (regardless of the occupation list)
  • $5,500 for permanent residency visa nominations (186or 187 visas, through Temporary Residency Transition or Direct Entry)

As the levy replaces the existing training benchmarks, existing employers will also be expected to meet the new requirements.

Requirements for the 186 or 187 permanent visas:

In order to sponsor an existing employee under the transition or Direct Entry streams, employers were previously required to show they had met their requirements as a business sponsor including, importantly, compliance with Training Benchmark A or B.

Now, with the abolition of these benchmarks, employers will simply be expected to make a on-off contribution to the Skilling Australians Fund. The amount, as with the 482 case, depends on turnover and is payable at the time the nomination is lodged in the amount of:

  • Companies with turnover greater than $10 million: A one-off fee of $5,000
  • Companies with turnover less than $10 million: A one-off fee of $3,000

Conclusion:

For many businesses, the simplicity of the new arrangements will come as welcome news. However, for smaller companies, this could impose a larger cost burden than the old scheme.

The Government’s stated rationale is that it will use the money collected to contribute to the skills and training needs of the Australian workforce and reduce reliance on foreign workers.

Fortunately, the government seems to appreciate that this is a significant cost burden and accordingly, there are a number of circumstances in which it can be refunded if the application is ultimately unsuccessful – including if a sponsorship application is approved, but a nomination is refused. If an employer resigns within the first 12 months of a visa with a longer validity, that fee can also be proportionately refunded.

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