News & Insights

VTG Collaborative Partner and immigration Law Firm Integrate Legal discusses visas sought by business, multinationals and universities in Australia and the state of the market
October 18, 2022

In her recent interview, published at VTG Search, Roxanne Calder referred to employers finding that the status of access to skilled visas is very difficult at the moment and negatively impacts talent attraction, slowing the arrival of appointed candidates. Further feedback from the market supports the view that employers are finding that their ability to access the skilled visas necessary to address their labour needs is difficult at the moment and is negatively impacting talent attraction. Visa processing times are also slowing the arrival of appointed candidates. Indeed, there is a sense that changes are needed to improve Australia’s attractiveness for international candidates for roles.

Venture Technology Group collaborative partner, Integrate Legal, is a leading immigration law firm which offers the following feedback about visas.

What are the main visa types currently utilised by Australian businesses and major
organisations such as universities?

The main visa schemes used by Australian businesses and major organisations are the subclass 482, 186, 408, 407, and 400. The visa type depends on a number of factors, including (but not limited to) the location of the candidate, the role they will be undertaking in Australia, and their personal circumstances. Aspects which can also influence the appropriate visa scheme to utilise are the candidate’s age, stage of career, and duration of time they will be seeking to remain in Australia.  

For senior appointments in the university sector, the 186 visa is often used as it provides a direct pathway to Australian permanent residency and offers certain exemptions to academic applicants. For senior role appointments outside of the University sector, it may be more appropriate for the senior appointment to transition from a subclass 482 to a 186 visa. Indeed, it is strongly recommended that legal counsel is obtained before submitting any visa application.

Has there been an evolution of the types of visas used over the past two-three years for skilled white-collar workers?

No. There has not been much change to the types of visa schemes over recent times. However, processing times for visas were negatively affected by Covid from approximately January 2020 until early 2022 when travel restrictions were lifted. The closed borders meant that processing of visas declined but did not come to a complete halt. Due to the reallocation of human capital to assist with processing prioritised visa subclasses, processing times were impacted.

Over the last 3-6 months we have noticed a significant improvement in processing times for visas.

There is more certainty now which is useful for planning for the visa applicant and so to for organisations seeking to employ non-Australians. It may not always be commercially viable for applicants to spend 2 – 3 months waiting outside of Australia for their visa to be processed. As such, applicants should seek professional advice to ensure that all possible avenues of entry have been explored. Indeed, applicants may need to apply for several short-term visas before securing a more stable temporary (or even permanent) visa. Applicants must always seek to enter Australia on the visa that is best suited for their intended activities in Australia. More recently, business confidence has improved and there is willingness among the interested parties to consider different visas.

You have spoken about the Global Talent visas. What is working well with these and what not so well?

Expression of interest (EoI) documentation for this type of visa is critical. The preparation and submission of a comprehensive EoI will give the candidate the absolute best chance of being invited in a timely manner, as is seeking professional assistance.

A well thought-through applicant biography or CV is critical. The ‘nominator’ for this type of visa is also critical. The nominator needs to offer the strongest profile in the community or standing in the relevant discipline to support the applicant.

These visas attract ‘case-by-case decision making’. If an applicant is invited to apply for the Global Talent Visa, and they have submitted their visa application, it is very likely the application will be finalised in around 2 – 3 months. The Department does not guarantee processing times.

The speed of the process is impacted by a number of factors, namely the strength of the EoI and its articulation of the accomplishments of the candidate as well as having skilled legal representation/assistance with the matter is all critical. A number of potentially suitable candidates may submit applications which do not necessarily address the relevant criterion and as such will not receive an invitation.

Professional assistance is also beneficial when the solicitor or firm has a strong working relationship with the Department of Immigration’s Global Talent division. This allows for open dialogue between the representative and the Department, which would normally not be available to candidates who are applying without assistance.

Interestingly, in the case of multinational pharmaceutical companies, there is strong interest in this type of visa by those in the functions of medical activities; sales; public / government relations; and the interface of various disciplines engaged with the pathway for research and development.  

What is the status of the ‘Working Holiday visas’? I understood that in the past, this visa provided access to temporary workers in a whole range of industries. What has happened to these?

The working holiday or work and holiday scheme are excellent visa that are generally processed very quickly by the Department. There is a broader economic consideration affecting this type of visa. The economic impact of Covid 19 and the past lockdowns mean that potential applicants no longer have the savings and financial resources to support themselves as they did in the past.

Historically there was strong interest in this visa from the UK, EU, and Canada. However, potential applicants for this type of visa have not been working in their home country, making a working holiday far from home financially untenable. Inflation pressures, cost of living increases and a lack of savings make the cost of a working holiday prohibitive. This is coupled with the distance of Australia from the applicant’s usual home country. As such, working holidays are therefore sought in countries closer to the applicant’s home.

As an example, it is cost effective for a UK or Irish citizen to undertake a working holiday in Spain without many, or any visa, considerations. They can be close to their home country in the event of further lockdowns or other emergencies and be paid in Euros.

The current environment has created an atmosphere of uncertainty and applicants are being cautious about where they travel for long periods of time. Over time these concerns should ease.

Australia as a destination represents an opportunity for those in Asia, as the management of Covid (especially they less sever lockdowns and significantly lower-case numbers/mortality rate) in Australia has been well regarded by those in countries such as Japan, South Korea, and China.

Organisations seeking to hire young skilled individuals from countries which are covered by the working holiday scheme should consider it in first instance as a way to quickly facilitate the commencement of the role and then look at transitioning the individual to a longer term (say subclass 482) visa once they have arrived.

Many professions require registration and accreditation of offshore applicants in Australia. What is happening with registerable qualifications?

Registration and accreditation remain the domain of the relevant industry / professional bodies. Across all visa schemes, visa holders who are undertaking work which requires registration / licensing, must have the relevant registration or licence before undertaking the tasks and duties that require such work. Supervised work of the offshore graduate may be an interim arrangement during the process of seeking full registration and accreditation.

Take Aways

A range of visa options are available to the individual and hiring organisations depending on the seniority of the role, the skillset, the location, and career stage of the applicant. With enough time, it is possible for the individual to research the types of visas available and to make their own visa applications. Best practice would be to engage a legal professional who specialises in immigration to ensure the most pragmatic strategy is implemented and the applications are correctly prepared.

Indeed, expert advice and access to the networks of an experienced immigration law firm such as Integrate Legal, may add advantage to the process and timing of any visa application.

VTG Search is experienced in the support of individuals and hiring organisations. Expert advice for structuring the personal narrative such as a biography or curriculum vitae for visa applicants is an element of the value chain offered by VTG Search.

Visa Schemes

Global Talent Visa858• Requires an invitation to apply
• Afforded priority processing by the Department
• Flexible criterion allows assessing officers and the Department the freedom to select and invite from a larger talent pool
• Eligibility – a profession, a sport, the arts, academia, and research
• Must have a nominator with a national reputation in the relevant area of talent i.e., an Australian citizen, a permanent resident, an eligible NZ citizen, an Australian organisation

Priority sectors are: Resources, Agri-food and AgTech, Energy, Health industries, Defence, advanced manufacturing, and space, Circular economy, Digitech, Infrastructure and tourism, Financial services and FinTech, Education

If you are endorsed by the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy or supported by the Minister or Director-General responsible for national security, you do not need a nominator, and do not need to provide Form 1000 with your application. Instead, you must provide evidence of the relevant endorsement or support.
Temporary Graduate visa485In a welcome development, the Australian government has temporarily removed the requirement for subclass 485 visa applicants in the Graduate Work stream to nominate an eligible skilled occupation and to obtain a skills assessment. This concession 485 applicants who have studied for occupations that are not on the skills lists to live and work in Australia for a further temporary period.

This amendment will provide this temporary concession for applications made between 1 July 2022 and 30 June 2023 (inclusive).
Temporary Skill Shortage Visa482Changes to the Labour Market Testing Scheme

On 4 July 2022 the government’s JobActive website transitioned to a new system called Workforce Australia. As a result, it will now be necessary for one of the required advertisements to be placed on the Workforce Australia website.

The Department has advised that transitional arrangements will be in place to ensure that employers who have advertised on JobActive prior to 4 July will not be disadvantaged by the changes.

We understand that it should now be easier for employers to place advertisements on the new site. However, given the complexity of Labour Market Testing, we strongly recommend seeking advice prior to commencing the 482-visa recruitment process.

Australian businesses have expressed ongoing frustration at the lengthy processing times currently being experienced by visa applicants. This has had a negative impact on business confidence and has resulted in a hesitancy to utilise the subclass 482 scheme to fill gaps in the local labour market.

Businesses should be aware that there are potential visa solutions that, at the present time, are being processed significantly quicker. Two potential options are:
1. Working Holiday or a Work and Holiday Visa (subclass 417 and 462 respectively); or
2. Highly specialised work (Subclass 400).
Working holiday makers are being welcomed in Australia and their applications are being processed at a rate that outpaces that of other temporary visas. The same also applies to subclass 400 visas.
Working Holiday/ Work and Holiday Visa417• Generally, visas are processed very quickly.
• Visa holders are permitted to work for one employer in one location for no more than 6 months.
• During this 6-month period employers can seek to, subject to eligibility, transition workers to longer term work visas.
Temporary Work short Stay Specialist400Highly specialised work (Subclass 400).
Generally, the 400 visa will be processed quickly and will allow the visa holder the ability to work for a period of 3or 6 months (with a strong supporting business case). During this time (subject to eligibility) employers can then seek to transition the employs to longer term visas.
Employer Nomination Sponsored VisaFrom 1 July 2022, certain subclass 482 visa holders who were not previously eligible for employer-sponsored (subclass 186) permanent residency now potentially have a pathway to obtaining Australian permanent residency. To take advantage of these changes, skilled workers will need to have been physically present in Australia for a period of 12 months from 1 February 2020 until 14 December 2021.

The Department has indicated that these concessions will be available until July 2024. Subclass 482/457 visa holders and their employers should seek advice as to whether the concessions are of benefit to their circumstances.

VTG Search is a specialist executive search consultancy facilitating senior and leadership appointments across a variety of sectors and regions. Follow us on Linkedin for the latest vacant opportunities or senior appointment announcements.