COVID-19 has greatly impacted employment practices in Australia and around the world. As we adapt to the new-normal, managing global mobility and skilled workforce needs and compliance is critical to business and Australia’s economic recovery.
Right now, Australia is experiencing targeted skills shortages in critical industries which are vital to our economic recovery. With Australia's borders closed, and likely to remain closed until 2022, recruiting overseas skilled workers is challenging, but with the right knowledge and support your operational needs can be met.
Skilled migration still a possibility for some
For many offshore visa applicants, Australia's international border restrictions remain in place. Currently only Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate families are permitted to enter unless an exemption is granted. There are several exemptions available including for:
The Australian Government recognises the significant contribution that Skilled Employer Sponsored temporary and permanent entry programs continue to make to Australia's economic prosperity. Based on advice from the National Skills Commission and other Commonwealth departments, the new Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL) prioritises visa applications for overseas skilled workers with the critical skills to fill skill gaps, create jobs and rebuild Australia's economy.
The PMSOL includes occupations in healthcare, construction and IT sectors that are critical for the economic recovery.
While existing skilled migration occupations lists remain active and applications are processed, priority is given to those occupations on the PMSOL. Temporary skilled visa applicants or current visa holders working in a PMSOL occupation can request an exemption from Australia's travel restrictions. With Australia’s borders closed, the process to employ overseas skilled workers can be complex, opaque, time consuming and expensive so having in-depth knowledge and expertise in visa and travel exemption applications is critical to ensuring successful outcomes.
With the closed borders, and the ongoing demand for temporary and permanent employer sponsored visas, employers must meet all employment and visa related obligations including sponsorship obligations under the 457/482 visa programs.
The consequences for non-compliance can include warnings, administrative action and a ban from accessing the visa programs, infringement notices, civil penalties, and in some cases criminal penalties. Having a clear understanding of what’s expected of you, and when, is critical to ensure your compliance, your employee’s right to stay and work in Australia, and your ability to sponsor skilled migrants in the future.
Expats and immigration in a COVID-normal world
On 16 February, we hosted the first of our ‘Working in Australia’ webinar series, Expats and Immigration in a COVID-Normal World. Maria Jockel, Legal Principal of BDO Migration Services - our incorporated immigration legal practice, Ben Renshaw, BDO Employment and Expatriate Taxation Partner, and Rebecca Thomson, Managing Associate of BDO Migration Services, explored the current challenges faced by expats and their employers in regards to expatriate taxes, the ongoing transformation of the management of Australia’s borders, and mitigating the risks to your business in a COVID-normal world.