If you are seeking to sponsor and overseas worker to fill a position in your business, you will first need to apply for sponsorship approval. As part of this process, you may also consider applying to become an accredited sponsor, provided you meet the eligibility requirements (these are in addition to those that apply for a standard business sponsorship). The aim of the accreditation process is to identify low risk entities, that is, Government agencies and businesses which have a long history of good dealings with the Department by lodging a high volume of good quality applications that are decision-ready, and are in compliance with relevant laws. Sponsors that receive accredited status are rewarded with priority processing for all applications lodged under the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) (subclass 482) visa programme, as well as streamlined processing of certain nomination applications. As an accredited sponsor, your applications will be processed ahead of other non-accredited nomination and visa applications, in most cases within 5 days. Given an accreditation can be very beneficial to a sponsoring entity, it would be worthwhile exploring this as an option as part of the sponsorship application and/or renewal process. In this article we will explain how to become an accredited sponsor for the TSS visa

Note that this is an introduction only designed to help guide you in this process. Therefore, we recommend that you make the proper further enquires to ensure that you are fully informed about the accreditation process and whether your business meets the eligibility requirements before you apply to give your application the best chance of a successful outcome.

Accreditation requirements

To qualify for accreditation under this programme, a sponsoring business must meet the requirements in one of four categories. These are detailed below.

Category 1: Commonwealth, state or territory government agency

For a Government agency to qualify, it must employ at least 75% of its workforce in Australia. As this information is provided in the sponsorship and/or nomination applications forms submitted to the Department, no further documentary evidence is required.

Category 2: Trusted traders

The ‘Australian trusted trader’ is a separate accreditation program offered by the Department and requires its own separate application for accreditation approval. Category 2 is for entities that are accredited under this program.

The following requirements must be satisfied under this category:

  1. The sponsor must employ at least 75% of its workforce in Australia. No documentary evidence is required as this information is provided in the sponsorship and/or nomination applications forms submitted to the Department
  2. All employees who hold either a subclass 482 or 457 visa are employed under the terms of a written employment contract that meets the National Employment Standards, as applicable. A copy or the standard employment contract must be provided.
  3. Remuneration for all employees is in accordance with an Enterprise Agreement or internal salary table reflecting current market rates. A copy of the Enterprise Agreement or salary table must be provided, together with details about how the business determined that these rates reflect the current market conditions for occupations in the entity (accompanied by the appropriate supporting evidence)

Category 3: Low risk sponsor with low volume usage and high percentage of Australian workers

The following requirements must be satisfied under this category:

  1. The sponsor must employ at least 85% of its workforce in Australia
  2. The sponsor must not be a sole trader or partnership
  3. The sponsor’s annual turnover for the previous two years is at least $4 million
  4. The sponsor has been an approved Standard Business Sponsor under the subclass 482/457 programme for at least one year
  5. There is no adverse information known to the Department about the Sponsor, or it is reasonable to disregard if there is such information known
  6. The sponsor has had nominations approved for at least one subclass 457/482 visa holder in the previous 2 years
  7. The sponsor’s refusal rate for nominations lodged in the last year is less than 3%

Note that for each of the above, no additional documentary evidence is required as this information is provided in the sponsorship and/or nomination applications forms submitted to the Department, or in other documents already submitted as part of these applications.

  1. All employees who hold either a subclass 482 or 457 visa are employed under the terms of a written employment contract that meets the National Employment Standards, as applicable. A copy of the standard employment contract must be provided.
  2. Remuneration for all employees is in accordance with an Enterprise Agreement or internal salary table reflecting current market rates. A copy of the Enterprise Agreement or salary table must be provided, together with details about how the sponsor determined that these rates reflect the current market conditions for occupations in the business (accompanied by the appropriate supporting evidence)

Category 4: Low risk sponsor with high volume usage and medium percentage of Australian workers

The following requirements must be satisfied under this category:

  1. The sponsor must employ at least 75% of its workforce in Australia
  2. The sponsor must not be a sole trader or partnership
  3. The sponsor’s annual turnover for the previous two years is at least $4 million
  4. The sponsor has been an approved Standard Business Sponsor under the subclass 482/457 programme for at least 2 years
  5. There is no adverse information known to the Department about the Sponsor, or it is reasonable to disregard if there is such information known
  6. The sponsor has had nominations approved for at least 10 subclass 457/482 visa holder’s in the previous 2 years
  7. The sponsor’s refusal rate for nominations lodged in the last 2 years is less than 3%

Note that for each of the above, no further documentary evidence is required as this information is provided in the sponsorship and/or nomination applications forms submitted to the Department, or other documents already submitted as part of these applications.

  1. All employees who hold either a subclass 482 or 457 visa are employed under the terms of a written employment contract that meets the National Employment Standards, as applicable. A copy or the standard employment contract must be provided.
  2. Remuneration for all employees is in accordance with an Enterprise Agreement or internal salary table reflecting current market rates. A copy of the Enterprise Agreement or salary table must be provided, together with details about how the sponsor determined that these rates reflect the current market conditions for occupations in the business (accompanied by the appropriate supporting evidence)

Note that where a sponsor does not meet each requirement listed for categories 3 and 4, the Department has the discretion to still consider the application for accredited status in cases where the majority of requirements are satisfied, and if it determines that overall, the business meets the policy intention of the accreditation arrangements.

You can apply for accredited status when applying for a new business sponsorship or when renewing an existing one (i.e. on the same online form). If the Department determines that you do not meet the accreditation requirements, the sponsorship can still be approved regardless, without the accreditation (provided all requirements for a standard business sponsorship are satisfied).

Sponsorship accreditation conditions

If your application for sponsorship accreditation is successful, you will be granted a 6-year sponsorship agreement with the Department. Note that a standard business sponsorship approval lasts for 5 years only and therefore an accreditation provides an additional year of sponsorship approval.

An accredited sponsorship can be revoked at any time when an entity no longer meets the requirements as outlined above. Where this occurs, the sponsorship will generally continue until the original sponsorship approval expiry date, but it will no longer be entitled to the benefits that come with an accreditation (note there are certain factors which can lead to a cancellation of the sponsorship approval itself).

Visa applicant

As part of the subclass 482 visa application, an applicant is required to provide police clearances for all countries where they have resided for 12 months or more since turning 16 years of age. If the sponsoring entity is accredited, it can instead provide a written reference confirming the applicant’s good character and that they have no criminal convictions. In such cases, only a police clearance for Australia would be required (where applicable). This simplification of the evidentiary requirements is another benefit of having an accredited sponsorship.

There are special rules that apply to visa applicants that are 457 visa holders.

 

In conclusion, we note that the above provides an overview only of the accredited sponsorship process and the potential benefits this can bring to a sponsoring business. Given the highly complex nature of the migration laws, and the fact that every individual case is different, we recommend that you engage a registered migration agent as they will be able to provide you with detailed advice about the sponsorship accreditation process, eligibility requirements and documentary evidence that must be provided to the Department. This will enable you to be fully informed before you lodge your sponsorship application and avoid unnecessary processing delays or a potential refusal.