If you are seeking to sponsor an 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 sponsorship 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 nomination and visa applications lodged under the following employer sponsored skilled visa programs:

  • Subclass 482 Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa; and
  • Subclass 494 Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (SESR) (Provisional) visa.

Sponsors who were accredited on or after 1 July 2016 also receive streamlined processing of certain low-risk TSS and SESR nominations. In this case, certain nomination provisions can be satisfied based on a certification made on the nomination form, as well as additional documents and information provided at the sponsorship application/accreditation approval process.

As an accredited sponsor, your subclass 482 and 494 applications will be processed ahead of other non-accredited nomination and visa applications, in most cases within 5 business 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 explain how to become an accredited sponsor for the TSS and SESR visa programs by outlining the sponsorship accreditation requirements, how to apply for accredited sponsorship, accredited sponsor conditions and how character references from the sponsor can replace overseas police clearances that would otherwise be required from the visa applicant.

Sponsorship Accreditation Requirements

To qualify for sponsorship accreditation, a sponsoring business must meet the requirements in one of five categories. These are detailed below.

Category 1 – Commonwealth, State Or Territory Government Agency

For a Government agency to qualify, at least 75% of its workforce in Australia must be made up of Australian workers. 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 following requirements must be satisfied under this category:

  • At least 75% of the sponsoring business’ workforce in Australia must be comprised of Australian workers. No further documentary evidence is required as this information is provided in the sponsorship and/or nomination applications forms submitted to the Department;
  • All employees who hold either a subclass 482 or its predecessor, the subclass 457 Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (this visa is now closed to new applications) are engaged as ’employees’ 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;
  • 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 such as Awards, remuneration surveys, job advertisements and Job Outlook).

The sponsoring business must also be a current ‘Australian Trusted Trader’ to qualify for accreditation under this category. The ‘Australian trusted trader’ is a separate accreditation program offered by the Department of Home Affairs (the Department) and requires its own separate application for accreditation approval. Category 2 is for entities that are accredited under this program.

What Is An Australian Trusted Trader?

Australian Trusted Trader is designed to reduce red tape for Trusted Traders at the border, improves certainty in export markets, and expedites the flow of their cargo in and out of Australia, to ensure faster access to market. The program is administered by the Department in conjunction with the Australian Border Force (ABF). It is free to apply, and accredits Australian businesses with compliant trade practices and a secure supply chain. Once accredited, businesses have access to a range of benefits aimed at simplifying their customs processes.

Who Is Eligible To Apply?
A business is eligible under the Australian Trusted Trader program if it is:
  • an importer, exporter or a service provider;
  • active in the international supply chain for two years;
  • financially solvent; and
  • has an Australian Business Number (ABN).
What Are The Steps Involved To Be Accredited?

To apply for accreditation, follow the steps below:

  • register for an ImmiAccount;
  • complete an online application;
  • the assessing authority will visit your business to review your operations and meet your staff to assess whether your supply chain security and trade compliance practices are in compliance with relevant requirements;
  • your application will be assessed; and
  • if approved, you will become a trusted trader and have immediate access to a range of benefits. You will be assigned an ABF account manager, who will help you to access the benefits for which you are eligible under the program.

You can learn more about the Australian Trusted Trader program and how to apply by heading to the Australian Border Force website.

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

The following requirements must be satisfied under this category, which is aimed at sponsors that are considered to be lower risk who are low volume users of the program:

  • at least 85% of the sponsor’s workforce in Australia must be comprised of Australian workers;
  • the sponsor must not be a sole trader or partnership;
  • the sponsor’s annual turnover for the previous two years must be at least $4 million;
  • the sponsor must have been an approved Standard Business Sponsor for at least one year;
  • there is no adverse information known to the Department about the sponsor, or it is reasonable to disregard if there is such information known;
  • the business has complied with all sponsor obligations;
  • the sponsor must have had nominations approved for at least one primary subclass 457/482 visa holder in the previous two years; and
  • 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.

  • 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; and
  • 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 such as Awards, remuneration surveys, job advertisements and/or Job Outlook).

Category 4 – Low risk Sponsor With High Volume Usage And Medium Percentage Of Australian Workers

The following requirements must be satisfied under this category, which is designed for sponsors that are deemed to be lower risk and higher volume users of the program:

  • at least 75% of the sponsor’s workforce in Australia must be comprised of Australian workers;
  • the sponsor must not be a sole trader or partnership;
  • the sponsor’s annual turnover for the previous two years is at least $4 million;
  • the sponsor has been an approved Standard Business Sponsor for at least two years;
  • there is no adverse information known to the Department about the sponsor, or it is reasonable to disregard if there is such information known;
  • the business has complied with all sponsor obligations;
  • the sponsor has had nominations approved for at least 10 subclass 457/482 visa holders in the previous two years;
  • the sponsor’s refusal rate for nominations lodged in the last two 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.

  • 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; and
  • 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).

What Happens If A Business Does Not Meet All Category 3 Or 4 Requirements?

Where a business does not meet each requirement listed for category 3 or 4 above, 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.

According to immigration policy, the Department may still approve an application for accreditation even if all of the requirements are not met if most are satisfied, in certain cases. Examples of circumstances where additonal flexibility may be afforded include where:

  • the applicant’s business is a start-up and is unable to meet the requirement to have been a standard business sponsor for at least one year;
  • the business is making a significant investment in the Australian economy and has demonstrated a commitment to training and recruiting Australians, however it does not meet the 85% percentage of Australian workforce threshold and/or does not meet the requirement relating to approved nominations in the last two years;
  • accreditation may also be approved for a business that operates as large partnership in an industry where it is a common business structure.

Category 5 – Major Investment In Australia

The following requirements must be satisfied under this category:

  • the sponsor must have made a major investment in Australia (of at least $50 million) which has directly generated Australian employment;
  • the sponsor must not be a sole trader or partnership;
  • the sponsor has been an approved Standard Business Sponsor for at least one year;
  • the sponsor has had nominations approved for at least one primary subclass 457/482 visa holder in the last year;
  • there is no adverse information known to the Department about the sponsor, or it is reasonable to disregard if there is such information known;
  • the sponsor’s refusal rate for nominations lodged in the last year 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.

  • 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; and
  • 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).

What Is A Major Investment In Australia?

A ‘major investment in Australia’ may include the following:

  • a lasting contribution to Australia – this can include the value of the investment, the company’s pattern of investment, jobs created, export outcomes generated, and/or the tax contribution;
  • innovative business practices or technologies – this can include the introduction of new skills and capabilities, setting up research activities in Australia or collaborating with Australian research institutions, and/or commercial partnerships (MoUs or JVs); and
  • supporting exports and the expansion of Australian industry within global supply chains, especially in high value-add areas.

How Can You Apply For Sponsorship Accreditation?

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 sponsorship approval for a term of five years after the day on which it is granted.

Also note that your obligations as an accredited sponsor are the same as those for a standard business sponsor.

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 (i.e. a right to priority processing and streamlined processing of low-risk nominations). Note also that there are certain factors which can lead to a suspension or cancellation of the sponsorship approval itself.

Character References For A 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 character 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.

An accredited sponsor reference must comply with the following:

  • be on company letterhead;
  • include the sponsor’s name and the full name of the person signing the reference; and
  • include the visa applicant’s full name and date of birth.

Get More Information

Subclass 482 TSS Visa

You can learn more about the Subclass 482 TSS visa including sponsor requirements and obligations in the following articles.

Subclass 482 – A Guide to Temporary Skill Shortage

457 visa to PR (updated for new rules)

Employer Sponsored Visas

Employer Nomination Migration Scheme

Labour Agreement Visa

482 Visa Employer Obligations

457 Visa Replacement

Employer Sponsor Visa Requirements

Australian Skilled Migration Visa List

Australian Skilled Occupations List

Subclass 494 SESR Visa

You can learn more about the Subclass 495 SESR visa in the following articles:

New Skilled Regional Visas to be introduced

Skilled Regional Sponsored Visa

Further Regulations released for the new regional sponsored visas to commence from 16 November 2019

Applications for the new provisional regional sponsored visas are now open

Subscribe to our newsletter for regular updates and additional information.

Contact us to book a no-obligation consultation to find out more about the subclass 482 TSS visa including the sponsorship accreditation. Whether you are an employer who is seeking to sponsor overseas workers, or you are a prospective visa applicant, we are available to help you whatever your circumstances.

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Australia’s migration laws are complex, and each case is different. We recommend that you seek professional advice if you are interested in applying for accredited sponsorshipas being fully informed will give you the best chance of achieving a successful outcome on your case. A migration professional can help you to do this. Also be aware that several terms are defined in the migration provisions. It is vital to have a good understanding of these terms and how they apply in practice. Detailed advice about these is beyond the scope of this article and we would therefore recommend that you seek further information in this regard.

For up to date advice on applying for accredited sponsorship, contact PAX Migration Australia, a leading immigration service providing advice on a range of visas including skilled employer visas and sponsorship accrediation. Contact us for a no obligation discussion on how we may be able to assist you in your migration goals in Australia.

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 like PAX Migration Australia, as we 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.

Note also that the information provided in this article 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.

Sources/Links:

Australian Border Force – About us – What we do – Australian Trusted Trader

Australian Government – Department of Home Affairs – Immigration and citizenship – Visas – Employing or sponsoring workers – Sponsoring workers – Becoming a sponsor – Sponsoring skilled workers – Accredited sponsor – Overview

Australian Government – Department of Home Affairs – Immigration and citizenship – Visas – Employing or sponsoring workers – Sponsoring workers – Becoming a sponsor – Sponsoring skilled workers – Accredited sponsor – Eligibility

Australian Government – Department of Home Affairs – Immigration and citizenship – Visas – Employing or sponsoring workers – Sponsoring workers – Becoming a sponsor – Sponsoring skilled workers – Accredited sponsor – Step by step

Australian Government – Department of Home Affairs – Immigration and citizenship – Visas – Employing or sponsoring workers – Sponsoring workers – Becoming a sponsor – Sponsoring skilled workers – Accredited sponsor – When you are a sponsor