In an initiative which is aimed at encouraging and promoting regional migration, businesses in the horticulture industry are able to apply for a Horticulture Industry Labour Agreement.
This new horticulture industry labour agreement is designed to provide support to rural and regional communities to fill labour shortages by enabling employers greater access to skilled and semi-skilled migrant workers and, in turn, improving opportunities for growth and development in these communities.
The Horticulture Industry Labour Agreement is a type of ‘industry labour agreement,’ which is specially desiged for a specific industry with fixed terms and conditions.
Eligible Visa Programs
Under the horticulture labour agreement, which commenced on 1 January 2020, horticultural employers can apply to sponsor a migrant worker for a Subclass 482 Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa in one of 31 approved occupations.
Permanent residency pathways are also available under the new horticulture industry labour agreement, either through the Subclass 494 Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional visa program, which provides a pathway to a Subclass 191 Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) visa after three years, or a Subclass 186 Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa, after three to four years as a TSS visa holder (three years for Skill Level 1-3 occupations and four years for Skill Level 4-5 occupations).
The Horticulture Labour Agreement enables applicants to access the following concessions to the standard skilled visa requirements:
- Reduction of up to 10% to the Temporary Skill Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT), which is currently set at $53,900 (if equivalent Australian workers do not receive this minimum amount of annual earnings);
- In determining guaranteed earnings, monetary payments (e.g. regularised overtime) and non-monetary benefits (e.g. accommodation) over a broader range can be included;
- To meet English language requirements (where an exemption does not apply), applicants must achieve a minimum score of IELTS 5.0 overall, and IELTS 4.0 in each individual component score. For the ENS and SESR visas, applicants must score at least IELTS 5.0 overall, and at least IELTS 4.5 in each individual component score;
- Eligible applicants can be up to 50 years of age when they apply for an ENS or SESR visa.
How To Apply For A Horticulture Labour Agreement
Labour Agreement Application
An employer can apply for a horticulture industry labour agreement online on the Department of Home Affairs’ website (ImmiAccount) using the Labour Agreement Request form. All required documents must be attached to the application. There is a nil cost to apply.
Horticulture labour agreement application processing can take up to six months.
Each relevant requirement must be addessed in the application for a horticulture industry labour agreement.
The Department may contact the employer to request further information or clarification, who will have 7 to 14 calendar days to respond.
If the application for a new horticulture industry labour agreement is approved, a copy of the proposed Labour Agreement will be provided to the employer for review and signature.
Upon receipt of the signed agreement, the Department will confirm that the new horticulture industry labour agreement is in effect.
The employer must lodge a separate nomination application for each overseas worker which it is seeking to sponsor through the TSS or SESR visa pathway (the Subclass 191 Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) visa will be introduced from 16 November 2022).
Key requirements for nomination approval include the following:
- the nominated occupation must be as specified in the horticulture industry labour agreement (this means that it must be an occupation that is approved for nomination under the labour agreement terms);
- criteria as specified in the horticulture labour agreement, as applicable, have been met (these will depend on each individual horticulture labour agreement);
- the ‘occupation ceiling’ has not been reached for the relevant year (the horticulture industry labour agreement will prescribe the maximum number of nominations that may be approved for each nominated occupation for each year of the labour agreement term).
The labour agreement must also include an option for permanent residence in the case of SESR and ENS nominations.
Nomination applications must be submitted online with the Department, with all required documents attached. The TSS nomination application lodgement fee is currently set at $330 and for the SESR nomination, the application fee payable is $nil.
The nomination fee for a subclass 186 visa is $540. A Skilling Australian Fund (SAF) levy is also payable.
A separate visa application is required to be lodged for each overseas worker who is seeking an employer sponsorship or nomination under the horticulture visa Australia agreement, addressing all relevant requirements.
The criteria that must be met for a horticulture visa Australia will depend on the visa being applied for, that is, a subclass 482 TSS visa, subclass 494 SESR visa or a subclass 186 ENS visa. See the link to our article on the Labour Agreement Visa for further information about the horticulture visa Australia requirement.
Get More Information
We recommend that you refer to our article on the Labour Agreement Visa for a comprehensive discussion on the visa pathways available under the new horticulture industry labour agreement, and the application process for employers and visa applicants under a horticulture labour agreement.
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In conclusion, we note that the above discussion provides an overview of the horticulture industry labour agreement, including eligible visa programs and concessions that are available to employers applying for a horticulture labour agreement and to visa applicants applying for a horticulture visa Australia. We also provide links to our comprehensive article on labour agreements, including the new horticulture industry labour agreement and horticulture visa Australia.
Australia’s migrations laws are complex, and each case is different. We have also referred to several terms which are defined in the migration provisions (and whose meanings may differ from their ordinary usage). We recommend that you seek professional advice before you proceed with applying for any visa class, as being fully informed about the process and requirements that apply will give you the best chance of achieving a successful outcome on your application, and thus lessen the chance that it will be refused. A migration professional can help you to do this.
For up to date advice on applying for a horticulture labour agreement including a horticulture visa Australia, book your confidential consultation with a migration agent in Adelaide. PAX Migration Australia is a leading immigration advice service based in Adelaide.