The seasonal worker program, which closed to new applications on 4 April 2022, was replaced by the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) stream under the Subclass 403 Temporary Work (International Relations) visa program.
The Pacific Australia Labour Mobility scheme is for applicants who have been endorsed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to participate in the program. The applicant must also have been invited by a temporary activities sponsor who has also been endorsed to be a PALM program employer by DFAT.
Employers must apply, be assessed and approved for participation in the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility palm scheme by DFAT. Only after receiving DFAT endorsement can a visa applicant apply for a subclass 403 visa under the PALM labour scheme.
Additionally, a county must have an intergovernmental bilateral agreement in place before its citizens can participate in the program.
Be aware that family members cannot accompany PALM program visa holders to Australia as secondary visa holders. If family members wish to travel to Australia with the PALM labour scheme visa holder, they can only do so if they apply for and are granted another visa subclass.
So, how can an entity sponsor workers under the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility scheme?
What Is Required For A Entity To Participate In The PALM Scheme?
A business that wishes to participate in the PALM scheme must apply to, be assessed and endorsed by DFAT.
As part of the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility scheme assessment process, the Department of Home Affairs (the Department) will provide information to DFAT regarding the following information:
- Does the entity have good immigration practices?
- Is there any adverse information known to the Department about the entity, or persons associated with the entity? If so, is it reasonable to disregard this information?
- Does the entity meet the definition of an Australian organisation for the purposes of a Temporary Activity Sponsorship?
What Is An Australian Organisation?
An Australian organisation means a body corporate, partnership or an unincorporated association (other than an individual or a sole trader) that is lawfully established in Australia. So this would include the following types of entities:
- Joint venture
- Not-for-profit organisation
- Unincorporated association
- Incorporated association
Individuals, sole traders and sole proprietors are not Australian organisations for this purpose.
What Happens Once An Entity Is Endorsed By DFAT To Participate In The Pacific Australia Labour Mobility scheme?
Once an entity that wishes to participate in the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility palm scheme has received approval from DFAT, it must then apply for approval as a temporary activities sponsor (if it is not already) in order to sponsor workers under the PALM program.
Next up, how can a foreign worker be sponsored by an employer in Australia under the PALM program?
What Is Required For A Worker To Participate In The PALM Program?
DFAT is also responsible for assessing a worker’s eligibility to participate in the PALM scheme. Once an applicant is endorsed by DFAT, they will receive a unique identifier which must be entered into the visa application form. The applicant must receive this endorsement in order to lodge a valid subclass 403 visa application.
To receive endorsement by DFAT, the applicant must meet the following requirements:
- the applicant must be a citizen and resident of a Pacific Island country that has an agreement in place to participate in the PALM scheme;
- the applicant must be aged between 21 and 45 years of age;
- the applicant must have been offered a position with a DFAT endorsed PALM labour scheme employer for a minimum period of 12 months (but not exceeding three years);
- the position must be an occupation in an approved industry/sector;
- the position must be located in a rural and regional area (as defined by DFAT) for the purposes of the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility scheme program;
- the applicant must have the appropriate skills (including any licences) to perform the occupation;
- the applicant must be assessed as being work ready, and physically capable of performing the position for which they are being sponsored (note this is in addition to the health criteria that must be satisfied for visa purposes);
- the applicant must have sufficient English language proficiency for the position (including to meet and understand OH&S requirements); and
- the applicant must have served a minimum period of time outside Australia where applicable (Pacific Australia Labour Mobility PALM scheme workers must depart Australia after working for three years in the country).
Note that the above requirements are not visa criteria but rather, the requirements that must be met to be granted DFAT endorsement to participate in the PALM program.
Now we turn to the immigration criteria that must be met by the sponsoring entity and the prospective sponsored worker to qualify under the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility palm scheme.
Pacific Australia Labour Mobility PALM Scheme Visa Requirements
The PALM scheme visa applicant must meet the following criteria for grant of a subclass 403 visa:
- the applicant has made adequate arrangements for health insurance during the period of their intended stay in Australia;
- the applicant genuinely intends to stay temporarily in Australia for the purpose for which the visa is granted, having regard to whether the applicant:
- has complied substantially with the conditions to which the last substantive visa, or any subsequent bridging visa, held by the applicant was subject; and
- intends to comply with the conditions to which the Subclass 403 visa would be subject.
- the applicant has adequate means (or access to adequate means) to support themselves during the period of the applicant’s intended stay in Australia.
Additional requirements including health and character criteria also apply.
PALM Labour Scheme Sponsorship Requirements
To qualify for grant of a subclass 403 visa under the PALM labour scheme, the following requirements must be satisfied by the sponsoring entity:
- an approved sponsor has agreed to be the sponsor of the applicant;
- the sponsor is a temporary activities sponsor and is participating, as an employer, in the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility scheme administered by Foreign Affairs;
- the sponsor has not withdrawn the sponsor’s agreement to be the sponsor of the applicant;
- the sponsor has not ceased to be the sponsor of the applicant; and
- there is no adverse information known to Immigration about the sponsor or a person associated with the sponsor, or it is reasonable to disregard this information.
Get More Information
Pacific Australia Labour Mobility Program
Please refer to the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) website for further information about the PALM labour scheme program.
Skilled Visa Options For Selected Occupations
Please refer to our series of articles on the skilled visa options that are available for selected occupations below:
Employer Sponsored Regional Visa
For information on the subclass 494 regional employer sponsored visa, please see the following articles:
Employer Sponsored Visa
To learn about an employer sponsorship visa, including the subclass 482 TSS visa, please see the following articles:
To learn about applying for a skilled visa, please see the following articles:
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Contact us to book a no-obligation consultation to find out more about how to sponsor an overseas worker for a subclass 403 visa under the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility scheme.
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In conclusion, we note that the above discussion provides an overview of the requirements that must be satisfied to sponsor overseas workers for a subclass 403 visa under the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility PALM scheme.
Australia’s migration laws are complex, and each case is different. We recommend that you seek professional advice if you are interested in sponsoring an overseas worker in your business, as 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.
For up-to-date advice about sponsoring overseas workers for a subclass 403 visa under the PALM scheme, book your confidential consultation with a migration agent in Adelaide. PAX Migration Australia is a leading immigration advice service based in Adelaide.
Australian Government – Department of Home Affairs – Immigration and citizenship – Visas – Getting a visa – List of all visas – Temporary Work (International Relations) visa (subclass 403) – Seasonal Worker Program stream