In another initiative which is aimed at encouraging and promoting regional migration, on 23 December 2019, the Government announced that a new Horticulture Industry Labour Agreement has been signed.
This new 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.
Under this programme, 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 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 new 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.
To see the list of occupations which are eligible for sponsorship under the Labour Agreement, and for further details on concessions and whether a permanent residency pathway is available, please refer to the following link: Department of Home Affairs – New Horticulture Industry Labour Agreement
Australian Government, Department of Home Affairs, Immigration and Citizenship, New Horticulture Industry Labour Agreement
Australian Government, Department of Home Affairs, Immigration and Citizenship, Skilled migration program, Recent Changes, Horticulture Industry Labour Agreement
The Hon David Coleman MP, Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, Joint media release with the Hon Bridget Mckenzie – Relief for growers this summer, Monday, 23 December 2019