What is the change? Legislation that would authorise the government to charge employers who sponsor foreign workers a new fee to skill Australians did not proceed to a Senate vote because time expired during debate over amendments.

What does the change mean? The debate will continue at a later date, but in light of the legislative calendar, it appears that the skills fee will not pass before the introduction of the Temporary Skill Shortage visa in March.

  • Implementation timeframe: Ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: TSS visa, Employer Nomination Scheme and Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme.
  • Who is affected: Employers sponsoring foreign workers.
  • Business impact: Payment of the immigration skills fee is delayed until it passes Parliament.
  • Next steps: The House of Representatives convenes again on 26 February and the Senate on 19 March.

Background: The Skilling Australia Fund Bill 2018 would mandate that all employers sponsoring foreign workers pay into a fund to help upskill the resident labour force. The bill passed the House and moved to debate in the Senate. An amendment to the Labour Market Testing requirement was successfully added. That amendment would require that advertising start within four months of a nomination and run four weeks, state relevant skills and be targeted so that a significant proportion of Australians would be informed about the position. Another amendment would exempt companies with turnover of A$5 million or less from having to pay the new skills fee.

BAL Analysis: Employers should be aware that the skills fee is unlikely to pass before the TSS visa is introduced next month; however, Parliament will take up the debate again and the bill could pass as early as mid-March.

This alert has been provided by BAL Australia. For additional information, please contact

MARN: 0101248

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