What is the change? The Australian Government has released information on the refund of Skilling Australians Fund fees.

What does the change mean? Employers are required to pay levies to the Skilling Australians Fund for all nominations lodged on or after 12 August. The government has added reasons that the levies may be refunded to the sponsor/employer on a discretionary basis, including cases where the sponsored worker does not arrive in Australia or does not begin work, cases where the nomination is approved but the visa application is rejected, and cases where the visa is approved but the employee does not complete a full year of work for the sponsor.

  • Implementation timeframe: Ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Temporary Skill Shortage (Subclass 482); Employer Nomination Scheme (Subclass 186), and Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (Subclass 187).
  • Who is affected: Companies nominating foreign skilled workers in the above three categories.
  • Business impact: Australian employers should budget for the new levies and note the circumstances in which a refund may be requested. The fees must be paid in full at the time of nomination.

Background: The Skilling Australians Fund legislation imposes levies on employers to fund training and skills programs for Australian workers. Employers must pay the levy in full at the time applications are lodged. The levies significantly increase the cost of nominating foreign workers in the Temporary Skill Shortage category, the Employer Nomination Scheme and the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme. The Skilling Australians Fund fee schedule is as follows:

Visa Type            Companies with less than $10 million annual turnover Companies with more than $10 million annual turnover
Temporary Skill Shortage (Subclass 482) $1,200 per year, per nominee $1,800 per year, per nominee
ENS/RSMS (Subclass 186/187) $3,000 one-time fee per nominee $5,000 one-time fee per nominee

Authorities have now said refunds may be awarded if:

  • The nomination and the 482 TSS Visa applications are approved, but the sponsored worker does not arrive in Australia or does not commence employment.
  • The nomination is approved, but the visa (482,186,187) application is rejected because the visa applicant does not satisfy the health and character requirements.
  • The nomination and the 482 TSS Visa application are approved, but the sponsored worker does not complete the full one-year employment with the sponsor. In these cases, only the remaining period of the paid levy amount will be refundable. (i.e., if the levy is paid for four years in the nomination, then three years’ payment may be refundable).
  • The nomination and 186/187 visa application are approved, but the sponsored worker does not commence employment.
  • The 186/187 visa application is in the temporary residence transition stream (TRT) and the nomination is withdrawn before a decision is made because the wrong occupation was nominated.
  • The 186/187 visa application is withdrawn before a decision because the wrong stream (TRT or Direct entry) was chosen.

Refunds are not guaranteed, even if the circumstances above are met. Requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Refunds are not available if:

  • The nomination or the 482/186/187 visa application is withdrawn or rejected.
  • The 482/186/187 visa application is rejected for reasons other than those related to the health and character requirements (e.g., if visa applicants do not demonstrate that they have the required qualifications for the position or if they do not have two years of relevant work experience, then a refund is not available).

Employers should note that if an employer takes over the visa of an existing 457/482 visa holder, the employer is only required to pay the levy for one year.

BAL Analysis: Australian companies should continue to anticipate slight delays as the new fee requirements are implemented. Employers should note that fee refunds are not guaranteed and will be returned at the discretion of the government of Australia.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider in Australia. MARN 1068140. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

Copyright © 2018 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. All rights reserved. Reprinting or digital redistribution to the public is permitted only with the express written permission of Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. For inquiries please contact