Visa Requirements for the Employment & Sponsorship of Overseas Workers

Overview

In circumstances where there are difficulties recruiting suitably qualified employees, a principal/manager may consider offering employment to a suitable person from overseas to fill a position, in a school or other Department workplace. Any action to fill a vacancy with an overseas worker can only be considered within the context of the Department’s normal staffing policies and procedures.

For the purpose of this policy, ‘manager’ means any person who has delegated authority. 

Employing a Skilled Worker from Overseas

A prospective skilled worker from overseas must satisfy any mandatory qualification and/or professional registration requirements that apply to the employment category (e.g. teacher, speech pathologist, social worker, psychologist).

Visa Requirements

Prior to offering employment to a skilled worker who is not an Australian citizen or permanent resident in Australia, the principal/manager should request the worker to provide them with a copy of their visa documentation indicating their current visa status, including a copy of their Visa Grant Notice from the Commonwealth Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP).

The principal/manager must be satisfied that:

  • the visa provides the overseas worker with sufficient work rights to undertake the position at the school/workplace
  • the overseas worker’s qualifications have been assessed and that they meet the professional registration and licensing requirements for the position to be offered to the person
  • the overseas worker is not offered employment beyond the expiry date of their visa
  • the overseas worker is not subject to any work conditions that place restrictions on the employment of the overseas worker (for example that limit the number of hours or the period of employment that may be offered to him/her). Where this is the case, the manager must only offer employment to the person that is consistent with the conditions listed on their visa
  • the overseas worker is provided with a letter of offer that contains additional terms and conditions for the employment of overseas worker.

Principals/managers are expected to take reasonable steps to regularly confirm that an overseas worker is not employed in breach of their visa conditions. There are heavy penalties under the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) for employers who allow an overseas worker to work in breach of their visa conditions or without a valid visa.

The preferred method of checking visa details is to register for the DIBP free online Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) service and to obtain consent from the overseas worker for a VEVO check to be done. Alternatively, the principal/manager can ask the person to send their visa details directly to them using VEVO email. A template VEVO Consent Form is available under Other Resources below.

The DIBP recommends that employers should check the VEVO service or request a VEVO email every 3 months as evidence that the employer regularly took steps to confirm the employee’s permission to work.

Information about the VEVO service is available from the DIBP at: Information about VEVO Service

Further information on visas and work rights, including information for employers, is available from the DIBP (see below under Other Resources).

Sponsoring an overseas skilled worker for a 457 visa 

If a principal/manager wishes to offer employment to an overseas skilled worker, he/she should first check with the overseas worker whether they are eligible to apply for a visa on their own, without the support of an employer. The principal/manager can encourage the overseas worker to seek independent advice and assistance from a registered migration agent on their visa options.

If the person is not eligible, on their own, to apply for a visa that will enable the person to reside and work in Australia, then an individual school council (in the case of a school-based position) or the Department (in the case of a public service position) may consider sponsoring the person’s employment if a suitable Australian citizen or permanent resident cannot be found to do the skilled work.

The Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) allows skilled workers to come to Australia and work for an approved sponsor for up to:

  • four years after it is granted - if the occupation is listed on the Medium and Long term Strategic Skilled List (MLTSSL).
  • two years after it is granted - if the occupation is listed on the Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL).

Detailed information about sponsoring a skilled worker for a Temporary Work (Skilled) (subclass 457) visa is available from the DIBP at: Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457)

Note: if a school council decides to sponsor a skilled worker for a 457 visa, the school council must pay the sponsorship and nomination application fees associated with the sponsorship arrangement. The overseas worker is responsible for the payment of the 457 visa application fee. Further information about the fees associated with a sponsorship arrangement is available from the DIBP at: Fees and Charges for visas

School councils (in the case of a school-based position) and managers (in the case of public service positions) who sponsor skilled workers for a 457 visa must comply with all of the sponsorship obligations related to the sponsored person, which are set out in the DIBP booklet Temporary Work (Skilled)(subclass 457) visa available at: Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457)

School councils and managers should particularly note references in the DIBP booklet above to the obligations of the sponsor to ensure the overseas worker works in the position for which they were nominated by the sponsor, to notify the DIBP within 28 days of any changes to the sponsored overseas worker’s employment (including cessation of employment) and, if requested by the overseas worker, to pay the reasonable and necessary travel costs to enable the sponsored person and their sponsored family members to return home at any stage during the sponsorship arrangement.

Employment and sponsorship of a 457 visa holder in a school-based position 

School councils are responsible for sponsoring overseas workers in schools and must meet all the sponsorship obligations of the arrangement.

Where an overseas worker is selected for a school based vacancy and the school council has decided to sponsor the person, he/she may be offered employment in one of two ways:

1. School council sponsorship and direct employment by the school council:

The school council may sponsor the overseas worker and directly employ the overseas worker in accordance with Part 2.3 of the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 and within the terms and conditions of Ministerial Order 1039. Note that school councils are only permitted to sponsor and employ teaching staff for maximum periods of 12 months. An education support class employee may be employed on a fixed term basis. Information about the letter of offer that is to be used is available below under Other Resources.

2. School council sponsorship and employment by the Department:

The school council may sponsor an overseas worker, and the person can be offered employment in the teaching service for a period of up to four years if the occupation is listed on the MLTSSL or for a period of up to two years if the occupation is listed on the STSOL. The benefit of this arrangement is that it will allow the school to offer a longer period of employment to a teacher who is an overseas worker (as school councils may only employ a teacher for a maximum period of 12 months).

This type of arrangement is permitted because under the Migration Act 1958 and the Migration Regulations 1994, a sponsor of a 457 visa holder (the school council) may allow a visa holder to work for an ‘associated entity’ of the sponsor (the Department Secretary). However at all times the school council will remain responsible for the overseas worker and must comply with all of the sponsorship obligations while the person is employed by the Department. Information about the letter of offer that is to be used is available below under Other Resources.

Employment and sponsorship for a 457 visa holder in a public service position

Prior to offering employment in a public service position to an overseas worker under a sponsorship arrangement, the manager must first seek approval from the Secretary to use the Department’s current sponsorship approval from the DIBP to nominate the overseas worker to work in a Department workplace. 

If approval to sponsor an overseas worker is granted, the person can be offered employment for a period of up to four years if the occupation is listed on the MLTSSL or for a period of up to two years if the occupation is listed on the STSOL. The work unit is responsible for paying the sponsorship and nomination application fees associated with the sponsorship arrangement and the overseas worker is responsible for paying the 457 visa application fee. 

Further information about the fees associated with a sponsorship arrangement is available at: Fees and Charges for Visas

Permanent Residency 

A permanent residency visa will enable an overseas worker to remain in Australia indefinitely and to accept ongoing employment at a school or Department workplace, subject to satisfying the Department’s employment requirements.

If a permanent residency visa is considered desirable to enable an overseas worker to work in an ongoing capacity at a school or Department workplace, the manager should first check with the person whether they are eligible to apply for a permanent residency visa on their own, without the support of their employer. There are several pathways to permanent residency and a manager can encourage overseas workers to seek independent advice and assistance from a registered migration agent on their visa options.

Note that many temporary residency visas are renewable, including the employer sponsored Temporary Work (Skilled) (subclass 457) visa. However a temporary visa holder must only be offered fixed term positions in a school or other Department workplace as their visa does not provide the person with ongoing work rights.

If it is considered that a permanent residency visa is desirable, and the overseas worker is not eligible for a permanent residency visa ‘in their own right’, it is open to the employer to consider nominating the person for a permanent residency visa.  The employer sponsored permanent residency visa options applicable to schools and Department workplaces are detailed below.

Employer Nomination Scheme (Subclass 186)

Employers may use this scheme to sponsor and recruit to a skilled job vacancy on a permanent basis either highly skilled staff from overseas or temporary residents currently in Australia.

More information about the Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186) is available from the DIBP at: Employer Nomination Scheme 

Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (Subclass 187)

Under this scheme, a rural or regional employer may sponsor an overseas worker to fill a job vacancy. The scheme can provide for permanent residency.

More information about the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (subclass 187) is available from the DIBP at: Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme  

Other Resources

Procedures & Forms

  • To obtain a template offer of employment in a school, contact the Schools Recruitment Unit on 1800 641 943.
  • Template - Consent by Visa Holder for VEVO Check  (WORD

Further Assistance 

For further assistance with matters relating to engaging an overseas worker principals/managers should contact the Legal Division in the Department by email legal.services@edumail.vic.gov.au or telephone (03) 9637 3146.

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