In the first of a three-part series, this article provides guidance to businesses in Australia or overseas companies intending to enter Australia and seeking to employ foreign workers in Australia or bring their foreign employees into Australia to work with full work rights. These workers may be already in Australia on limited work or non-working visas, or may be overseas workers who wish to enter Australia with a work visa.

The article provides best practices, and explain how businesses can avoid common pitfalls and meet key deadlines critical to hiring foreign workers in Australia and maintaining them in legal status. Subsequent articles will also include discussions on how to start the application process and how businesses can remain compliant with the labyrinth of complex immigration rules surrounding companies employing foreign workers in Australia.

Fundamentally, a business must show evidence of their corporate existence; financial viability and business operation to employ foreign workers in Australia.

Evidence of business ownership, the lease for premises, receipt for the purchase of equipment, contracts for work, licenses and registrations connected with the running of the business, funding arrangements, and financial statements and bank statements are among the basic items that can be used to demonstrate such ‘corporate existence’.

But don’t stop there, if you are a new business then you should also have a strong business plan in place which indicate staffing and revenue growth projections for at least 4 years. This is because the right to employ foreign workers in Australia is normally given for a period of 4 years at a time.

Training plans should be a top priority and clearly detailed in these business plans with specific training targets and budgets provided for each year. A key requirement a business must meet before being granted the right to hire foreign workers in Australia is to demonstrate that the company has spent either 1% of its gross payroll on training Australian staff or in the alternative paid 2% of its gross payroll to a recognised industry training fund.

Market salary rates for the job in question must also be researched in order to demonstrate that that the company intends to pay their foreign employees’ salaries at the minimum level set by the department and at least at the market level for that type of occupation. Companies hiring foreign workers in Australia, are often troubled in finding the right level. The department often requires detailed research to demonstrate how the company arrived at the salary level. Salary surveys, comparative job advertisements or evidence of existing employee’s salaries may be used to demonstrate this.

Finally, start the process of employing foreign workers in Australia early as it involves 3 stages: approval as a business sponsor, approval of the nominated occupation; and approval of the applicant. These are 3 separate applications that essentially has the department reviewing to see if the company, job and visa applicant are all genuinely about filling a position for which an Australian is unavailable. The department can take between 3 to 6 months to assess the applications. However, a well put together application can have a foreign worker on the job while the department processing the application.

In a nutshell, good early planning and review of the circumstances surrounding your business, its staffing needs and the qualification of the applicant are essential for businesses seeking a foreign national to work for them in Australia.

In the next part we will discuss the 3 stages involved in hiring foreign workers in Australia. And in the final part of this series we will discuss the 10 key requirements of maintaining the right of employing foreign workers in Australia.

Disclaimer: This article is intendent for information only. It is not legal advice. Please contact Jerry Gomez, Principal Lawyer and Registered Migration Agent (MARN 0854080) if you would like to find out more about the matter. For further information please contact or call +613-90176881 or visit © Gomez Lawyer 2015.