Sponsor obligations: “What have I gotten myself into!”

The above cry of exasperation tends to be heard by migration agents on occasion from business owners, particularly from small and medium enterprises, who decided to go through the application process to sponsor an overseas worker on a 457 visa. In this author’s opinion, the immigration advice industry as well as the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (“Department”) do a pretty poor job in making sponsors aware of their obligations. Some migration agents tend to brush over these obligations in order to obtain a client as if it is a simple afterthought.

The Department provides a link to the obligations when completing the online application form and again in the approval notice with a hyperlink. Nowhere is the full list of obligations stated anywhere for the sponsor to read unless they actually click on that hyperlinks or look them up on the Department’s website (hidden under an expanding heading, which is located under one of five tabs on a webpage). If you don’t believe me, enjoy the hunt yourself: http://www.immi.gov.au/Visas/Pages/457.aspx.

Perhaps it is because the obligations, for some events, are considered onerous and/or confusing. For a Standard Business Sponsor (457 visa sponsors) there are 10 obligations they must comply with:

  1. To cooperate with inspectors;

  2. To ensure equivalent terms and conditions of employment;

  3. To pay travel costs;

  4. To pay location and removal costs;

  5. To keep records;

  6. To provide records and information;

  7. To provide information when certain events occur;

  8. To ensure the sponsored overseas worker participates in the nominated occupation;

  9. To not recover, transfer or take action that would result in another person paying for certain costs;

  10. To provide training (continue to meet the relevant training benchmark).

The above is a cursory list of obligations and most delve into specific situations and requirements in order for these obligation to be fulfilled. Many vary when they commence and when they cease.

From experience, the number one failure by sponsors (big and small) is notifying the Department when an employee ceases working either through resignation or termination. The Department must be notified within 10 working days of the worker’s last day of employment with the sponsor. To hazard a guess, the Department views this obligation as one of the more serious of obligations as they must eventually issue the ceased worker a Notice of Intention to Cancel their 457 visa, especially if that worker has not done something else in the interim such as been nominated by another sponsor or have been granted a different visa. Even if that may be the case, it is still a requirement of the sponsor to notify Immigration regardless of being aware what their former employee’s intentions or actions are.

Failing to abide by these obligations can see the sponsor issued warning notices, fined and/or barred from being able to sponsor workers for a period of time.

These obligations are, of course, in addition to the requirements any business has in relation to their employees work conditions and entitlements.

If your migration agent is not making you aware of these obligations, it may be time to look for another. Peak Migration is always willing to assist businesses in their obligation requirements. Simply put, a compliant sponsor means there should be less surprises down the road for the migration agent.