This week a gazette notice confirming data matching between the Australian Tax Office (ATO) and the Department of Home Affairs (Home Affairs) for the purposes of ensuring compliance in the temporary skilled visa program was published.
For the previous three full financial years, 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2018, biographical details of primary Subclass 457 – Temporary Work (Skilled) visa holders and Subclass 482 – Temporary Skill Shortage visa holders and details of their sponsors will be given to the ATO who will match this data with income and employment data for the individual and provide this information to Home Affairs for review.
The purpose of this undertaking is to review whether both sponsors and visa applicants have been complaint with their obligations and visa conditions, respectively. This includes sponsors paying the visa holder correctly, and visa holders working for their approved sponsor or associated entity (there are limited exemptions to this obligation and visa condition), and whether the visa holder has been working in the nominated occupation.
Where there is a discrepancy, it can be expected that Home Affairs will be taking a keen interest and may monitor the business, which can include impromptu site visits. This would be a more targeted approach to sponsor monitoring with resources allocated efficiently.
If a sponsor is found to have breached their obligations, sanctions may apply depending on the severity, and their details will be published on a register as previously reported, but which has yet to materialise. The website has yet to be updated, almost a month since relvant regulations were passed.
Visa holders who have worked for other employers in breach of their visa condition (8107 for 457 visa holders and 8607 for TSS visa holders), or who have ceased working for their sponsor altogether may find their visas cancelled. Egregious breaches may even see Subclass 186 – Employer Nomination Scheme and Subclass 187 – Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme visas cancelled should a temporary worker have been subsequently granted one of these visas.
Of the 680,000 or so records affecting approximately 280,000 individuals, it would be hoped Home Affairs somehow discloses all their finding as it would be in the public interest to know how compliant organisations and visa holders are.