COVID-19 Update: Can Business Sponsors use the JobKeeper Payment?

Advice for business sponsors who sponsor employees

Updated 31 March 2020

On 30th March, the government announced more support for businesses with the ‘Jobkeeper Payment’. The JobKeeper Payment subsidises businesses to keep on staff. Those staff members must be Australian citizens, the holder of a permanent visa, a Protected Special Category Visa Holder, a non-protected Special Category Visa Holder who has been residing continually in Australia for 10 years or more, or a Special Category (Subclass 444) Visa Holder. So business who have sponsored and employ staff on an ENS 186 visa or a RSMS 187, for example, could be eligible for the Jobkeeper Payment. You can learn more about the Jobkeeper Payment here.

To date, no provision has been made for any other temporary workers. The Australian Business Migration Group is watching this space closely for developments. In the meantime, what other options do business sponsors and temporary workers have?

Standing down a sponsored employee and Business Sponsor Obligations

Having invested in sponsoring an employee from overseas for a 482 visa, some employers will face the very difficult decision to stand down their sponsored employee.

When this happens, the business sponsor will need to inform the immigration department.

Like all other Australian workers, the process in making a temporary skilled worker redundant should follow the measures set out by Fair Work Ombudsman.

Business sponsors, in keeping with their obligations, should be ready to cover the travel costs back to the home country of their sponsored employee, as and when the overseas skilled worker is able to leave Australia.

SAF Levy Refunds

If your business has sponsored an employee for a TSS 482 visa you may be able to receive a refund on the Skilling Australia Fund (SAF) levy. Circumstances that qualify are:

The sponsorship and visa applications are approved, but the overseas skilled worker (visa holder) does not arrive/commence employment with the employer.

The employer’s sponsorship and nomination application for the overseas skilled worker is approved, but the associated visa application is refused on health or character grounds.

The nomination fee is refunded (for example where a concurrent sponsor application is refused).

A TSS 482 visa holder leaves the sponsoring employer within the first 12 months of employment where the visa period was for more than 12 months. Refunds will only be available in this scenario for unused full years of the SAF levy. However this does not apply for not apply to ENS or RSMS holders who leave their employer within the first 12 months of employment.

What can temporary workers do?

Some temporary workers in Australia will be concerned about how they can lawfully leave the country when their visa is due to expire but flights have been cancelled and the borders are closed. In this situation, temporary workers should take measures to obtain a new visa as soon as possible.

It has been possible for temporary visa holders to apply for a bridging visa in record time – a process that usually takes 28 days is taking less than 24 hours in some instances. However, the sooner you request a new visa to extend your stay, the better. What matters most is that all visa-holders are able to remain and depart Australia lawfully when the border open again or if you are given special dispensation to leave Australia.

A bit of good news for temporary workers is that When a temporary skilled worker leaves Australia, they can claim the superannuation they have saved up during the time they have worked here. Temporary workers like TSS subclass 482 visa holders, 457 visa holders, 494 visa holders as well as 417 working holiday makers can all claim back their superannuation when they leave Australia for the last time.

If you are a business sponsor employing a sponsored employee, or you are a temporary skilled worker and need advice, call 1300 794 387 or email