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Labour Agreements Go Online

Labour agreements enable approved businesses to sponsor skilled overseas workers when there is a demonstrated need that cannot be met in the Australian labour market and standard temporary or permanent visa programs are not available.

Labour agreements are developed between the Australian Government (represented by the Department) and employers. They are generally in effect for five years and provide for visas to be granted under one or both of the following visa programs:

  • Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa (subclass 482)
  • Employer Nomination Scheme visa (subclass 186).

It is formal arrangement negotiated between an Australian employer and the Australian Government.  Applying for a visa under a labour agreement is the only migration pathway for employers seeking to recruit overseas workers for semi-skilled positions, or skilled positions where concessions to mainstream visa requirements are sought.

This includes positions which are currently not listed on Short Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) or Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL).  Where standard immigration pathways are an option, they should be used in preference to a labour agreement – this includes the standard TSS Framework as well as the Employer Nomination Scheme, or the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme.

Labour agreements are carefully considered on a case-by-case basis to maintain the integrity of the programme. These arrangements are designed to help ensure that: 

  • Australian workers are provided with first opportunity through the provision of training and employment opportunities; 
  • employers seeking to utilise the labour agreement programme have a plan in place to reduce future reliance on temporary overseas workers and build capacity in the Australian labour market over time; 
  • skilled or semi-skilled overseas workers employed under a labour agreement are suitably qualified and experienced and able to transfer their skills to less experienced Australian colleagues;  the number of skilled overseas workers requested under a labour agreement represents a minor proportion of the employer’s workforce; and  the programme remains in the national interest.

It is worthwhile noting that Australian government is under no obligation to enter into a Labour Agreement.  This is a major difference between becoming a standard/accredited sponsor where a decision to grant or to refuse a sponsorship must be made.

There are currently There are four types of labour agreements: 

  • Company specific labour agreements;  
  • Industry labour agreements; 
  • Designated area migration agreements; and 
  • Project agreements. 

From Saturday 17 November 2018, Department of Home Affairs confirmed that all requests for a new labour agreement, including existing labour agreement holders seeking to renew their agreements must be completed via immi account.  The new online request form will provide a more streamlined way of requesting a labour agreement and will hopefully speed up the process of requests.

The new online process is expected to be somewhat similar to other online visa applications including intuitive questions based on responses provided on the form.

Currently, the process of applying for a labour agreement is somewhat burdensome and involves a number of steps including requesting a pro-forma paper based form from the Department of Home Affairs.  The processing time for Labour Agreement is currently six months from the date of lodgement.

Anyone wishing to vary existing labour agreement is encouraged to email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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