What Visa holders and Sponsoring businesses need to know right now.

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As each week passes, the rampant march of redundancies keeps on coming – especially from Sydney’s tech companies now faced with the sudden adjustment from growth (even hyper-growth) to consolidation (even survival).

For the past five years or so there’s been a constant hum from tech leaders about our shortage of top engineering and product talent here in Sydney, and the need to aggressively compete with other tech companies and corporates resulting in sky-rocketing salaries. What we would do for those problems right now!

Relieving the pressure of the tech talent shortage has been skilled engineers, designers, product managers, arriving from around the world 365 days a year, bringing with them knowledge and experience.

In this so-called new normal, what happens to tech talent when the recovery to the point of pre-Covid happens? Then what?

Is it entirely possible that we won’t have an influx of overseas talent for months? Maybe even years? Will this hinder the recovery post-Covid or will this provide the opportunity for the up-and-coming engineers of tomorrow to get a foot in the door?

We don’t know how long it will be before travel bans are removed and people are allowed to migrate, but we do know there are skilled workers precariously hanging onto their visa status to extend their stays and potentially their dreams of becoming a fair dinkum Aussie.

With all these unknowns in mind, we spoke to Sam Bricknell, Director of Techvisa to find out the latest information that both visa holders and companies need to know;

What do visa holders need to know right now? What support are they eligible for? 

Right now, if you’re on a visa then the ideal is that you hold on to your job, even if the hours are reduced. While there are some concessions allowed to visa holders who are still attached to the company, nothing has changed if you were to lose your job. That is, you still only have 60 days to find a new employer before you would be in breach of your visa conditions.

What do employers need to be aware of with regards to employees they have on visas? 

As a company sponsoring people on visas, you need to understand your sponsorship obligations.

You have a few options of how to see out this period

  • Reduce hours – An announcement made on April 4th gave some relief from visa conditions. Previously, employees on a 482/ 457 had to work full time but during this period can work reduced hours without breaching visa conditions.
  • Unpaid leave – You can agree with your employees that they take a period of leave with maintains their employment but reduces the burden on the business in terms of payroll. This can be a block of unpaid leave or just reducing to a few days a week.

As with anything, communication is key.

What is the impact of the support or lack of support by the Government on visa holders? 

Uncertainty is the main concern I am hearing which comes from lack of communication. People are seeing/ hearing rumours online about what they can/ can’t do on the visa and this leads to heightened anxiety.

The support has been in the form of concessions to your visa conditions. 

It means that you can now work less hours without breaching your visa conditions

You can also access your super. $10,000 this financial year and $10,000 next financial year. This is not a bad one as many on short term visas won’t be here until retirement, so being able to access and use your super while you are here can be a benefit to you.

Should there be a reciprocal agreement in place similar to Medicare for Commonwealth countries? 

It makes sense for there to be an agreement set up where we support Australians overseas and other Governments support their Citizens who are living in Australia. This could take many shapes but would also require time, buy-in from other countries and would still no doubt see people slipping between the cracks if their home country did not reciprocate.

What is the impact on those with a Working holiday visa, where time is ticking for them to qualify for a second year working holiday visa or potential sponsorship? Should they be granted a second chance visa? 

This is a common one we’re seeing at the moment. People coming to the end of their working holiday and companies not able to go for sponsorship at the moment. Within the next few months, many clients feel that they may be through the worst of this and will need to scale again. Potentially an extension of the 6 month restriction with one company and an amnesty of 6 months for people to extend their working holiday would be reasonable.

 

If you are worried about your situation or if you are an employer wanting to look after the best interest of your sponsored employees, reach out to Sam Bricknell Director of Techvisa for a free consultation.