Disruptive and emerging digital technology powered by blockchain technologies is still in its infancy stage in Australia and worldwide. Its traditional application and implementation in financial services, predominantly via cryptocurrencies, has just begun and faces constant regulation changes. There are many other ways blockchain technology can be applied. This includes agriculture, property ownership, healthcare, supply chain and art. Therefore, Australian businesses will need skilled and experienced staff in these fields if they wish to innovate, adapt and grow. If you run a business that relies on blockchain technology, you are likely experiencing a shortage of Australian skilled workers. Your business might be hiring offshore workers, which can be a suitable approach in some cases. However, there are noticeable advantages in onshoring overseas workers and prospective candidates, such as promoting team-building and safeguarding confidential information. The Australian immigration system can be challening to navigate and understand. This article examines the different ways businesses can successfully hire offshore talent to migrate to Australia.

The Australian Immigration Framework

There are two main avenues for your business to hire workers to migrate to Australia:

  • Corporate immigration via employer-sponsored visas: the business may need to be approved as a sponsor by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) and nominate the candidate;
  • Personal immigration via independent visa pathways: the business is not part of this process but can assist the candidate in other ways as an incentive to attract top talent.

Corporate Immigration – Employer-Sponsored Visas

Temporary Skill Shortage Visa

The Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa is the most utilised employer-sponsored visa (subclass 482). The first step for the TSS 482 visa is for your business to become a Standard Business Sponsor (SBS). The SBS status will last for 5 years. It is important to note that your business will be subject to sponsor obligations when it achieves SBS status.

The next step is for your business to lodge a TSS 482 nomination application. For the final stage, the candidate must lodge a TSS 482 visa application. Here, they must have at least 2 years of full-time work experience within the last 5 years. Additionally, the candidate must meet English language, health, and character criteria. Once the nomination and visa application are granted, depending on the job occupation, your business can sponsor the candidate to stay temporarily in Australia for 2 to 4 years. After this period, your business may be able to sponsor the candidate for a further TSS 482 visa.

The advantage of a TSS 482 visa is that the candidate must commit to working for your business in the nominated occupation. However, the candidate is not barred from obtaining a nomination from a different company and transferring their TSS 482 visa. The TSS 482 visa can also serve as an incentive for the candidate to remain working for your blockchain business, as they could be eligible for permanent residency via the Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186) Temporary Residence Transition stream (TRT).

The most important requirement for the TRT 186 visa is for the candidate to have been working for your business in the nominated occupation while holding the TSS 482 visa for at least 3 years.

Direct Entry Stream

Alternatively, if your business is currently negotiating employment with a prospective candidate, it could opt to sponsor such a candidate for permanent residency straight away via the Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186) Direct Entry stream (DE). For the DE 186 visa, the candidate must have at least 3 years of full-time work experience and a skills assessment in the nominated occupation. The advantage of the TRT or DE 186 visas is that your business does not need the status of SBS, nor will it be subject to sponsor obligations.

Also, the candidate will obtain permanent residency and be able to apply for Australian citizenship if eligible. The disadvantage is that the candidate is not reliant on your business. As they have obtained permanent residency, they do not need to remain working for your business. This is why it is common practice for businesses to nominate candidates under the TSS 482 first.

Training Visa

Lastly, if the candidate has a strong profile and shows promising career development but lacks the basic 2-year full-time work experience requirement for the TSS 482 visa, your business can consider sponsoring the candidate under a training visa (subclass 407). For this particular visa subclass, your business will need to obtain the status of temporary activities sponsor and lodge a 407 nomination application.

Similar to the SBS, this type of sponsorship will also attract legal sponsor obligations. The candidate must then lodge a 407 visa application. This visa can be granted for up to 2 years, which allows the candidate to obtain the work experience required for the TSS 482 visa.

Personal Immigration – Independent Visa Pathways

Candidates can apply for multiple different visas on their own accord. The main advantage of these visas is that your business will not need sponsorship status (i.e. not subject to sponsor obligations). As for candidates, the advantage is that they can obtain permanent residency and apply for citizenship if eligible. However, the disadvantage of independent visas is that the eligibility criteria are quite strict and subject to a competitive selection process.

The Global Talent visa (GTV) (subclass 858) is an attractive option for top talent. The GTV visa has two steps:

  • the candidate must lodge an expression of interest (EOI) application; and
  • once invited to apply, the candidate must lodge a GTV application.

For the candidate to secure an EOI invitation, they must have an impressive professional background, international prominence and achievements, and a current or potential income of AUD $162,000.

The candidate must also identify a target sector that aligns with their professional profile and achievements. In the area of blockchain, the most common target sector is Digitech (automation; big data; blockchain technology; cloud computing). Lastly, the candidate will require the nomination of an Australian citizen or business. If your business decides to aid the GTV application, there are no sponsor legal obligations. Your business will only need to attest to the legitimacy of the candidate's claims. Upon GTV approval, the candidate will receive permanent residency.

Which is the Best Approach?

There are advantages and disadvantages in whether your business should proceed with employer-sponsored visas or via the candidate's independent visas. This decision will require assessing your business and the candidate's eligibility. Simultaneously, you should consider the overarching migration goals to determine the best approach.

For example, your business' migration goals might not necessarily be the same as the candidate's migration goals. On the one hand, they might want to settle in Australia permanently in search of a better lifestyle and opportunities. On the other hand, your business needs to hire skilled labour in the area of blockchain to help scale and grow the business. From an immigration perspective, these are not the same goals.

It is also very likely that prospective candidates will raise the question of migration and discuss this topic during the recruitment process and negotiations. Often, prospective candidates will consider the effort to relocate to Australia and opportunities to remain in Australia after a temporary visa expires. We should also note that temporary visas do not grant candidates access to medicare, but permanent residency visas do. Therefore, permanent residency will be a goal for most overseas talent when considering working for your blockchain business in Australia.

If your business cannot provide an attractive offer that includes migration outcomes and residency pathways, candidates might be enticed to compare offers and proceed with a competitor.

Key Takeaways

If your business wants to hire overseas talent to work in Australia, the most common visa pathway is the employer-sponsored TSS 482 visa, which can lead to permanent residency via the TRT 186 visa. If your business wishes to offer permanent residency to an attractive candidate, it can do so via the DE 186 visa. Alternatively, your business could act as the candidate's nominator for a GTV that will grant permanent residency from the outset. The topic of visas and migration is likely to appear during the recruitment phase in negotiations.

Choosing which visa pathway is best for your business's overseas recruits can be challenging. If your blockchain business needs help with your overseas employee's visa, our experienced immigration lawyers can assist as part of our LegalVision membership. For a low monthly fee, you will have unlimited access to lawyers to answer your questions and draft and review your documents.