For employers in Australia who sponsor foreign workers on specific visa types, there is a fee known as the Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) levy. The SAF levy was introduced in March 2018 and is designed to contribute to the training and development of the domestic workforce. The SAF levy is used as a funding source for programs and initiatives aimed at enhancing the skills of the Australian workforce. The amount of the SAF levy depends on the size of the business and the duration of the sponsored visa. Employers must know their obligation to pay the SAF levy when sponsoring foreign workers to work in Australia.
The SAF levy is a measure put in place to encourage employers in Australia to invest in the training and development of the domestic workforce, with the ultimate goal of reducing dependence on foreign workers. By funding various programs and initiatives aimed at upskilling local talent and addressing skill shortages nationwide, the SAF levy contributes to the long-term growth and prosperity of the Australian economy.
The amount of the SAF levy that an employer needs to pay depends on the size and duration of the sponsored visa. Large businesses with an annual turnover of AUD10 million or more will be required to pay AUD1,800 per year for each TSS visa applicant and AUD5,000 for each ENS or SESR visa applicants. On the other hand, small and medium-sized companies with an annual turnover of less than AUD10 million will need to pay AUD 1,200 per year for each TSS visa applicant and AUD 3,000 for each ENS or SERS visa applicant.
It is essential to note that the Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) levy must be paid upfront for the entire duration of the sponsored visa when submitting a nomination application. This applies to TSS visa holders, who must pay the levy annually for up to four years, and ENS and SESR visa holders, who pay a one-time lump sum. Employers should factor the SAF levy into their budget for the visa application process to avoid unexpected costs.
Not all employers in Australia are required to contribute to the Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) levy. Only employers who nominate skilled workers for certain visas, such as the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa – Subclass 482, the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa – Subclass 186, or the Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (SERS) visa – Subclass 494 , are required to pay the SAF levy. Employers who are nominating workers for the TSS visa (excluding the Labour Agreement stream), ENS visa (direct entry stream only), or the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) visa (which is no longer available for new applications) are required to pay the SAF levy.
Certain employers may be eligible for exemptions or concessions related to the Skills Assessment Levy (SAF), especially if they sponsor specific types of workers. For instance, the SAF levy may not apply to the occupations of a Minister of Religion and a Religious Assistant if the nomination is under a Labour Agreement stream. This means qualifying employers may not be required to pay the SAF levy for these positions, which can provide some financial relief.