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A new path to recruit foreign horticulture workers into Australia

19 February 2020

#Immigration Law

Published by:

Chloe Ling

A new path to recruit foreign horticulture workers into Australia

Last December, the Australian government announced the introduction of a Horticulture Industry Labour Agreement (HILA) to fill some of the skills gap in the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) and enable the horticulture industry to gain increased access to skilled and semi-skilled workers. This agreement is now in effect.

Under the HILA, a range of new occupations are available. These include Production Horticulture Supervisors, Nurseryperson, Agriculture Technician, Mobile Plant Operator, etc. These occupations are not available elsewhere.

Employers can sponsor foreign workers using either the Temporary Skill Shortage (subclass 482) visa or the Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (subclass 494) visa.

Essentially, eligible employees could stay in Australia for a period of up to four years. They could work, study and travel to and from Australia as many times as they like while their visa is valid. To be eligible for this visa, the foreign worker must:

  • be nominated to work in a specified occupation under the terms of the HILA
  • have sufficient work experience in the nominated occupation or a related field
  • meet the relevant Skills Assessment
  • work for their sponsor
  • be paid at least the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) amount, which is currently $53,900 per annum
  • meet minimum standards of English proficiency (unless exempt from showing this).

The foreign worker would also need to meet the general eligibility criteria such as health and character requirements, holding adequate health insurance, not owing any debts to the Australian government, and etc.

Despite the HILA took effect from 1 January 2020, there is not a lot of information available and the template agreement has not yet been released. It is also unclear who the skills assessing authority will be for these occupations and how long that process will take. 

Nonetheless, this agreement could potentially be useful for Australian companies to resolve labour hire shortages in the horticulture industry. We will continue to watch this space and provide an update when further information becomes available.

Click here to read more about the HILA on the Department of Home Affairs website.

Authors: Rebecca Macmillan & Chloe Ling

The information in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavour to provide accurate and timely information, we do not guarantee that the information in this newsletter is accurate at the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future.

Published by:

Chloe Ling

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