DIAC's humorous review serves as seasonal visa reminder

Date: Dec 28, 2011

The value afforded to businesses through the use of skilled migrant workers has long been recognised by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC), which keeps in place a number of initiatives to enable and support this practice.

Where experienced labour is required and the local work pool is unable to provide it, the 457 visa allows companies to sponsor international employees to live and work in Australia for a period of up to four years.

But what happens when the work that needs doing is not listed as an approved occupation by the department?

This topic has been the subject of a humorous write up by the DIAC, with Santa Claus approaching the official body to gain more information on how he can get his elves into the country legally.

Unfortunately for Mr Claus, the role of Christmas Elf was not included in the skilled employment descriptions.

According to a DIAC spokesperson, Santa was unaware of this particular requirement before he approached the department.

In any case, the cost of applying for a 457 visa for a number of workers who would only need to enter into the country for one evening would not be a cost effective practice.

Instead, a migration lawyer would be able to determine that a labour agreement could be better suited, as it can be made to suite the unique needs of an organisation.

The DIAC spokesperson said: "Elves are not on the list of approved occupations for the subclass 457 visa, permanent employer nomination scheme or regional sponsored migration scheme but Mr Claus was able to establish there was a genuine shortage of qualified elves here.

"As a result, he negotiated a labour agreement which has been specifically tailored to allow this special group of workers into the country."

While the specific requirements of this arrangement were not expanded on by the spokesperson, an immigration lawyer would be able to deliver qualified advice on how to prove the existence of just such a shortage to the DIAC.

However the departmental official did comment on the consultative process used by Santa Claus as he approached the Australian Elves Union.

The spokesperson explained: “Santa was also able to ensure his overseas recruitment of elves did not affect long-term improvement of employment opportunities for Australians, which is a key element of any labour agreement.

"He must, like all employers who are party to a labour agreement, contribute to the training of Australians and pay market salary rates."

This humorous look at the process of hiring international workers helps to highlight the importance of gaining qualified advice from experienced professionals before entering a submission to the DIAC.