New enterprise migration agreements (EMAs) released

Date: Oct 04, 2011
Document Type: Article

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) has released the details on the long-awaited enterprise migration agreements (EMAs).

Submission guidelines were made available to the public on 2 September 2011, providing guidance to companies involved in large-scale resource programs who need to source international talent to fill genuine vacancies in cases when the local population is unable to meet the specific requirements. The use of EMAs in hiring overseas workers is restricted to projects with a workforce of over 1,500 employees during peak times and a capital expenditure in excess of $2 billion.

Migration lawyers can be engaged for this purpose, providing the managers responsible for the hiring process with the knowledge resources necessary to make successful applications.

Back in July 2010, the National Resources Employment Taskforce - the official body responsible for studying the impact that introducing skilled foreign workers could have on the industry - recommended the introduction of EMAs.

In its suggestions, the taskforce noted that migration was to be a key factor in ensuring Australia's competitive edge by providing this business sector with access to talent that would otherwise be unavailable to many enterprises.

The introduction of EMAs is designed to streamline the hiring process of skilled migrant workers, with the main contractor or a project's owner working out the specific details of an agreement with the DIAC.

Once signed, these will form the basis for the hiring of international employees. It will essentially form an umbrella migration agreement for the entire project, while the direct employer still maintains responsibility for any sponsorship obligations.

The benefits to enterprises will be the removal of individual agreements that used to be required whenever they sought to source overseas skilled labour - with the new agreement streamlining the process by forming the basis of all hires as the length of a project.

Businesses may find that these agreements can save them time and money when procuring the talent necessary for large resource operations. To gain approval for an EMA, the DIAC must be satisfied that the project will contribute to the up-skilling of Australian workers, so that anticipated skill needs in the resources sector are met.

The DIAC, recognising the importance of implementing the EMAs, will afford expediting of labour agreements and visa applications tied to an EMA.

Speaking on the release, a spokesman for the DIAC said that access to skilled international employees would only supplement the existing labour supply of many resources operations, helping them to realise their true economic potential.

He said: "Overseas workers will only be supplementary, with resources projects required to demonstrate effective and ongoing local recruitment and training efforts."

With the opportunity to gain access to increased levels of talent, enterprises may soon begin working with lawyers for immigration to begin drafting these umbrella agreements.

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