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An Employer’s Guide to the Skilling Australians Fund (SAF)

The following information has been gathered and written based on general information that is available at the Department of Home Affairs website.  It has been reviewed by an experienced Lawyer and Migration Agent registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority MARA accredited Migration Agents to ensure its accuracy as of the date of publishing.

The information in this article is not legal advice and should be used for general information purposes only. At Visa Jobs we strongly recommend you consider engaging a Registered Migration Agent who can assess your documents and personal situation before submitting any visa applications

The Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) levy was implemented on 12 August 2018 replacing the previous Training Benchmark requirements. This means that any employer wishing to sponsor a skilled overseas worker on a TSS subclass 482, RSMS subclass 187 or ENS subclass 186 will need to make a payment into the fund.

What is the SAF levy?

The SAF levy was introduced to contribute towards funding vocational education and training for Australian workers. The Department of Education and Training manages the fund and uses the contributions to grow apprenticeships and trainee programs. This helps to support jobs and future growth within Australia.

How much is the SAF levy?

Employers are expected to make a Nomination Training Contribution (NTC), known as the levy for overseas worker they wish to nominate for a:

Payment is required in full when lodging a nomination application and it’s tax deductible. The levy amount varies, depending on the business’ annual turnover and how long the sponsored worker is going to be sponsored for.

Nomination costs:


Business Turnover

TSS Visa

RSMS or ENS Visa

Annual turnover of less than $10 million

AUD$1,200 per year

AUD$3,000 one-off

Annual turnover of $10 million-plus

AUD$1,800 per year

AUD$5,000 one-off

From the table you can see that to nominate an ENS or RSMS visa there is just a one-off levy. Employers wishing to nominate an overseas worker on a TSS visa will need to decide at the time of nomination how many years they wish to nominate the overseas worker for. The number of years varies, depending on which occupation list the nominated occupation is on:

  • Occupations on the STSOL can only be nominated for either 1 or 2 years
  • Occupations on the MLTSSL or ROL can be nominated for 1, 2, 3 or 4 years


A company with a turnover of more than AUD$10 million decides to nominate an overseas General Practitioner (MLTSSL occupation) for four years on a TSS Visa. The business will need to pay a levy of AUD7,200 (AUD$1,800 X 4 years) when the nomination is made.

Is it possible to receive a refund of the SAF levy?

Refunds for the levy are available, but only in limited circumstances which include:

  • The nomination and visa are granted, however the overseas worker doesn’t arrive or start working for the employer in the nominated position
  • The employer’s sponsorship and nomination is approved, however the overseas worker’s application for the visa is refused because they don’t meet the character or health requirements
  • The visa is granted for more than one year (i.e. 2, 3 or 4 years) but the visa holder leaves the sponsoring employer within the first 12 months. A refund can be claimed for any remaining full years of the levy that haven’t been used. This exemption doesn’t apply for RSMS or ENS visa holders, for whatever reason leave their sponsoring employers within the initial 12 months of being employed
  • If the nomination fee has been refunded (i.e. in the circumstances where the sponsorship application has been refused).

A refund will not be available if the nomination is withdrawn or refused.

Exemptions to the levy

The only exemption to the SAF levy is for religious workers who are nominated under the labour agreement stream of the ENS or TSS visas. For all other businesses, including those who are party to labour agreements, will be required to pay the levy.

Can the overseas worker pay the SAF levy?

No. The sponsoring employer must pay the levy and cannot pass the costs onto the overseas worker. This applies to the TSS, ENS and RSMS visa programs.


The SAF levy is something which all businesses need to bear in mind when considering nominating an overseas worker on a TSS, ENS or RSMS visa.

For employers nominating for a TSS visa you must also decide the amount of time you wish to nominate the worker for. Bear in mind if you nominate for a shorter period of time and then decide to nominate the overseas worker again so they can continue working for you or be eligible for PR, you will both have to pay the visa fees again which can be very costly.

With the implementation of the SAF levy, there are also stricter requirements for employers in relation to Labour Market Testing (LMT). In this case, being aware of the new LMT requirements is vital when lodging a nomination application.


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Updated on July 20, 2019

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