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Changes to semi-skilled occupation eligibility

We have been providing regular posts about the employer-sponsored program reforms that will be introduced on 1 July. A key element of these reforms is that Skill Level 4 occupations or ‘semi-skilled’ occupations will no longer be eligible for the regional sponsored migration scheme under ‘exceptional circumstances’. 

Employers who need specialised semi-skilled workers from overseas will instead need to negotiate a labour agreement.  

Labour agreements provide a robust integrity framework for the entry of semi-skilled workers who are likely to be more vulnerable than highly-educated, highly-paid and highly-skilled workers.

Where this change affects a number of employers in the same industry with similar specialised semi-skilled needs, the department can look at developing template agreements for all businesses in that industry or sector; for example, specialised animal attendants or machinery operators in the agricultural sector.

More information about labour agreements is available on the department’s website.

Comments (4)


Do you know roughly how long it would take for a plant operator labour agreement?


Hi Stacey,

A Labour Agreement is a formal arrangement negotiated between an employer and the Australian Government and will only be considered where a genuine skills shortage exists and there are no suitably qualified or experienced Australians readily available.

A Labour Agreement allows an employer to recruit skilled overseas workers for occupations approved under the agreement.

The employer must be able to demonstrate, among other things, that it has genuinely attempted to recruit Australian workers for the positions and that there are no appropriately qualified Australian workers readily available.

Please check the immi.gov.au website to make sure that you/your company are not eligible to be a sponsor for other types of skilled working visas before considering a labour agreement. The process is quite onerous and takes, on average, 4-6 months from the time that complete documentation is received by the department, to be signed and executed.



Hi Roderick,

Im not a company.. its for my partner. We've been trying to emigrate for over a year now and because plant operator isnt even on the 457 list at the moment we're finding it very hard.

Found a few employers interested but they all say that its far too hard for them to sponsor, it just seems to be too much paperwork for them


Gday Stacey. Unfortunately, as you are not/don't represent a company, I can't see any pathway for you through the labour agreement program. It's best to contact your migration agent or the department through general enquiries. As per the comments policy on the migration blog, we do not provide individual advice in this forum.