Skilled Refugee Labour Agreement Pilot Program

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Written by Pamela Pau, Senior Immigration Lawyer

In July 2021, the Australian Government commenced a pilot program in partnership with the philanthropic organisation Talent Beyond Boundaries (TBB) which will run up until July 2023.

The purpose of the program is to provide skilled refugees and individuals who are forcibly displaced or are stateless with a pathway to work and reside in Australia. At the same time, it enables businesses who are struggling to fill skill shortages from the local market to have access to an additional talent pool from which to recruit from. The program attempts to remove some of the considerable obstacles experienced by refugees, stateless and forcibly displaced persons which may prevent them from being able to access employer-sponsored visas.

There are 100 primary applicant places available, and primary applicants will be able to bring their spouse or de facto partner, and any dependent children with them.

There are currently 103 occupations that can be sponsored and there are a wide range of occupations available. These include IT occupations such as software engineers, developer programmers, ICT business analysts, systems analysts and ICT project managers, engineers, aged and disability carers, pharmacists, nurses, accountants, auditors, and some trade occupations including chefs, cooks, carpenters and mechanics.

Applicants must have at least functional English and be endorsed by TBB, and there will be a number of concessions available. Employers will be able to assess candidates to ascertain whether they have the skills and experience required for the role.

Skilled refugees and individuals who are displaced or stateless can be sponsored by Australian businesses through a company specific labour agreement for the following visas:

  • 186 visa- Direct Entry stream, which is a permanent employer-sponsored visa;
  • 494 visa, which is a temporary employer-sponsored regional visa with a pathway to permanent residency;
  • TSS visa, which is a temporary employer-sponsored visa with a pathway to permanent residency.

Once the candidate’s visa has been granted and they have arrived in Australia, TBB will work with local settlement services to assist individuals and their families to settle into Australia and rebuild their lives.

Employers who wish to participate in this pilot program will need to be endorsed by TBB and they can register their interest at

Individuals who are refugees, displaced persons or are stateless who wish to participate in the pilot program can register and provided detailed information about their skills, education and employment history at

If you have any questions about the issues raised in this piece, or any questions about immigrating to Australia, please don’t hesitate to contact Owen Hodge Lawyers on 1800 770 780 or by emailing us at [email protected].  

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