For most people, COVID-19 has derailed their plans for 2020, and this includes people who were seeking to migrate to Australia and Australian employers who were seeking to sponsor them. Although nobody at this stage can predict when international travel (and migration) will be able to resume, as Dominic Cookman explains, the situation may present opportunities for both employees and employers to do things differently, resulting in some migration positives.

Working remotely

An employee does not need a visa to work for an Australian company if they do not plan to come to Australia. As many employers now encourage or require their employees to work remotely, due to COVID-19 restrictions, this may encourage employers to experiment with hiring workers based offshore.

Employing workers based overseas allows employers to avoid having to commit to the expenses and obligations associated with sponsoring an employee to migrate. The employer can find out (to a degree) whether the employee is a good fit for the organisation professionally and culturally without paying expensive visa application fees and may then later choose to sponsor them.


For employees, there may be opportunities to gain experience working for an Australian company (and establish an ongoing relationship with an employer) without the risk and uncertainty of relocating themselves and their families to another country.

For prospective migrants hoping to gain or work towards permanent residency, time working for an Australian employer (even remotely) can help them accumulate more points to satisfy the threshold for Skilled Independent or State Nominated visas. They might also be able to seek their employer’s assistance in obtaining and/or preparing for the required skills assessment and IELTS scores.

Fair Work Act

Australian employers should be mindful that, although the Fair Work Act 2008 does not typically apply to overseas employees, any subsequent employment arrangement onshore must do so.

Being prepared

Those hoping to migrate to Australia in the future should not despair, and should try to use this time productively to:

  • obtain and maintain the relevant skills assessment for their profession
  • take (or retake) the IELTS exam
  • seek out Australian employers who are open to remote working.

How can we help?

Snedden Hall & Gallop has the knowledge and experience to assist you in navigating these challenging times. Do not hesitate to contact our Migration team on 02 6285 8000 or by email to ask how we can help you.

*The content of this article is provided for information purposes only, and we do not accept any liability for reliance upon the information contained in this article.  This information cannot be relied upon as legal advice.