Currently, holders of some Australian Temporary Residence visas such as subclass 457 may be eligible to access financial incentives offered by the Australian Federal government.
The most commonly adopted benefit is the Living Away From Home Allowance (LAFHA). This is afforded through the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and accessed as tax free advantages for part of the foreign worker’s salary. It is intended to provide foreign employees working in Australia for an extended but temporary period, with supplementary funds to cover additional expenses which result from leaving their usual place of residence, to satisfy employment requirements
The ATO has signalled their intention of limiting the availability of LAFHA payments only to relevant visa holders who maintain an established home in Australia but who are required to conduct their employment duties away from this location. While ATO’s draft modifications are currently under evaluation and discussion, it is envisaged that existing legislation will be amended so that LAFHA will not be available to foreign employees who don’t meet the new requirements from July 1, 2012 onwards.
It is probable that when this legislation comes into force foreign employees already working in Australia, or contemplating a new appointment to Australia may review their options and elect for a more permanent visa solution.