Exciting times in Australian Immigration: The Government has released its new Migration Strategy. One of the highlights is the introduction of the 4-year Skills in Demand Visa as a replacement for the Temporary Skilled Shortage (TSS) 482 Visa.
While additional details are pending further consultation, most changes are scheduled to be implemented in 2024. Notably, as of 8 December 2023, there has been a simplification of the Labour Market Testing for employer sponsored visas. Companies no longer need to advertise with Workforce Australia.
Australia’s Migration Strategy roadmap outlines eight key actions. These are the result of consultations with various stakeholders, including businesses, unions, international education, civil society, and the broader Australian community.
8 Key Actions
- Targeting temporary skilled migration to address skills needs and promote worker mobility
- Reshaping permanent skilled migration to drive long-term prosperity
- Strengthening the integrity and quality of international education
- Tackling worker exploitation and the misuse of the visa system
- Planning migration to get the right skills in the right places
- Tailoring regional visas and the Working Holiday Maker Program to support regional Australia and its workers
- Deepening our people-to-people ties in the Indo-Pacific
- Simplifying the migration system to improve the experience for migrants and employers
Changes to Temporary Work Visas
Australia’s temporary skilled migration system aims to alleviate labour shortages in the country and create a pathway for individuals to potentially become permanent residents in the future.
The Temporary Skills Shortage Visa often lacks clear routes to Permanent Residency. While many visa holders have short-term business purposes, the absence of well-defined pathways, especially for those intending longer stays, causes uncertainty. This situation poses a risk of Australia losing valuable skills and talents. The dependence on a single employer for a permanent residency pathway gives too much power to individual employers, making migrant workers more vulnerable to exploitation.
New Skills In Demand Visa
The government plans to launch a new 4-year temporary skilled worker visa known as the Skills in Demand Visa. This visa aims to offer workers greater flexibility in changing employers and will establish distinct routes to permanent residency for those interested. The Skills in Demand Visa will incorporate three specific pathways, aligning with the recommended ‘risk-based approach to regulation’ outlined in the Migration Review.
SPECIALIST SKILLS PATHWAY
– For highly skilled migrants
– Any occupation except trades workers, machinery operators and drivers, and labourers
– Earning at least $135,000 (the Specialist Skills Threshold) and no less than Australian workers in the same occupation
– 7 days visa processing time
CORE SKILLS PATHWAY
– Most temporary skilled migrants will come through the Core Skills Pathway (trades workers, machinery operators and drivers, and labourers)
– Applicant must have an occupation on the new Core Skills Occupation List
– Salary at or above the TSMIT ($70,000)
– 21 days visa processing time
ESSENTIAL SKILLS PATHWAY
– For lower-paid workers with essential skills (salary under $70,000)
– Focused on the care and support economy
The expectation is that the primary source of visas will be through the Core Skills Visa Pathway.
Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) levy
The consideration involves collecting the Skills Australia Fund (SAF) levy in smaller, gradual payments over time to accommodate the greater freedom visa holders have in changing employers. Exploring a monthly or quarterly payment model is part of this evaluation.
Streamline Labour Market Testing
Effective 8 December 2023, the Australian Government has moved to streamline Labour Market Testing (LMT) by eliminating the need to advertise positions through Workforce Australia. Additionally, the validity period will be extended from 4 to 6 months. This change is not expected to take effect until some point in 2024.
Labour Market Testing (LMT) will be phased out gradually as Jobs and Skills Australia data on skills shortages improves, and an alternative Core Skilled Occupation List will be established to replace LMT.
The points test will undergo a review for improvements. A new analysis-based points test will be created to identify independent migrants who can make a substantial contribution to Australia.
The Australian Government intends to strengthen its cooperation with States and Territories to address regional population needs more effectively with regards to migration planning aspects.
The Australian Government is taking immediate action to enhance safeguards for visa-holding employees, implementing new powers and imposing larger penalties on employers exploiting temporary skilled workers. This includes the development and utilisation of public registers to enable greater monitoring and choice for employees, alongside increased collaboration with agencies like the Australian Tax Office.
- Restrict the residence of international graduates lacking in-demand skills to stay in Australia.
- Narrow down the eligible courses for international students, emphasising the retention of tertiary university courses.
- Counteract course swapping.
- Allocate more funding for visa integrity supporting activities.
Temporary Graduate Visa Holders (subclass 485)
Significant changes will be made to this visa type. The focus will be on international graduates with skills sought by Australian employers. This includes:
- Shortening the duration of stay to just two years.
- Prohibiting Graduate visa holders from transitioning back to student visas (end the vicious circle!)
- Restricting the residence rights of international graduates without in-demand skills in Australia.
- Lowering the age eligibility from 50 to 35 years.
- Raising the English language proficiency requirements.
Deepening Ties With People in the Indo-Pacific
The Australian Government plans to expand the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) Scheme and deliver a new Pacific Engagement Visa (PEV) to encourage labour mobility from the relevant regions.
Source: Department of Home Affairs