Australia’s Skilled Migration Program – Final report

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The final report into the inquiry into Australia’s Skilled Migration Program was released on 9 August.

The Committee made 18 recommendations that will shape the future to migration if they are implemented.  The list of the recommendations is provided below:

Recommendation 1 – Development of a dynamic national workforce plan

The Committee recommends develop a dynamic national workforce plan, The plan would co-ordinate the efforts of State and Federal Governments to ensure Australia’s persistent skills shortages and future workforce needs.

Recommendation 2 – Replace ANZSCO with a new occupation / skills identification system

Develop a new occupation and/or skills identification system for the skilled migration program in consultation with industry to replace ANZSCO. The new system should be more flexible to adapt to emerging labour market needs, with consideration given to how the new system would integrate with other functions of government currently utilising the ANZSCO.

Recommendation 3 – Defining acute skills shortages and persistent skills shortages

Develop accepted definitions of acute skills shortages and persistent skills shortages taking into account:

  • Recruitment difficulty

  • Length of time the shortage has existed

  • Number of job vacancies and the geographic spread of vacancies

  • Criticality of the occupation if left unfilled (e.g. nurses and general practitioners)

  • Criticality of the occupation to temporary circumstances (e.g. bushfires, floods or pandemics).

  • Provide employers looking to fill jobs on the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL) with more streamlined processes.

Recommendation 4 – Consolidating the occupation lists

Consolidate the Medium and Long Terms Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) and Short Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) into one list: the Skilled Occupation List (SOL).

Recommendation 5 – replacing the PMSOL with Acute and Persistent Skills Shortage List

When the pandemic is concluded the PMSOL should be replaced by an Acute and Persistent Skills Shortage List (APSSL).

Recommendation 6 – Skills List review

Skills lists be regularly reviewed.

Recommendation 7 – Permanent Residency recommendations for all TSS Visa holders

Change the visa conditions for the short-term stream of the Temporary Skills Shortage visa (subclass 482) to provide a pathway to permanent residency for temporary migrants.

All employer nominated visas should provide the option of a pathway to permanency. The length of time to permanency and the conditions involved may vary from visa to visa with, for instance, applicants in lower skilled occupations taking longer to reach permanency than more highly skilled visa holders.

Conditions for permanency should continue to include:

  • Competent English language ability; and

  • Applicants should be under the age of 45.

Recommendation 8 – Concessions to the Temporary Regional Visas

Provide further concessions for temporary regional visas, including:

  • Labour Market Testing advertising can be up to 12 months before lodging a nomination application

  • Raise the age limit to 50

  • English language requirements at vocational English

  • Reduction of prior experience required in occupation to 2 years and

  • Priority visa processing.

Recommendation 9 – Concessions on the Temporary Skilled Migrant Income Threshold

Review of the Temporary Skilled Migrant Income Threshold (TSMIT) (2017) in order to increase the TSMIT. Such a change should be made with consideration of exemptions or different rates for jobs in regional areas. The TSMIT is currently $53,900

Recommendation 10 – Graduate Visa Holders

Consider changes to post-study work arrangements for a subset of international student graduates where those graduates have:

  • Undertaken a university course (or a course run by a reputable non-university higher education provider) leading to a job in an occupation with a persistent skills shortage

  • Demonstrated excellence for instance by graduating in the top ten per cent of all graduates in their course or achieving first class honours

  • Met relevant English language standards

  • On graduation, worked in a job that is relevant to their field of study with a persistent skills shortage

  • Such graduates would be eligible for a discount on the work experience component for permanent residency under the employer nominated scheme from three years to two years.

  • For graduates applying for a points-based visa, additional points could be awarded for those graduates meeting the above criteria.

  • The Government should also consider longer temporary graduate visas of three years to provide time and flexibility for graduates to find work.

  • As a special integrity measure the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency should undertake special and regular audits of the assessment of excellence measure to ensure standards are maintained.

Recommendation 11 – Inter-company employee transfers

Enable intra-company transfer of executive employees of multinational companies to Australia where necessary for these companies to expand their operations in Australia. Streamlining should include an exemption from labour market testing. This measure should be subject to other strict integrity measures. Consideration should be given to whether a separate visa category is necessary to enable intra-company executive transfers.

Recommendation 12 – DHA update visa processing systems

The Department of Home Affairs update their visa processing system to ensure a more streamlined visa application process for applicants and employers.

Recommendation 13 – DHA Customer Service

The Department of Home Affairs undertake to improve their customer service in the skilled migration program with consideration given to:

  • Establishing industry liaison officers to assist businesses in navigating the skilled migration program and provide feedback to the Department on emerging conditions in industry

  • Provision of a specialist triage system to provide advice on complex visa applications including

  • Making officials available to discuss visa applications over the phone

  • Allowing skilled visa applicants and employers the opportunity to correct minor discrepancies without having to restart the application.

Recommendation 14 -Labour Market Testing

Extend the timeframe for employers to undertake Labour Market Testing prior to nomination from 4 months to 6 months during the pandemic recovery.

Recommendation 15 – exemptions to Labour Market Testing

Exemptions provided to businesses from Labour Market Testing when a 457 or 482 visa holder has been employed in the position on a full-time basis for twelve months or more and prior to their lodgement of a subsequent visa application or a permanent residence application.

Recommendation 16 – exemptions to Skilling Australia Fund Levy (SAF)

Employers should be exempt from paying the Skilling Australia Fund levy twice for the same applicant, or for a subsequent visa, where the employer has already paid the Skilling Australia Fund levy for that employee.

Recommendation 17 – Universities exempt from SAF levy

Universities should be exempt from the Skilling Australia Fund levy.

Recommendation 18 – Refund of SAF levy

Guarantee a refund of the Skilling Australia Fund levy where the visa application is unsuccessful and where there is no evidence of fraud on the part of the sponsor or applicant.

We are extremely pleased to see some proactive recommendations that will give certainty to migrants in the future and bring some common-sense approach to the Skilled Migration Program.

The recommendations will have to go through parliamentary approval to be in-acted and there will need to be some legislation changes for some.

We certainly hope to see some movement on these recommendations very soon so please keep reading our posts as we will provide any updates as they come through.

You can find a full copy of the report here

Please contact us for any of your company or individual immigration needs!

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