Australia’s Migration Strategy – Looking Towards the Future

Written by Julie Williams | MARN 9903637 | Published 12 December 2023

The much-anticipated announcement of the Government’s new Migration Strategy has finally been revealed, including the new 4-Year Skills in Demand visa which will replace the Temporary Skilled Shortage (TSS) 482 visa.

Most announcements are preliminary with further detail yet to come, following further consultation. Most of the changes not coming into effect until late 2024.

What has come into effect as of 8 December 2023 is the simplification of Labour Market Testing, removing the requirement for advertising with Workforce Australia.

The strategy is focused around 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

The new ‘Skills in Demand Visa’ is being put in place to address major flaws in Australia’s migration system that have led to worker exploitation and failed to address labour market needs.

The new visa will introduce several significant changes to temporary skilled migrant workers, including enhanced flexibility for visa holders to change employers and find another sponsor (180 days to be introduced at the end of 2024) if their employment is terminated, and a clearer pathway to apply for permanent residency.

Extending the period for temporary skilled workers to find an alternative sponsor will also allow them to leave employers more easily which will reduce the risks of migrant workers being underpaid and exploited.

The government is proposing to task Jobs & Skills Australia with independently verifying occupations as being in genuine shortage before they are eligible for visa sponsorship.

New Skills In Demand Visa

Replace TSS (482) with a new Skills in Demand Visa which will be a three-tiered temporary skilled worker visa that will be valid for four years.

  1. Tier 1 – Specialist Skills Pathway
    1. Salary at least $135,000 per annum
    2. Any occupation except trades, machinery operators, drivers or labourers
    3. Processing time 7 days
  2. Tier 2 – Core Skills Pathway
    1. Salary at least $70,000 per annum (indexed)
    2. New Core Skills Occupation List expanded to include occupations that are currently under Labour Agreements
    3. Processing time 21 days
  3. Tier 3 – Essential Skills
    1. Focused on Care and Support economy

It is anticipated that the majority of visas to be provided through the core skills visa pathway.

Skills Australia Fund

Consideration will be given to collecting the SAF in smaller increments over time in recognition of the greater freedom of visa holders to change employers.  A monthly or quarterly payment model will be explored.

Labour Market Testing

LMT is to be streamlined, with the requirement to not have to advertise on the Workforce Australia site coming into effect from 8 December 2023.  The validity of the advertising period will increase from 4 to 6 months; although this won’t change until sometime in 2024.

LMT will be gradually phased out as Jobs and Skills Australia data on skills shortages improves and a Core Skilled Occupation List created as an alternative to LMT.

Points Test

The points test will be reviewed upon further consultation, with the development of a new analysis-based points test to identify more effectively the independent migrants who will make the greatest contribution to the country.

The government plans to collaborate more closely with states and territories in regards regional migration, to better target regional population needs.

Strengthening Protections

What will be implemented now, and not wait until 2024, is that the government will be strengthening protections for visa holding employees, by increasing new powers and larger penalties against employers who exploit temporary skilled workers.  The government will develop and use public registers to allow for increased monitoring and choice by employees along with an increased co-ordination with other agencies such as the Australian Tax Office.

Deepening Ties With People in the Indo-Pacific

Now and also in 2024, the government will expand the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme and deliver a new Pacific Engagement Visa (PEV) to encourage more labour mobility from the region.

Part of this reform will make it easier for business and eminent people to travel to Australia from Southeast Asia.

International Student Visas

  • Prevent the stay of international graduates without skills in demand for remaining in Australia
  • Reducing the types of courses eligible for international students with the focus on retaining tertiary university courses
  • Prevent course swapping
  • Increased funding for visa integrity

Temporary Graduate Visa Holders

There will be considerable change to these visas as they become more targeted towards international graduates with skills required by Australian employers, including:

  • Reducing length of stay to two years only
  • Prevent Graduate visa holders from moving back onto student visas
  • Prevent the stay of international graduates without skills in demand from remaining in Australia
  • Reducing the age eligibility from 50 to 35 years of age
  • Increased English language levels

 

Link to the Migration Strategy

Source: Department of Home Affairs & Migration Institute of Australia

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