Impact on employer sponsored visas – What to anticipate in 2024

New visa Subclass – Skills in Demand visa

A new visa Subclass will be introduced with 3 targeted pathways, and visa settings with the goal to encourage migrant worker mobility in the labour market. The 4-year Skills in Demand visa will be introduced to replace the Subclass 482 – Temporary Skill Shortage visa (TSS).

  • Guaranteed pathways to permanent residence

Skills in Demand visa holders will have a pathway to permanent residence, with periods of employment with any approved employer counting towards permanent residence eligibility requirements. Via means of a reformed points test, Temporary skilled migrants will also be enabled to apply for permanent residence through self-nominated pathways.

  • More time to find a new job and work rights during this period

Should the employment relationship cease between an employee and sponsor, Skills in Demand visa holders will have 180 days to find another sponsor. Skills in Demand visa holders will have work rights during this period.

  • Trailing employer fees

To assist with worker mobility, the Government will consider a trailing fee model (e.g. quarterly or monthly) to assist hiring decisions and prevent sponsors from being dissuaded to sponsor employees.

  • Streamlined visa applications

The Government will seek to establish a medium service level standard for visa processing with regard to the new Skills in Demand visa, that being:

  • Skills in Demand visa – 21 days
    • Specialist Skills pathway – 7 days

The Government will seek to establish a medium service level standard for visa processing.

  • Public register of sponsors

For the purpose of providing additional protections and oversight mechanisms, the Government will introduce a public register of approved sponsors to assist migrant workers find new sponsors and allow a resource for migrant workers to check the legitimacy of a business.

  • Specialist Skills Pathway – Skills in Demand visa

The Specialist Skills pathway will be available to applicants whom meet the general eligibility criteria.

Key Criteria

  • Skilled in any occupation except for trade 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
  • Core Skills Pathway – Skills in Demand visa

The Core Skills pathway will be available to applicants whom meet the general eligibility criteria.

Key Criteria

  • Skilled in any occupation except for trade workers, machinery operators and drivers, and labourers
  • Earning at least at or above the TSMIT (the Core Skills Threshold) and no less than Australian workers in the same occupation
  • Essential Skills Pathway – Skills in Demand visa

The Essential Skills Pathway will be further evaluated by the Government as an area for future reform.

The goal is to provide a more regulated pathway for lower paid workers with essential stills in consultation with relevant stakeholders. Consultation is expected to begin early to mid-2024.

  • Legislate indexation of income thresholds

The Core Skills and Specialist Skills Thresholds will be indexed in line with annual movements in Average Weekly Ordinary Time Earnings. This indexation will be specified in legislation to provide clarify and predictability. Indexation is expected to commence on 1st July 2024.

  • Streamline labour market testing requirements

The Government has removed the requirement to advertise the positions through Workforce Australia.

The Government will seek to increase the validity of the Labour Market testing period from 4 months to 6 months. This is expected to be implemented in late 2024.

  • Modernised accreditation pathway

The Government will be expected to seek opportunities to assist approved sponsors gain streamlined access to migrant workers, opening the program to start-ups that have received venture capital from a registered venture capital fund. This is expected to be implemented in mid to late 2024.

  • Employer Nomination Scheme visa pathway

The Government has implemented key changes to eligibility requirements for the of the Employer Nomination Scheme visa – Temporary Residence Transition stream, enabling short-term visa holders access to permanent residency and shortening the period of time required to be employed with one sponsor from three years to two years.

  • Priority processing for Regional visas

The Government will immediately seek to amend Ministerial Direction 100 to prioritise visa processing for migrants sponsored by employers in regional areas.

Evaluation of regional migration settings to support development objectives in regional Australia and prevent exploitation of migrant workers

The Government will evaluate regional migration settings, including regional visas, regional definitions, regional occupation lists and DAMAs.

The review will be informed by the potential of an Essential Skills Pathway in the temporary skilled migration system. A discussion paper is expected to be released after consultation in early 2024.

Written by Ross Ahmadzai

16 Jan, 2024

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