Migration Strategy – Employer Sponsored Visas

Impact on employer sponsored visas

SUMMARY OF CHANGES

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.

Impact of Key Changes

New Skills in Demand visa

This visa was introduced and intended to provide full mobility and clearer pathways to permanent residence for those whom wish to pursue this. Migrant workers will be afforded greater protections including the flexibility and mobility to change employers. Via means of allowing migrant workers greater flexibility In switching employers, migrant workers will be afforded greater protections and minimize vulnerability to exploitation and permanently temporary status.

Specialist Skills Pathway

This pathway was introduced and intended to drive innovation and foster job creation, recognizing the benefit to Australia’s national productivity through the potential to grow the skills and expertise of the Australian workforce. By providing a new streamlined pathway, employers can easily recruit high caliber talent in areas of need. These skilled workers will assist businesses in fulfilling labour needs in addition to acquiring specialist knowledge and skills lacking in Australia.

Core Specialist Pathway

This pathway was introduced and intended to meet targeted workforce needs, and will the pathway generally available to most applicants. The Core Skills Occupation list will be determined based on advice from Jobs and Skills Australia and which are paid above the TSMIT. The Jobs and Skills Australia Priority list is constructed through a comprehensive evidence-based process that takes account of a multitude of factors including tripartite engagement and input across government agencies. The Jobs and Skills summit will assess whether migration is an appropriate pathway support this analysis through stakeholder engagement. New ANZSCO occupations added in recent years will also be factored into the list as they are added by the ABS.

Essential Skills Pathway

This pathway was introduced and intended to provide a more regulated pathway for lower paid workers with essential skills. The Government is primarily considering the pathway in the care and support related sectors, vital in providing the necessary support to the living standards or Australian’s and where significant shortages exist. The arrangements may be sector-specific, capped, embedded with stronger regulation and minimum standards subject to further advice from Jobs and Skills Australia. The Government will seek to examine the Labour Agreement program to inform the new visa pathway alongside tripartite consultation.

Labour Market Testing

The move will streamline the process of Labour Market Testing, as the Government considered moving away from the requirement altogether and towards mechanisms for independent verification of labour market need.

Indexation of income thresholds to maintain system integrity

The current change, i.e. increase of TSMIT to $70,000 in effect as of the 1st July 2023 this year has sought to regularize indexation to appropriate levels. The new measure will mean the TSMIT will be retitled as the Core Skills Threshold when the system is implemented. Requirements for the visa will involve workers being paid a salary at or above the TSMIT or the relevant average market salary rate where it is above the TSMIT. This figure will be indexed annually in line with annual movements in Average Weekly Ordinary Time Earnings.

Summary

The changes with regard to the Skills in Demand visa were established as part of the formal role of the Jobs and Skills Australia defining the skills needs of Australia. The approach is intended as an evidence-based drawn on advice from tripartite mechanisms. The holistic manner via means of coordination of education, training and migration systems and consultation with relevant stakeholders, is in tended to ensure the migration system is best targeted to areas most in need and able to respond when the need arises. The system is intended to allow for regular evaluation and monitoring of outcomes and allow more streamlined responses for stakeholders.

The Specialist Skills pathway will allow a streamlined pathway for high caliber applicants specialist knowledge and skills not easily available in Australia, bolstering Australian’s competitiveness as a nation and economic benefit.

The Core Skills pathway is anticipated to provide the pathway for the majority of workers, similar to the current Subclass 482 Temporary Skill Shortage visa program. Regular indexation of the TSMIT is intended to ensure prevent downward pressure on wages, however, will result in wage increases for employers. The protections afforded to migrant workers will mean employees currently sponsored are not restricted to the same employee, a key feature of the Migration Review to prevent exploitation of foreign workers. The move to update a previously inflexible and outdated occupation list will be met with more uncertainty as Government moves to develop a single new list i.e. the Core Skills Occupation List.

Similarly, further guidance will be provided with regard to the Essential Skills pathway once the Government concludes consultation with relevant stakeholders.

Crystal Migration will provide further updates as information becomes available. If unclear with regard to the new release and impact on changes to your circumstances, please contact Crystal Migration Legal Services.

Written by Ross Ahmadzai

12 Dec, 2023

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