The second day of the Jobs and Skills Summit focused on skilled migration. The government has announced immediate changes to Australia's migration program, and flagged some for the future.
Immediate changes to Australia's migration program
The Minister for Home Affairs Clare O'Neil has committed to four areas of immediate action:
- Increasing the permanent migration planning level for 2022-23 to 195,000.
- Significant additional investments to reduce processing times. Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs Andrew Giles announced a plan to boost staff capacity by 500 over the next nine months.
- New programs to allow temporary visa holders who have graduated from Australian Universities to work in Australia for longer.
- Extension of the existing post-COVID-19 concessions, which allow certain temporary visa holders to work in Australia, to June 2023. This includes student and working holiday visa holders. For further details see our article, Mobilising overseas workers during Australia's skill shortage.
Future changes to Australia's migration program
Minister Giles also identified six areas of homework that the government would work on as it continues to develop its migration program:
- Ensuring the government's focus on permanent residency becomes a reality, by identifying further permanent residency visa pathways for temporary visa holders.
- Reviewing the skilled occupation lists to ensure that occupations are tailored to meet current skills shortages.
- Raising the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) from its current base of $53,900 to a higher figure that is not yet determined. This will increase the minimum annual earnings that must be offered to employer sponsored visa holders.
- Implementing a 'package of work' to address concerns around migrant worker exploitation.
- A proposal for industries to sponsor individuals for work in that particular industry sector, rather than being sponsored directly by an employing sponsor. This would allow employees the flexibility to change jobs within their industry sector.
- Addressing regional labour shortages and addressing small business concerns about access to the migration systems.
Many of these changes require substantial legislative change and may take time to be implemented.
Given the uncertainty surrounding these changes, organisations should seek professional advice before starting a visa application process to ensure they are selecting the visa strategy best suited to their business objectives. Obtaining professional advice upfront ensures that the process can be understood and that applications can be prepared efficiently and thoroughly.