Migration Update: Inquiry into Australia’s skilled migration program

Guest post by Amanda Tinner, Visa Executive

Australian Government may reserve places on flights and in quarantine for skilled migrants

A Coalition-dominated committee reviewing Australia’s skilled migration program handed down its interim report last week, including a controversial recommendation that the Government reserve places on flights and in quarantine for skilled migrants.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented disruption to Australia’s immigration program and the need for an immediate review of the effectiveness of our skilled migration program. The Committee’s report claims that 500,000 temporary visa holders left Australia as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and that 94% of Australians who lost their job or were stood down are now back at work. Job vacancies in November 2020 were higher than any time in the past 10 years. As a result, significant skill shortages persist in the economy, hampering Australia’s economic recovery.

After reviewing submissions from a range of stakeholders, the Committee’s interim report focussed on immediate adjustments to the skilled migration program necessary in the context of the future of work and pandemic recovery, as well as Australia’s competitiveness in attracting entrepreneurs, start-ups, venture capital, and the world’s best and brightest skilled migrants with cutting edge skills.

Other recommendations of the Committee included:

· Streamlined and less prescriptive labour market testing requirements.

· Temporary relief for employers from the Skilling Australia Fund Levy payments.

· Greater transparency on where employer sponsored visa applications sit in the processing queue.

· Greater flexibility in visa conditions to allow visa holders in certain industries to move between employers without making a new visa application.

· Urgent expansion of the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List to include Chefs, Veterinarians, Café and Restaurant Managers, and Seafarers.

· Urgent review of the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List, in consultation with relevant stakeholders, with a view to expanding the number of occupations to better reflect the urgent skills shortages in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic recovery with particular consideration given to civil engineers, electrical engineers, motor mechanics, cooks, carpenters, electricians and other roles in the hospitality, trades, agriculture and manufacturing sectors.

· Improved processing times for employer sponsored applications, including prioritisation of onshore applicants in relevant employment.

· A clearer pathway to permanent residency for employer sponsored visa holders.

· Establishment of a global marketing campaign to attract global talent and investment.

The Committee encourages interested parties to respond to the interim report. Submissions for the remining Terms of Reference are due by 31 March 2021 and will help shape their final report and recommendations. Visa Executive Pty Ltd will be making a submission and welcomes industry feedback via email at sarah.loch-wilkinson@visaexecutive.com.

Published by: The Employee Mobility Institute, March 2021

About the Author:

The Employee Mobility Institute is Australia’s peak industry body specifically focused on global workforce management, including talent mobility. Its mission is to advocate, promote, represent and support the growth of the Australian / New Zealand Talent Mobility Industry.

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