Over the past few months there has been significant discussion in the media about the Government's Migration Strategy. The Migration Strategy was released on 11 December 2023. It outlines a new vision for Australia’s migration system, with a policy roadmap and areas for future reform.
One of the key measures of the Strategy is targeting temporary skilled migration to address skills needs and promote worker mobility. This will be achieved by the introduction of the new Skills in Demand Visa (SDV). In this article, we explain the features of this new visa, different pathways and expected implementation. Remember, the legislation that will create this visa is not available yet. The information in this article is based on the Government's policy statements. The provisions of the Skills in Demand Visa (SDV) may vary once the legislation is published.
The SDV will be an employer-sponsored visa. It is expected to follow the same application process of existing employer-sponsored visas, such as the Temporary Skills Shortage Subclass 482 visa. That is, sponsors will need to lodge nomination applications that will accompany the workers' visa application. More information specific to sponsors is provided later in this article.
It is likely that the SDV will replace the current Subclass 482 visa as the stock standard employer-sponsored visa solution. The SDV will have the following features:
Visa period of 4 years.
SDV holders will have a pathway to permanent residence. The specifics of the pathway to PR are yet to be announced.
Periods of employment with any approved employer will count towards permanent residence requirements. Holders will also be allowed to apply for permanent residence through self-nominated independent pathways.
If sponsored-employment ends, SDV holders will have 180 days to find another sponsor. They will be permitted to work during this period.
Applications will be backed by a processing service standard, enabling employers to fill vacancies quickly.
Specialist Skills Pathway
The Specialist Skills Pathway will be a new streamlined approach for highly skilled specialists, to ensure Australia can quickly and easily recruit top talent in areas of need.
It will be available to applicants in any occupation except trades workers, machinery operators and drivers, and labourers.
Salary threshold in this pathway will be at least $135,000 and no less than Australian workers in the same occupation. The salary threshold will be indexed annually.
A service standard of 7 days median visa processing time.
The Department of Home Affairs will establish a monitoring mechanism to ensure that employees are not paid less than their nominated salary.
Core Skills Pathway
Most temporary skilled migrants will come through the Core Skills Pathway. It is designed to bring in the skilled employees Australia needs now and in the future. It would be available to applicants:
whose occupation is on a new Core Skills Occupation List (CSOL). At the time of writing this article, the CSOL is yet to be published.
who will be paid a market rate salary that is at or above the Core Skills Threshold - starting from $70,000. The Core Skills Threshold will also be indexed annually.
Essential Skills Pathway
This pathway will target lower paid workers with essential skills. The Government is primarily considering the pathway in the context of the care and support economy. Consultation will soon begin to develop this pathway.
This pathway would be distinct from the Core Skills and the Specialist Skills Pathways. These arrangements would be sector specific, capped, embedded with stronger regulation and minimum standards.
Parallel to streamlined access to overseas workers, new measures will be put in place to strengthen employer compliance and tackle worker exploitation.
The Government will explore a model for employers to pay nomination fees on a pay-as-you-go basis (e.g. quarterly or monthly). This is aimed to make hiring a new migrant less onerous. Currently sponsors pay fees in advance to nominate overseas workers for employer-sponsored visas.
A public register of approved sponsors, including the number of migrants sponsored and their occupations, will be developed to assist migrants wishing to find a new sponsor.
Salary thresholds will be indexed annually.
Streamlined job advertising for employer nominations. The validity period of adverts will increase from 4 to 6 months. The Government will also consider moving away from employer conducted job advertising towards independent processes.
Criminal offences for persons who coerce a non-citizen to agree to a work arrangement.
Support migrant workers who are suffering by workplace exploitation by making it easier to make complaints and protections against visa cancellations.
The Skills in Demand visa is expected to open to new applications by the end of 2024. Other measures discussed in this article will be rolled out gradually over the coming year.
The Skills in Demand Visa will make it easier for employers to hire overseas staff. It will also offer visa holders greater job mobility and simplified pathway to permanent residency.
Much is yet to be known about the SDV and the legislation that will create it yet to be published. As always in Migration Law, the crux lies in the fine print.
Migrants who cannot afford to wait for the SDV to be born (particularly those onshore with expiring visas) may need to consider the employer-sponsored visa options currently at hand.
Stay tuned to ImmiUpdates for news on the implementation of the changes and more Australian immigration news. Subscribe to the next ImmiUpdate below.
Elan Rysher is a Registered Migration Agent and Qualified Student Counsellor. He is the main Writer for ImmiUpdates and the founder of Rysher Migration. Elan has many years of experience working in immigration, finance and health. Being a former migrant himself, Elan is passionate about helping others fulfil their Australian dream.
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