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The Joint Standing Committee on Migration today presented the final report for its inquiry into Australia’s skilled migration program.

In releasing the final report, Committee Chair Julian Leeser MP stated “Over 500,000 temporary migrants have left Australia since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and the lack of skilled migrants coupled with record low unemployment has led to major skill shortages in many sectors of the Australian economy.”

The  Committee made 18 highly welcomed recommendations. Some however will need legislative changes,  subject to parliamentary approval, in order to take effect. As they are just recommendations there is no way to know if and when these changes may be implemented. We will of course continue to provide updates accordingly.

Regardless, Ajuria Lawyers is thrilled to see these recommendations  which are summarised as follows.

Recommendation 1 – Development of a dynamic national workforce plan

The Committee recommends that the Federal Government develop a dynamic national workforce plan. The plan would co-ordinate the efforts of State and Federal Governments to ensure Australia’s persistent skills shortages and future workforce needs are addressed through Australia’s higher education and vocational education systems, employment services and the skilled migration program.

Recommendation 2 –  Replacement of ANZSCO

A new occupation/skills identification system to be developed in consultation with industry to replace the ANZSCO. The new system should be more flexible to adapt to emerging labour market needs and focus on how the new system would integrate with other functions of government currently using the ANZSCO.

Recommendation 3 – defining acute skills shortages and persistent skills shortages

Develop accepted definitions of acute skills shortages and persistent skills shortages taking into account:

  • Recruitment difficulties
  • Length of time the shortage has existed
  • Number of job vacancies and the geographic spread of vacancies
  • Criticality of the occupation if left unfilled (e.g. nurses and general practitioners)
  • Criticality of the occupation to temporary circumstances (e.g. bushfires, floods or pandemics)

Provide  a more streamlined process for employers looking to fill jobs on the PMSOL.

Recommendation 4 –  Abolition of the MLTSSL and STSOL Occupation lists and creation of 1 list

Consolidate the Medium and Long Terms Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) and Short Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) into one list: the Skilled Occupation List (SOL).

Recommendation 5 –  Replacing the PMSOL with an Acute and Persistent Skills Shortage List

When the pandemic ends, the PMSOL be replaced by an Acute and Persistent Skills Shortage List (APSSL).

Recommendation 6-  Review of occupation lists

That the PMSOL and yet to be created SOL be regularly reviewed.

Recommendation 7 – PR pathways for those on the short term list

Pathways to permanent residence (PR) provided to those on the  short term list (STSOL).

All employer nominated visas should provide option of PR. The length of time to permanency and the conditions involved may vary from visa to visa with, for instance, applicants in lower skilled occupations taking longer to reach permanency than more highly skilled visa holders.

However the age (under 45) and English requirements for PR should remain the same.

Recommendation 8 – Regional Visa concessions

Regional visas to obtain certain concessions including:

  • Labour Market Testing advertising can be up to 12 months before lodging a nomination application
  • Raise the age limit to 50
  • English language requirement of vocational English
  • Reduction of prior experience required in occupation to 2 years and
  • Priority visa processing.

Recommendation 9 – Increase of TSMIT

Increase the Temporary Skilled Migrant Income Threshold (TSMIT)  which is currently set at $53,900 with some exemptions or different rates for jobs in regional areas.

Recommendation 10 – Changes to the Post Graduate Study work visas for those in ‘persistent skills shortage areas’

Changes to post study work arrangements for a subset of international student graduates
where those graduates are in a persistent skills shortage area.  They should receive a discount (only 2 years) on experience required for PR eligibility. Extra points should be awarded if applying under the points test system.
The Government should also consider longer temporary graduate visas of 3 years to provide more time/flexibility for graduates to find work.

Recommendation 11 – Intra-Company Executive Transfers

Streamlining for intra-company transfers for executive employees of multinational  companies including an exemption from labour market testing. This will be subject to strict integrity measures.  Consideration should be given to whether a separate visa category is necessary to enable intra-company executive transfers.

Recommendation 12  – Home Affairs Visa Processing systems

Home Affairs processing systems to be updated to streamline processes.

Recommendation 13 – Home Affairs Customer Service

That Home Affairs undertakes to improve their customer service in the skilled migration
program with consideration given to:

  • Establishing industry liaison officers to assist businesses in navigating the skilled migration program and provide feedback to the Department on emerging conditions in industry.
  • Provision of a specialist triage system to provide advice on complex visa applications including Making officials available to discuss visa applications over the phone and allowing skilled visa applicants and employers the opportunity to correct minor discrepancies without having to restart the application.

Recommendation 14- Labour Market Testing validity period

That the timeframe for employers to undertake Labour Market Testing before nomination be extended from 4 months to 6 months during the pandemic recovery.

Recommendation 15 – Labour  Marketing Testing exemption

Businesses should be exempt  from Labour Market Testing when a temporary visa holder has been employed in the position on a full-time basis for twelve months (currently it is 2 years).

Recommendation 16 – Training Levy Exemption

Employers should be exempt from paying the Skilling Australia Fund levy twice for the same applicant, or for a subsequent visa, where the employer has already paid the Skilling Australia Fund levy for that employee.

Recommendation 17 – Training Levy and Universities

That Universities should be exempt from the Skilling Australia Fund levy.

Recommendation 18 – Training Levy refunds

That the Government guarantee a refund of the Skilling Australia Fund levy where the visa application is unsuccessful and where there is no evidence of fraud on the part of the sponsor or applicant.

A full copy of the report including Ajuria Lawyers’ submissions can be found here.

DISCLAIMER This information is current as of date of publication and subject to change. The information contained in this publication is of a general nature only. It should not be used as legal advice. To the extent permissible by law, Ajuria Lawyers and its associated entities shall not be liable for any errors, omissions, defects or misrepresentations in the information or for any loss or damage suffered by persons who use or rely on such information. Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.

Have more specific questions about your visa? Get in touch with Ajuria Lawyers today.

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Author Lillian Ajuria

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