Australia introducing new visas for Skilled workers, while stricter rules for other Applicants

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Australia is preparing to launch a new visa program aimed at addressing critical job roles and promoting worker mobility, according to reports from The Economic Times on December 17, 2023. The Australian government, in its recently revealed Migration Strategy, outlined a comprehensive vision for the country’s migration system. As a key component of this strategy, Australia plans to enforce more strict visa regulations for international students and low-skilled workers, to reduce migrant intake by 50% over the next two years.

To bridge skill gaps and enhance workforce flexibility, Australia is introducing the “Skills in Demand” visa, which will replace the existing Temporary Skills Shortage (Subclass 482) visa. This new visa will feature three distinct pathways, each designed to attract temporary skilled migrants essential to Australia’s national productivity:

  1. Specialist Skills Pathway: Tailored for highly-skilled migrants crucial to Australia’s productivity, this stream requires guaranteed annual earnings of at least AUD 135,000. Occupations, excluding trades workers, machinery operators, drivers, and laborers, will be eligible.
  2. Core Skills Pathway: Aimed at applicants whose occupation aligns with the new Core Skills Occupation list, identified as facing shortages. Applicants must earn at least the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (“TSMIT”).
  3. Essential Skills Pathway: This pathway, currently in development, targets workers with essential skills earning below AUD 70,000.

Key features of the Skills in Demand visa include a 4-year validity period, allowing clear pathways to permanent residence, and a unique provision allowing workers to change employers during the visa’s validity, with 180 days to find another sponsor while still being able to work. The government is also exploring models for employers to cover charges, such as the Skilling Australia Fund, to facilitate hiring foreign workers. Additionally, efforts are underway to modernize the accredited sponsor pathway, streamlining approved sponsors’ access to migrant workers. The visa processing will be streamlined, with a service standard of 7 days on average for the Specialist Skills pathway and 21 days for the other streams.

The initiative not only addresses critical skills shortages but also emphasizes adaptability, providing flexibility to both workers and employers, as stated in a government release. The government is encouraging individuals to check the immigration criteria for eligibility.

In a related development, the Migration Strategy introduces significant changes for Indians seeking to relocate to Australia. These changes include enhanced English proficiency requirements for international students and increased examination on second visa applications, particularly for those seeking extensions. The reforms aim to ensure a higher level of language proficiency among students and streamline the migration system by evaluating the genuine intent and contributions of individuals seeking prolonged stays in the country.

Click here to check if you are eligible for the skilled worker program.

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