Expert workers wanting to move to Australia have been offered an olive branch by the federal government in their latest initiative which aims to open up more places for highly skilled migration.
For a while now, there has been pressure on the federal government from business groups and the tech sector to open up more places for highly skilled migration.
The announcement, by the Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs Alan Tudge, said the changes were designed to strengthen visa arrangements to ensure that Australian workers were given priority for Australian jobs.
Confusion over new STEM program
Visa Solutions Australia understands that the new uncapped temporary visa scheme specifically for high-income earners in science, technology, engineering and maths, collectively known as STEM, will be trialled from July this year.
While it could be an answer to many employers seeking specialist worker, there’s a lot of confusion around the new rules. As a migration company we’d like to see more clarification and details before we can say for sure how the changes will affect Australian companies struggling to find the skills they need, and how they should go about recruiting to stay on the right side of the law.
New visa changes
One criticism of the 457 system, was that many employers made little attempt at “testing”, or advertised the job in ways to discourage local applicants, e.g. with a low salary, so it is likely that stronger evidence will now be required.
Under the new Temporary Skills Shortage Visa scheme, changes coming into effect include:
· Expanded requirements for employers to advertise jobs in Australia before hiring overseas workers
· Tougher English language requirements
· A new requirement for sponsored applicants to have at least two years’ work experience (with some adjustments for specific occupations)
· Maximum visa terms of two years for the short-term stream, with capacity for one renewal, and four years for medium term stream
· Eligibility for permanent residence arises only after three years, compared with two years under the 457 visa.
Also, the salary of the position must exceed either the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold set by the Department (currently $53,900, plus superannuation) or another higher amount specified by it, and must be line with market rates for similar jobs
Just before this announcement, a similar program was announced for entrepreneurs in South Australia.
The team here at Visa Solutions Australia, get the feeling that in the policy section of the minister’s office they’re coming up with a few different variations on the visas that they think would be useful for employers.
They are trying to keep everybody happy, and because the labour market is so diverse. We think they’re probably hedging their bets. We know there’s probably going to be a federal election sometime in the next 12 months, and they’re making sure that enough employers have got access to the international skills that they want.
But looking at the mountains of documents relating to these skilled worker visa changes, many businesses may struggle struggling to understand the ramifications. There’s a lot of confusion.
What people are starting to realise is that this is a new wrapper but a very similar product. It’s more restrictive in some ways but the actual underlying system is very similar. If nothing’s really changed, we don’t understand how the government is going to resolve the issues we previously had.
Listen to this!
Our MD Dan Engles was able to make his views heard during a recent ABC interview which is also available as a podcast: