Significant changes are coming in the next year! As often happens with the ever-changing migration law sector, further changes have been announced which are set to shake up the Australian migration skilled worker program.
The Federal Government announced on 11 December 2023 a new Migration Strategy for Australia, with the aim to get migration working for the nation and help deliver a prosperous and secure Australia (Migration Strategy, Australian government).
As part of this 10-year Migration Strategy, a new Skills in Demand Visa has been announced which is set to replace the current subclass 482 Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa. The details of the program and specific requirements are yet to be determined, expected throughout 2024 with some features implemented by late 2024.
Some key features of the Skills in Demand visa program is that it is planned to:
- Be a temporary skilled worker visa with a 4 year validity period
- Provide clear and ‘guaranteed’ pathways to permanent residence, including employer nominated and self-nominated independent pathways
- Remove onerous conditions that tie a migrant to a single employer, which is aimed at reducing worker exploitation and reducing barriers to job switching in the labour market
- Allow Visa holders to have 180 days to find a job with a new employer in the event employment ceases
- Allow for trailing employer fees to reduce the costly up front fees that currently apply
- Provide streamlined visa processing
- Make a public register of sponsors to assist individuals to find a new sponsor
The Skills in Demand Visa will have 3 pathways:
1. Specialist Skills pathway
The Specialist Skills pathway is aimed at attracting highly skilled migrants in strategic industries such as the technology or green industries, and will be available to applicants who meet the general eligibility criteria. In addition, they will also have to be earning at least $135,000 (the Specialist Skills Threshold) and no less than any Australian workers in the same occupation. This stream is not available to some occupations including trades workers, machinery operators and drivers, and labourers.
2. Core Skills pathway
The Core Skills pathway is where most temporary skilled migrants are expected to come through, designed to bring in the skilled employees Australia needs, now and into the future. This pathway will be available to applicants whose occupation is on a new regularly updated Core Skills Occupation List, are paid a salary at or above the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (to be retitled the Core Skills Threshold when the new system is implemented) or the relevant average market salary, and also meet the remaining general eligibility criteria (details yet to be confirmed).
3. Essential Skills pathway
The Essential Skills pathway will be a more regulated pathway for lower paid workers with essential skills, to be developed in consultation with state and territory governments, unions, businesses and migrant workers. It is likely to be structured around certain sectors such as the care and support economy; so this pathway would be sector specific, capped, embedded with stronger regulation and minimum standards and subject to further advice from Jobs and Skills Australia. The Government will further consult on how best to regulate migration for lower paid workers with essential skills in early to mid-2024.
Our lawyers are keeping their eyes on these changes as they unfold. If you are looking for guidance relating to your skilled migration prospects, you can make a booking here to speak with one of our migration lawyers for a free 10 minute call.