The Government’s migration spending is undergoing changes important to Australian businesses looking for globally recognised professionals. Australia is looking to migration experts to fill its critical skill shortages and drive investment.
A range of new initiatives are on offer to support key industries, given the National Skills Commission revelation that almost one-third of all occupations in Australia are experiencing shortages.
As well as opening up new places, to ensure key workers begin work in Australia as quickly and easily as possible, the Government has promised to commit funds to visa processing and work allowance reforms.
Opportunities, whether macro initiatives such as increases in place allocations for particular visa classes, or the introduction of specialised streams are easy to miss. Australian businesses of all sizes looking for uniquely skilled employees, need to stay abreast of the changing priorities to ensure they benefit from new opportunities. To make this task easier, The Migration Agency has analysed what current migration system changes mean for your business.
1. Clearer pathways to permanent residency
Australia’s permanent migration program has been expanded by 35,000 places, from 160,000 to 195,000. 90% of all new places will go to skilled migrants and over a quarter will be targeted for regional areas.
Skilled migration will continue to make up two-thirds of the migration program, while the family stream contributes to the remainder. Around 10,000 places from the partner visa program will be redistributed to skilled visa applicants. However, the number of parent visas on offer has also grown to almost double from last year, with an increase to 8,500.
A new Pacific Engagement Visa offers up to 3,000 additional permanent migration places for nationals of Pacific Island countries and Timor-Leste.
2. Accelerated visa processing and less red tape
The pandemic has put pressure on visa processing and some candidates have seen delays in their applications. To compensate, the Government has dedicated an additional $42.2 million to accelerate visa processing, resolve visa backlog and raise awareness of opportunities for permanent migration among high-skilled migrants. This means your business will be able to place your international talent quicker.
The Department of Home Affairs will also prioritise offshore skilled migration applications and on-hand New Zealand Stream Skilled Independent SC 189 applications.
Businesses involved with big sporting events should consider that visa applications for international teams, officials and official carers participating in the Virtus Oceania Asia Games 2022 will be free.
3. Relaxed work conditions for international students
International students are well-placed to address labour shortages. Most students are eager to work to make the most of their study experience, support their lifestyles and make new local friends. This is great news for retail and hospitality businesses, in particular.
Student visa and secondary training visa holders will be able to work more hours in any sector until 30 June 2023. HR managers, keep this deadline in mind to ensure the work you are offering students is in compliance with their visa conditions.
4. Additional places for distinguished skilled visa applicants
In a focus on excellence and innovation, the government will dedicate $19.5 million over two years to attracting global talent. The Business Innovation and Investment (9,500 places), Global Talent (8,448 places) and Distinguished Talent (300 places) categories will prioritise the world’s best and brightest workers and entrepreneurs.
Our experience has shown that the Government has previously applied a ‘use it or lose it’ logic to these categories. This means, if places are not used, they may not be allocated again in the next program. Global Talent Visa places are reduced from last year, presenting a timely prompt for Australian companies to utilise this program.
5. Additional work visa pathways
The National Skills Commission has confirmed the reality experienced in Australia since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic: care workers are essential to our collective wellbeing. Registered nurses, aged and disability, and child carers are in our top 5 most in-demand occupations.
There are an additional 500 places in the aged care training pathway for Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme participants.
Another welcome change for employers of itinerant workers is a one-time increase of 11,000 working holiday visa places. This will provide a much-needed boost to workers in retail, tourism and hospitality.
6. Expanded humanitarian visa and settlement program
Given the war in Ukraine, the Budget has committed additional funding for 3-year Temporary Humanitarian Concern Visas (Subclass 786) for Ukrainians.
One of the biggest settlement concerns for refugees, especially those fleeing conflict zones, is access to healthcare. Ukrainian Bridging Visa E holders, and their immediate family members, will have extended access to Medicare for 12 months. $600,000 in additional settlement funding will contribute to necessary community and settlement support for Ukrainian refugees and migrants.
The humanitarian program includes an additional 16,500 places for Afghan nationals, who will join the thousands of people already making a home in Australia.