Changes to the points test for skilled migration will modernise the system and help Australian businesses access the overseas talent they need.
On December 11, 2023, the Australian Government announced a comprehensive visa program overhaul and a migration strategy aimed at “fixing Australia’s broken migration system”.
The results of a “once in a generation” review of Australia’s migration system, the strategy is focused on bringing migration back to sustainable levels while ensuring Australia has the skills it needs for the future.
The changes under the proposed reforms include:
- Extended migration planning (beyond the current 12 months).
- A new Skills in Demand visa to replace the Temporary Skill Shortage (subclass 482) visa.
- A new payment model for the Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) Government Levy.
- Streamlining Labour Market Testing (LMT) requirements, such as removing the requirement to advertise on Workforce Australia.
- Changes to student and temporary graduate visas.
- Tailoring regional visas and the Working Holiday Maker Program to support regional Australia and its workers.
- A commitment to explore a reformed points test for permanent skilled migration.
Changes to the Skilled Migration Points Test
Skilled Independent, Skilled Nominated and most Regional visas require applicants to pass what’s known as a ‘points test’. This test has applied for many years but the factors are actually likely to be poor predictors of success in the labour market.
Under the current system, migrants are often awarded points for persistence and their ability to prolong their stay in Australia, rather than their contribution to Australia’s long-term economic needs.
The Government has recognised a need to simplify and update the basis for selecting independent skilled migrants, to get the balance right between selecting the best temporary visa holders seeking to stay permanently, while also attracting highly-skilled permanent migrants.
The government has said the current points test used to select independent skilled migrants is complex and does not effectively attract migrants who are best able to contribute to Australia’s long-term prosperity. The recommendation is for more consideration to be given to the skills of secondary applicants and for points offered via the test for different migrant characteristics to be re-calibrated.
As reported by Inside Story, the aim of overhauling the points test is to reward skill over “perseverance” so international student graduates working in their professional fields have a faster route to settlement and long-term residence in Australia, while graduates stuck in lower-level jobs are screened out.
How Will this Affect Australian Employers?
Australia’s talent drought is no secret but Inside Story points out of the almost 200,000 Temporary Graduate visa holders in Australia, most are struggling to find jobs in line with their qualifications. They take on low-skill work, but this prevents them from amassing the points needed to qualify as skilled migrants.
In the design of a new and simpler points test, the Government will ensure there are clear and fair pathways for temporary skilled sponsored migrant workers to apply for independent pathways to permanent residence.
While it’s not clear exactly what a revised points test will entail, it will balance the way individuals can amass points on their way to qualifying for a skilled permanent visa. For example, there will be an update to the number of points earned based on age, experience and education.
Changes to the points test and other skills should also facilitate faster, smoother pathways to help skilled graduates on temporary visas to stay permanently.
More details about the revised points test are expected to be released shortly, giving employers a better idea of how they can support the transition of skilled migrants to Australia.