Recent Developments

As Covid rages on, its effects continue to be felt in Migration related matters-

State Nomination

In our last blog, we had discussed state nomination allocations for 2021-22. Since then, states have started to open their allocations for the 2021-22 program year, except Queensland which is expected to open in September 2021. Northern Territory also is yet to start allocations for 2021-22.

What is interesting is that although the doors to applicants from overseas continue to be shut and the focus continues to be on health and infrastructure, the state occupation lists for the current program year are larger than for 2020-21. This is because the Covid experience over the past 18 months has shown us that there are certain occupations which have become ‘critical’ and this has come to include hitherto neglected ones such as cooks and hotel managers along with Accountants, Internal and External auditors. For example, New South Wales had a skeletal occupation list in 20202-21 but this year, the list for the 190 visa has comprehensively expanded to include butchers, hairdressers, cabinet makers, bakers and pastry cooks.

For details of state nominations, please visit the following

Travel exemptions

From 11 August 2021, Australian citizens and permanent residents who are ordinarily resident in a country other than Australia are required to apply for travel exemption. Earlier, they were automatically exempted from Australia’s outward travel restrictions, but not anymore. However, there is a transitional period until 7 Sept 2021 when travellers who arrive at the airport without an exemption, will be allowed to travel if their status as ordinarily resident overseas can be confirmed by an ABF officer at departure.

Final Report of the Inquiry into Australia’s Skilled Migration program

This report from the joint Standing Committee on Migration has recently been released which makes some important recommendations. If implemented, these recommendations will have a lasting impact on the Skilled Migration Program and meet the requirements of visa applicants and employers. They are:

  • Develop a national workforce plan to ‘co-ordinate the efforts of State and Federal Governments to ensure Australia’s persistent skills shortages and future workforce needs are addressed through Australia’s higher education and vocational education systems, employment services and the skilled migration program’.
  • Develop a new occupation and/or skills identification system for the skilled migration program in consultation with industry to replace ANZSCO, which would be more flexible to adapt to emerging labour market trends.
  • Provide employers looking to fill jobs on the PMSOL with more streamlined processes.
  • The consolidation of the Medium and Long Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) and Short Term Skilled Occupation List (STSSL) into one list- the Skilled Occupation List (SOL)
  • When the pandemic is concluded the PMSOL should be replaced by an Acute and Persistent Skills Shortage List (APSSL).
  • The skills lists should be regularly reviewed
  • All employer nominated visas should provide the option of a pathway to permanency. However, conditions for permanent residence should continue to include Competent English language ability and applicants being under the age of 45.
  • Concessions for temporary regional visas including raising the age limit to 50, English language requirements to be at vocational level, and priority visa processing.
  • Review of the Temporary Skilled Migration Threshold (TSMIT- currently $53,900) to increase it. However, there would be consideration of exemptions or different rates for jobs in regional areas.
  • Longer graduate temporary visas of three years to provide more flexibility for international graduates to gain jobs and work experience in Australia
  • The Department of Home Affairs to update their visa processing system to make it a more streamlined process for applicants and employers.
  • Temporarily extend the timeframe for employers to undertake Labour Market Testing prior to nomination from 4 months to 6 months during the pandemic recovery.
  • Exempt businesses from Labour Market Testing when a 457 or 482 visa holder has been employed in the position on a full-time basis for twelve months or more and prior to their lodgement of a subsequent visa application or a permanent residence application.
  • Employers should be exempt from paying the Skilling Australia Fund levy twice for the same applicant, or for a subsequent visa, where the employer has already paid the Skilling Australia Fund levy for that employee.
  • Refund of the SAF Levy where the visa application is unsuccessful and there is no evidence of fraud on the part of the sponsor or applicant.

(Source: Final Report of the Inquiry into Australia’s Skilled Migration Program, Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia; Migration Institute of Australia)

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