Australia migration changes: New Skills in Demand visa

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Australia has announced huge changes to its migration system which are designed to limit the number of long-term temporary migrants and offer more visa holders pathways to permanent residency.

A new 4-year temporary skilled visa – the Skills in Demand visa – will give sponsored migrants about 3 months to find an alternate sponsor if they leave their job and offer a guaranteed pathway to permanent residency.

The government plans to develop a register for businesses which sponsor skilled visas to make it easier for migrants to find alternate work arrangements.

Sponsoring businesses will also be allowed to pay for these workers’ visas on a monthly or weekly basis, instead of all in one lump sum and a standard median waiting time of 21 days for the Core Skills pathway will be applied.

This will reduce to just 7 days for the Specialist Skills pathway.

The Core Skills pathway is available to occupations on a new Core Skilled Occupations List and to be eligible, migrants must earn above $70,000. The Specialist Skills pathway is available to employees of an approved sponsor who earns above $135,000.

Other changes in the government’s 100-page strategy include more stringent English language requirements for students, including an increase in the minimum IELTs score to 6.0 for student visas and to 6.5 for temporary graduate visas.

Many graduates choose to transfer to a temporary graduate visa upon completion of their studies and the new strategy outlines plans to reduce the length of this visa to 2 years for a bachelor’s and master’s by coursework, 3 years for a masters by research and PhD and 1-2 years for a second visa for study in a regional area.

Sponsors in regional areas of the country will receive priority processing of visa applications and the requirement to advertise positions within Australia will be removed.

The skilled migrant points test will also be reformed with graduate international students working in skilled jobs eligible for permanent residency faster than graduates working in lower skilled jobs.

Migration to Australia has exceeded 500,000 in the last year and many in the country were calling for fewer migrants to be granted visas, the country is still feeling the effects of the pandemic border closures and it is hoped the changes will allow the economy to adapt to record arrivals.

There are still many skilled job vacancies and the unemployment rate remains at a very low 3.7% as of October despite increased immigration over the past year.