Reforms to the permanent employer sponsored migration program will improve the program’s ability to meet Australia’s economic needs and simplify the pathway for 457 visa holders to permanent residence.
The reforms, effective 1 July, are designed to help the Australian Government respond swiftly to labour market demands, while ensuring that limited program places go to those who will make the greatest contribution to Australia.
A new visa structure will be introduced, which comprises two new visas replacing the current employer sponsored visa classes and subclasses. (http://www.immi.gov.au/skilled/skilled-workers/_pdf/skilled-migration-diagrams.pdf)
The new visa structure includes the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) and the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS).
The ENS allows Australian employers to sponsor skilled foreign workers to address skill shortages in their business located throughout Australia. The RSMS is designed to support employers in regional, remote or low population growth areas, to recruit the skilled workers they need to manage and grow their operations where they cannot be filled locally.
Within each of these visas are three streams:
- Temporary Residence Transition stream for subclass 457 visa holders who have worked for their employer for two years and the employer wants to offer them a permanent position in that occupation.
- Direct Entry stream for ENS and RSMS applicants who are untested in the Australian workforce and are not catered for in the Temporary Residence Transition or Agreements streams. Within this stream the range of occupations has broadened to include ANZSCO skill levels 1–3 occupations.
- Agreements stream for applicants who are sponsored by an employer through a labour agreement or regional migration agreement.
An employer or visa applicant will need to meet the requirements of the particular stream.
Simplifying the pathway to permanent residence
The permanent employer sponsored program reforms will see the implementation of a streamlined pathway to permanent residence for subclass 457 visa holders under the new Temporary Residence Transition stream.
The transition to permanent residence will be simpler and fast-tracked for applicants who hold a 457 visa and have worked for the same employer for a continuous period of two years on a full-time basis. Their English language ability will not be further scrutinised if they have previously completed tests for their 457 visa application, registration or licensing. However, if the applicant has not completed an International English Language Test System (IELTS) test, they may be required to meet the English language capability assessment—with a minimum of IELTS 5 in all modules (or equivalent).
For applicants who do not meet the Temporary Residence Transition stream, then the Direct Entry or Agreements streams are options available for consideration.
The Direct Entry stream is a more rigorous application process for applicants who have not been tested or proven in the Australian labour market. The minimum standard will be set higher for skills assessments and English language skills with a required IELTS rating of 6. In recognition of the value of extensive work experience, applicants up to 50 years of age can apply.
The Agreements stream will continue to allow employers to recruit a specified number of semi-skilled or highly skilled workers under a labour agreement negotiated by the employer with the government. The skills, age and English language requirements for workers under labour agreements will continue to be negotiated according to the needs of Australian employers.
There will be opportunity for exemptions approved by the minister for age, skills and English language ability. Exemptions will be based on a person’s nominated occupation, salary or the time they have been employed with their nominator.
For more information on the changes see the Frequently Asked Questions on the department’s website at www.immi.gov.au/skilled/.