On Wednesday, 03 February 2021, the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, the Hon Alex Hawke MP, asked the Joint Standing Committee on Migration (JSCM) to inquire into and report on Australia’s skilled migration program.
Amongst other matters, the inquiry was asked to focus on:
- Revisiting the purpose of the skilled migration program;
- Considering whether the skilled migration program is meeting its intended objectives;
- Considering whether any immediate adjustments to the skilled migration program are necessary in the context of the future of work and (coronavirus) pandemic recovery;
- Considering if more long-term structural changes to the skilled migration program are warranted;
- Assessing Australia’s international competitiveness in attracting “the best and brightest skilled migrants” with cutting edge skills;
- Reviewing the current skills lists and the extent to which they are meeting the needs of industries and businesses and keeping pace with Australia’s job landscape;
- Reviewing the administrative requirements for Australian businesses seeking to sponsor skilled migrants, including requirements to prioritise job opportunities for Australians and job creation;
- Reviewing the costs of sponsorship to businesses seeking to sponsor skilled migrants;
- Assessing the complexity of Australia’s current skilled migration program including the number of particular visa classes under the program and their specific requirements, safeguards and pathways.
Interested stakeholders provided 186 written submissions to the JSCM. The sources of written statements were wide-ranging and were taken from individuals practising migration law, employers, private associations, educational institutions, union bodies, other Australian state and federal government departments.
On Monday, 09 August 2021, the JSCM released its final report into Australia’s Skilled Migration Program. Some of the recommendations the JCSM offered are as follows:
- Consolidate the Short-Term Skilled Occupations List (STSOL) and the Medium/Long Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) into one Skilled Occupation List;
- Develop a method of determining skills shortages and occupations lists that relies on dedicated and specific information rather than the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO);
- Determine improved methods for identifying acute skills shortages in Australia;
- Provide a pathway to permanent residency from STSOL occupations;
- Consider concessions or different rates of Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) for regional areas;
- Remove the need for Labour Market Testing (LMT) for subsequent visas when the current 457/482 visa holder employee has held the position for 12 months or more with the nominating sponsor;
- Exempt employers for paying the Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) levy twice for the same sponsored employee on a 457/482 visa; and
- Provide a 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.
The full list of 18 recommendations listed by the Joint Standing Committee on Migration is available here.
The federal government is now considering the JSCM’s recommendations and will advise which are adopted and rejected.
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