Australia’s immigration system is changing – here’s what you need to know

The Australian Federal Government is proposing several changes to their immigration system in an attempt to attract more skilled workers to their shores. We take a look at these changes and what the most in-demand jobs on the skills shortage lists are.

This content is supplied by Sable International

Australian Home Affairs Minister, Clare O’Neil, has released the long-awaited review of the country’s immigration policies. She previously stated that the immigration system was “not fit for purpose” and has many flaws that could lead to exploitation. 

There are three big changes that will come into effect in the coming months that will radically simplify the Australian immigration system

Proposed changes to the Australian immigration system

1. Minimum salary threshold to be raised

The review identified the Temporary Skilled Immigration Income Threshold (TSMIT), which is the salary benchmark used for entry into temporary skills visas, as part of the exploitation problem. Research shows that workers at the lower occupational codes are more likely to face underpayment. This is why the TSMIT is being increased from AUD 53,900 to AUD 70,000 on 1 July 2023.

2. Pathway to permanent residency for temporary visas

Temporary visa numbers have been uncapped since the Howard government, and they have been growing faster than permanent visa numbers. Despite this, there are not always clear pathways for these workers to remain in Australia permanently. This means that temporary visa-holders engage in a series of visa “hops” before gaining permanent residency, if at all.

The review suggests that all skilled temporary workers will be awarded an opportunity to apply for permanent residency in Australia. The change will come into effect by the end of 2023, making the permanent residency application process even more competitive.

Under the changes, temporary migrants will be allowed to move between employers to reduce the risk of exploitation and they will be given clearer pathways to permanent residency.

3. Three new tiers for Australian migration

Australia’s immigration system will be divided into three tiers:

  • Tier one – A “light touch”, which will provide a “fast and simple” route streamlined for high-earning workers. 
  • Tier two – A mainstream skilled pathway focussing on middle-income earners.
  • Tier three – For the essential industries, which will reorganise the country’s intake of low-earning migrants. This will address chronic shortages in lower-paid sectors, including in health and aged care, with a new points test for essential industries.

The General Skilled Migration (GSM) Programme

In a study of comparable countries, it was found that Australia had the most complex visa system of major Western admission countries, and it looks as if the Australian government will be trying to simplify this system with the above changes. The proposed migration system overhaul would ensure that the system targets the skills that the country requires, eliminating unnecessary delays in recruitment in genuine areas of skill shortage.

The GSM visa subclasses are: 

  • Subclass 491 – Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa
  • Subclass 190 – Skilled Nominated visa
  • Subclass 189 – Skilled Independent visa

These skilled visas do not require an employer to sponsor you for a job. Rather, you will submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) and based on your skills, and how much you score on the points system, you might then be invited to apply for a visa. It’s important to understand that submitting an EOI doesn’t guarantee you an invitation and an invitation doesn’t guarantee you a visa. However, if you have skills in a job on the Skilled Occupations List, and you are invited to apply, then you have a reasonable chance of success if your evidence matched your claims in the EOI.

One benefit of the current system is that each region can compile its own skills shortage list, which means that many occupations that aren’t featured at a national level may be featured on one or more regional lists. While we don’t yet have clarity on how this will be affected by the new system, there are some industries that will likely remain in demand. 

Industries that are projected to remain in high demand

Skilled workers include more than just highly-skilled occupations like doctors, lawyers or engineers. The country is in desperate need of people in trades such as plumbing, electrical work, bricklaying, carpentry, and plastering. It is also sorely lacking in people who can build roads, bridges, airports and railways. So, in addition to tradespeople, there are also shortages of civil engineers, construction project managers, railway engineers and diesel mechanics.

The following industries are projected to remain in high demand in 2023:

  • Health Care and Social Assistance (252,600 jobs in 2023)
  • Professional, Scientific and Technical Services (172,400 jobs in 2023)
  • Education and Training (113,700 jobs in 2023)
  • Construction (118,800 jobs in 2023) 

Which jobs are the most demanded in Australia?

Out of over 200 occupations listed on the Skilled Occupation List, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has stated there is a critical shortage in the following occupations:

  • Construction managers
  • Civil engineering professionals
  • Early childhood teachers
  • Registered nurses
  • ICT (information and communications technology)
  • Software and applications programmers
  • Electricians
  • Chefs
  • Child carers
  • Age and disability carers

Considering the move to Australia? If you’d like more information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Sable International at [email protected] or by calling +27 (0) 21 657 1526.

Their registered migration agents can offer you expert advice and representation for moving to and gaining permanent residency in Australia.

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