Discussion paper on visa categories launched

by Ray Clancy on September 13, 2011

in Australia Immigration

New information on visas launched

The Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship has released a discussion paper that provides the starting point for public consultation on the review of the permanent Employer Sponsored Visa categories.

The permanent employer sponsored visas, which include the Employer Nomination Scheme, the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme and Labour Agreements, have become increasingly popular with visa applicants and Australian employers.

The launch of the discussion is to reflect the changing composition of the skilled migration programme. This has seen the proportion of employer-sponsored places exceeding the proportion of general skilled migration (GSM) places.

In 2010/11 some 38% of the skilled migration programme was employer sponsored and 31% GSM whereas in 2007/08 only 19% of the skilled migration programme was employer sponsored and more than half was GSM, according to the DIAC.

A spokesman said that the growth of the permanent employer sponsored categories could be attributed to the shift toward an actively managed demand driven migration programme, the popularity of the subclass 457 temporary visa programme and the department’s promotion of these programmes through the outreach network and Skills Expos. It is also expected that this trend will continue in to the future.

‘A demand driven skilled migration program recognizes that employers are best positioned to identify the skills that they need to maintain, grow and expand their businesses, and should support them in their efforts.  That is, it should offer them the ability to source foreign skilled workers to address their skills needs where they have been unable locate suitable workers from the Australian labor market,’ the spokesman said.

‘In this context it is vitally important that these visa programmes remain responsive to the needs of employers.  This will ensure that the best outcomes are delivered for the Australian economy.  That’s why this review is so timely, especially given that the last comprehensive review was back in 2004,’ he further added.

In the 2011/12 Budget the government announced that the permanent employer sponsored programmes would be reformed to fast track the transition to permanent residence for subclass 457 visa holders who have worked in Australia for several years.

‘Providing a fast tracked pathway for these temporary skilled visa holders makes good sense. In 2010/11, some 83% of ENS and 59% of RSMS visa approvals were to people who held a subclass 457 when they lodged their application for permanent residence. The fact that their nominating employer wants to continue to employ them, and will sponsor them for permanent residence, shows that there is a good fit between the visa applicant and the business.  It also demonstrates that there continues to be a need for their skills and that they possess the appropriate skills to perform the work,’ explained the spokesman.

The discussion paper looks at this as well as a number of other key issues that will be considered as part of the review. Interested members of the public are encouraged to put forward any views and ideas that will help to improve the permanent employer sponsored programmes by Friday 16 September 2011 via the department’s website.

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