The Australian government is to cut red tape for businesses looking to address critical skills gaps by simplifying the permanent employer sponsored visa programme.
'The government will establish a fast tracked pathway from the temporary skilled subclass 457 visa to permanent residence under the employer sponsored visa programme, enabling skilled migrants to settle and work in regional and metropolitan Australia,' said Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen.

'These reforms will make it easier for businesses and potential migrants to navigate the permanent employer sponsored visa programme, while ensuring the integrity of our visa system,' he added.
Around four in five permanent employer sponsored visa applicants previously held a 457 visa and the majority of them stay with the same employer doing the same job.
'Skilled migrants deliver major benefits to the Australian economy in terms of contributing to economic growth and offsetting the impacts of an ageing population,' Bowen said.

'We know these workers can do the job and are ready to make a commitment to Australia, so it makes sense to streamline their pathway to permanent residence,' he explained.
The government will replace the current six permanent employer sponsored visas with two new visas and consolidate the existing three sponsored occupation lists, that is subclass 457, employer nomination, and state and territory sponsored general skilled migration lists, into one list.

The reforms to the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) and the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) will take effect on 01 July 2012.

Permanent employer sponsored visa places currently account for 39% of the total skilled migration programme for 2011/12, including 16,000 places through RSMS. The programme allows Australian employers to sponsor workers for permanent residence to fill skilled full time job vacancies in their businesses.