• Australian Government Calls for Suggestions to Simplify Skilled Migration and Temporary Visa Programs
  • September 29, 2014
  • Law Firm: Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen Loewy LLP - New York Office
  • As part of its overall review of visa programs, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection has released a discussion paper to request input from key businesses, unions, migration agents, governmental bodies and other stakeholders to simplify and deregulate the current structure and operation of Australia’s skilled migration and temporary visa programs. In line with this review, the Department may extend the validity period of subclass 400 visas for temporary skilled workers from three to six months.

    The discussion paper contemplates reforms to the criteria which determine eligibility for visas under each program, including visas under Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS), General Skilled Migration (GSM), Occupational Training visa, the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS), Temporary Work (Skilled) 457 visa, and other temporary activity visas. The paper suggests reorganization of these visas into three categories:

    1. Short Term Migration, allowing temporary entry for work, specific short-term activities, or international relations purposes;
    2. Business and Investment Migration, providing a permanent entry pathway for investors, entrepreneurs and outstanding business people; and
    3. Skilled Work Visas, which would include the types of entry currently covered by the 457, ENS, GSM, and RSMS programs.

    The discussion paper indicates that many aspects of the visa programs are open to review, including how the different sponsorship classes may be reconciled, how separate application stages (such as sponsorship, nomination and visa applications in the case of the 457 program) could be consolidated into fewer steps, and whether criteria (such as English language proficiency, skills thresholds, age limits, and eligible occupations) could be simplified.

    The Department has indicated that this review should result in the most far-reaching transformation of the skilled migration and temporary activity visa programs in the last 20 years.

    Fragomen plans to submit client concerns about the current operation of these visa programs, particularly the challenges currently faced by users of the subclass 400 Temporary Work (Short Stay) and subclass 402 (Training Visa) programs.

    What This Means for Employers

    If the recommendations of the discussion paper are implemented, the current operation of visa programs commonly used by employers could change significantly, including the criteria for visa approval, current sponsorship regimes, and application submission and adjudication procedures.