Significant changes to skilled visas unveiled
Industry insiders say a large number of prospective visa applicants will find it hard to meet the new requirements for some visas.
Changes flagged to the skilled visas by the Federal Government last year are due to take effect next month.
The government, last year announced it was axing the temporary employer-sponsored 457 visa which will now be replaced by two new Temporary Skill Shortage visas sometime during the next month.
The TSS visa will be available in two streams – short term and medium term.
Short term visas will be issued for two years, while medium-term visas will be issued for up to four years. A two-year work experience and market salary rate assessment will be mandatory, besides tightened English language requirements for the medium term stream. The short-term stream of the visa will not provide a pathway to permanent residency.
Many believe the mandatory work experience will eliminate many international students from the equation who were earlier able to apply for 457 visas.
Another equally critical change is being made with RSMS (Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme) and ENS (Employer Nomination Scheme) which will now, among other things, require potential visas holders to have a three-year relevant experience in the field they are being sponsored to work into.
The Department of Home Affairs confirmed during a recent seminar of migration professionals that changes to RSMS visa will be effective sometime in March.
Last year, a joint SBS The FEED and Fairfax Media investigation blew the lid off a visa scam involving RSMS visas wherein many visa applicants had paid up to $50,000 for jobs leading to permanent residency through RSMS visas.
The list of occupations accessible for these visas was massively pruned in April last year when the government announced the skilled visa reforms.
The Department hopes the implementation of these changes will help reduce instances of fraud in sponsored skilled visas.
Jujhar Singh Bajwa of Bajwa Immigration Consultancy says the mandatory work experience requirements will filter out a huge number of applicants, particularly students who were earlier able to avail of this pathway.
“I think they [students] will have to plan very carefully about what they study and where they study,” he tells SBS Punjabi.
Mr. Bajwa says these changes may push new students towards areas regional areas, such as Tasmania and Northern Territory.
“These are the places that give preference to former students who have studied there in state nominations.”
Sponsored skilled visas will also be subject to a new training levy of up to $5,000 which the government is hoping to implement in March. The legislation pertaining to that is before parliament.