Lobbying by universities, big business and medical research sectors has prompted Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to relax restrictions on this year’s controversial 457 visa changes.
Last Friday, Minister for Immigration Peter Dutton released an updated occupations lists for temporary and permanent skilled visas.
Mr Dutton said changes to the lists would protect Australian workers and allow employers to recruit overseas workers in occupations facing skills shortages.
“The government recognises the importance of enabling Australian businesses to tap into global talent to remain internationally competitive and support a strong national science and innovation agenda,” Mr Dutton said.
“The occupation lists are designed to be dynamic. Revisions to the occupation lists are just one element of the government’s reforms strengthening the integrity of Australia’s employer sponsored skilled migration programs and raising the productivity of skilled migrants.”
Mr Dutton also highlighted changes that mean even high-salaried applicants require English language testing and police checks are now mandatory.
The overhaul to the scheme, announced in April, split the old 457 visa into two streams – short and medium-long term – based on skills shortages in the community.
However a backlash followed the reforms when it became apparent that people in occupations on the short-term list, including chief executives and university lecturers, no longer had access to a pathway to permanent residency.
Skills highly in demand in advanced manufacturing, construction and mining, engineers and environmental scientists, as well as in ICT and the pharmaceutical industry, are well represented in the occupations returned to the available skills lists.
Chief executive, managing directors, corporate general managers, and university lecturer are among 35 occupations added to the medium-long term list.
Their return to the medium-term, four-year visa list with a pathway to permanent residency has been welcomed by Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox, saying that it represents a positive response from the government to legitimate industry concerns.
The new temporary skills shortage (TSS) visa which replaced the 457 visa included increased English language requirements, stricter labour market testing and a test to ensure employers are not discriminating against Australian workers.
Mr Dutton said that from March next year, employers nominating a worker for a temporary skills shortage visa will be required to pay a contribution to support additional education and training for Australian workers.
He said employers would still be required to show they are making every effort to employ and train Australians in their businesses.
Further details of the revised lists of occupations eligible for temporary skilled migration and the other elements of the Government’s reform package are available on the Department’s website.