Last week, the Australian Government announced plans to simplify the permanent employer-sponsored visa program, in line with its attempts to help businesses address critical skills gaps.
‘The government will establish a fast–tracked pathway from the temporary skilled subclass 457 visa to permanent residence under the employer-sponsored visa program, enabling skilled migrants to settle and work in regional and metropolitan Australia,’ the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship said.
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.
The government will replace the current six permanent employer-sponsored visas with two new visas. It will also consolidate the existing three sponsored occupation lists which are – Subclass 457 Employer Nomination, and State and Territory Sponsored General Skilled Migration – into one list.
The reforms to the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) and the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) will commence on 1 July 2012.
Permanent employer-sponsored visa places currently account for 39 per cent of the total skilled migration program for 2011–12, including 16 000 places through RSMS. The program allows Australian employers to sponsor workers for permanent residence to fill skilled full-time job vacancies in their businesses.
The Minister said; ‘Skilled migrants deliver major benefits to the Australian economy in terms of contributing to economic growth and offsetting the impacts of an ageing population…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.’