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Review of the permanent Employer Sponsored visa categories

Today, the department released a discussion paper which provides the starting point for public consultation on the review of the permanent Employer Sponsored visa categories. 

The permanent employer sponsored visas, which include the Employer Nomination Scheme, Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme and Labour Agreements, have become increasingly popular with visa applicants and Australian employers. 

This trend is reflected in the changing composition of the skilled migration program.  Specifically, how the proportion of employer sponsored places now exceeds the proportion of general skilled migration (GSM) places.  In 2010-11 38 per cent of the skilled migration program was employer sponsored and 31 per cent GSM.  Contrast this with 2007-08 where only 19 per cent of the skilled migration program was employer sponsored and more than half was GSM.

 The growth of the permanent employer sponsored categories can be attributed to the shift toward an actively managed demand driven migration program, the popularity of the subclass 457 temporary visa program and the department’s promotion of these programs through the outreach network and Skills Expos. It is also expected that this trend will continue in to the future.

A demand driven skilled migration program recognises that employers are best positioned to identify the skills that they need to maintain, grow and expand their businesses, and should support them in their efforts.  That is, it should offer them the ability to source foreign skilled workers to address their skills needs where they have been unable locate suitable workers from the Australian labour market.

In this context it is vitally important that these visa programs remain responsive to the needs of employers.  This will ensure that the best outcomes are delivered for the Australian economy.  That’s why this review is so timely, especially given that the last comprehensive review was back in 2004!

In Budget 2011-12 the government announced that the permanent employer sponsored programs would be reformed to fast-track the transition to permanent residence for subclass 457 visa holders who have worked inAustralia for several years.

Providing a fast-tracked pathway for these temporary skilled visa holders makes good sense.  In 2010-11 83 per cent of ENS and 59 per cent of RSMS visa approvals were to people who held a subclass 457 when they lodged their application for permanent residence.

The fact that their nominating employer wants to continue to employ them, and will sponsor them for permanent residence, shows that there is a good fit between the visa applicant and the business.  It also demonstrates that there continues to be a need for their skills and that they possess the appropriate skills to perform the work. 

The discussion paper canvasses this topic, as well as a number of other key issues which will be considered as part of the review.  Interested members of the public are encouraged to put forward any views and ideas that will help to improve the permanent employer sponsored programs by Friday 16 September 2011.

The discussion paper can be accessed from the departments website here: http://www.immi.gov.au/media/publications/discussion-papers/skilled-visas