Simplification of the skilled migration and temporary activity visa programmes
Written By Lauren Mennie
Fri, Jan 23, 2015
A proposal paper on the “simplification of the skilled migration and temporary activity visa programmes - December 2014” was released last month and follows on from a discussion paper published in September. The proposal was formed after receiving comments and suggestions from stakeholders across the industry, and is a further step in the governments initiative to simplify and streamline visa application processes.
The proposal looks to reduce the number of visa subclasses by removing certain visas and combining a number of current subclasses into newly named visa pathways. One of the key changes centres around the introduction of a Short Term Mobility visa, which would replace the current 400 and 488 visas. The intention of this visa is to be all encompassing and cater for companies who wish to bring in employees for short non-ongoing projects and intra company transfers. The work to be carried out would need to be highly specialised, and if the work is intermittent, a visa could be granted for a period of up to 12 months. A visa with a shorter duration will be given where the proposed activity and circumstances surrounding it warrant a reduced period, such as a clearly defined project that is contracted to run for a specified time.
Another significant change would be the formation of a new Permanent Skilled visa which would be a combination of the existing Regional Skilled Migration Stream and Employer Nomination Scheme visas. The document flagged that a future area for investigation under this stream would include the need to review the pathways to the permanent visas for existing Temporary Work (Skilled) 457 visa holders, by investigating the efficacy of these routes and determining if they need to be tightened, expanded or removed. There is also a suggestion that a faster pathway to permanent residence could be introduced on the basis of the skill level of the applicant and position.
At the moment the only visa marked for removal from the program is the Recognised Graduate 476 visa, which is a visa category available for graduates of overseas engineering courses. As a number of alternatives are available to applicants in this field, the uptake of the visa is relatively low (1100 visas were granted in the last program year) and its existence is at odds with the overarching policy to simplify and deregulate the visa framework, the department is of the view that it should now be repealed.
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