Published on March 9th, 2012 | by john.weir1
Australia visa changes fast track skilled migrants – and increase age limit!!
The Australian government has created a “fast-tracked” system for employer-sponsored skilled workers to secure permanent visas, including the removal of language tests for some and increasing the age limit to 50.
Immigration and Citizenship Minister Chris Bowen has announced measures to simplify the process for businesses looking to use the permanent employer-sponsored visa program.The changes include the new “fast-tracked” pathway from temporary skilled 457 visa-holder to permanent resident under the employer-sponsored visa system.In addition, the current six permanent employer-sponsored visas would be replaced by two new visas, a move Mr Bowen said would make it easier for businesses and potential migrants to “navigate” the system.
Reform to the 457 visa or employer-sponsored visas comes days after Rio Tinto Australia chief executive Sam Walsh said skilled labour shortages were one of the greatest challenges facing the mining giant’s expansion plans.”An efficient and flexible skilled migration program is one solution,” he told a Perth conference this week.”But more broadly we need to ensure we’re an attractive proposition for job seekers.”
Western Australia’s resource sector would need at least 30,000 extra employees over the next two years, Mr Walsh said.Rio Tinto alone expects to almost double its Australian workforce, hiring at least 7,000 people over the next two years, he said.
Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox welcomed the move, saying he believes the changes should help alleviate the “tight labour market”.
“Notwithstanding the slow growth seen in employment over the past year, businesses across the economy are still experiencing skill shortages in key occupations, especially those in demand by the resources sector such as in engineering and the skilled trades,” Mr Willox said in a statement.
Removing language testing for existing 457 visa holders who apply for residency and increasing the upper age limit to 50 for permanent applications were “sensible” moves, he said.AIG has proposed the Government increase the intake in the next financial year from the current planned 185,000 places to 190,000 places with a continued focus on skilled migration.
About 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, according to Mr Bowen.”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,” he said.
Chamber Minerals and Energy Chief Executive Reg Howard-Smith said anything the government did to simplify the processes around skilled migration was welcome.
With so many projects in WA under development, a shortage of key skills was likely, Mr Howard-Smith said, and the changes would assist companies who need to recruit from overseas, while drawing in potential employees.
â€œMaking the transition from existing 457 visa holders toÂ permanent residents and raising the upper age limit to 50 may make working in Australia more attractive and increase the pool of potential skilled migrants,â€ he said.
Mr Howard-Smith said bringing inÂ workers from overseas would not be at the expense of the local working population.â€œThe resources sectorâ€™s first preference will always be training and employing local people however a flexible and targeted skilled migration program is part of the solution.
â€œInvesting in skills and training, increasing workforce diversity – with more women and indigenous employees and a flexible skilled migration program, will all play their role in meeting the skills shortage challenge.â€
John Adams, migration agent at Immigration2oz.com, is confident that the changes will result in more people being offered the chance to move to Australia.â€œThe changes, which have been expected for some time, are very welcome. Raising the age limit of the employer sponsored ENS & RSMS visas to under 50 brings them into line with the skilled visa programme. This removes the risk of 457 visa holders not being able to obtainÂ Permanent Residency above the age of 45â€.
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