New priority processing arrangement for Australian Businesses sponsoring migrant workers on permanent and temporary skilled visa programs

New priority allocation directives for Australia’s skilled visa programs help support Australian businesses through the post-COVID-19 recovery effort through employer sponsorship of migrant workers.

Australian businesses make up the backbone of the Australian economy. During the pandemic, it is imperative that our small businesses can adjust, recover, and plan for success in the “new normal” of the post-COVID-19 context. One such strategy includes the retention and recruitment of highly skilled migrant workers to fill key positions in critical industry sectors, which cannot otherwise be filled by the local labour market alone.

From registered nurses, medical professionals, and engineers, to chefs, aged care workers, ICT professionals, and agriculture sector occupations, Australian businesses have had to look to the pool of skilled migrants to fill these employment gaps. The government also recognizes that there is a shortage of skilled workers in critical sectors within the Australian workforce, and has dedicated its resources into developing more streamlined processes for businesses to sponsor skilled migrants with occupations on the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL), as well as those with occupations in the Agricultural and other critical sectors.

Ministerial Direction 91 and 92

The Minister of Immigration, the Hon. Alan Tudge MP, recently announced the latest Ministerial Directives to the Department of Home Affairs to enable priority processing for permanent and temporary work visa applications to support Australia’s post-COVID-19 economic recovery effort and expedite processing for critical industry sectors.

In addition to giving priority to applicants within Australia, Ministerial Directions 91 and 92 will also allow the Department to afford priority consideration of applications lodged under the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa programs made by Hong Kong and British National (Overseas) (BNO) passport holders, and those which relate to occupations on the PMSOL.

This is then followed by:

  • Temporary Skill Shortage visas under Global Talent Employer Sponsored (GTES) programs;
  • Applications for Employer Sponsored visas or a Regional Sponsored visa submitted for PMSOL occupations, for agriculture sector occupations, identified under a GTES agreement through the Global Talent program
  • Significant investor provisional visas and other provisional visas under the Business and Innovation program
  • Applications submitted under critical sector; and
  • All other provisional and permanent Regional and State Nominated Migration

Ministerial Direction 93

Direction 93 further outlines the order in which Temporary Skill Shortage, Subclass 482, visa applications will be processed by the Department of Home Affairs.

Priority   Class included in this priority
1 PMSOL occupations; Global Talent Employer Sponsored Agreement; Global Talent Program; and Agricultural Sector occupations;
2 Other critical sectors
3 Roles being undertaken in regional areas of Australia
4 Employed by an Accredited Sponsor
5 Employed under a Designated Area Migration Agreement or Labour Agreement
6 All other applications

What does this all mean for Australian Businesses?

Rapid change is being experienced by Australian businesses because of COVID-19, which has made a huge impact on the national economic landscape, industry to industry, region to region, and state to state. While some businesses experience loss of revenue and staff retrenchment, others experience growth and staff shortages, especially those in the medical, aged care, engineering, ICT, construction, and agricultural industries.

For these businesses, the new Ministerial Directives are intended to make it easier for employers to sponsor skilled migrant workers, both already in Australia and from overseas, by facilitating faster processing timeframes of the permanent and temporary work skilled visa applications. This will allow employers to retain, or recruit, highly skilled individuals to fill employment gaps that cannot otherwise be filled by the local labour market. It is a concerted effort by the Australian government to support Australian employers and bolster its post-pandemic economic recovery.

Whilst the priority processing arrangements for permanent and temporary work sponsored visas are complex and the migration space is, often tricky to navigate, they are intended to support businesses in Australia to retain highly skilled workers in order to assist them cope with the changes brought about by the economic impact of COVID-19.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about specific matters relating to employer sponsored visas.


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