Australia Skilled Migrants | Interstaff

The visa process for skilled migrants earning above $120,000 (or potentially as high as $150,000+) could soon be fast tracked to a matter of days or weeks, as part of the Government's overhaul of the skilled migration program.

Details of the Government's Migration Strategy were expected before the end of the year but it appears Cabinet has already signed off on the Government's response to the Migration Review and the Strategy may be announced much sooner.

Here's a summary of what the Australian Government has recently indicated to stakeholders and the media, and how business groups are responding.

A Tiered Migration System | High Salary, Less Risk


The Government's consultations with stakeholders indicate how skilled migrants may be classified into a tiered migration system, with specific benefits for the top tier.

This tiering was recommended by the Migration Review.

  • Tier 1:Specialised / Highly Skilled and High Salary Cohort
    • The salary threshold is yet to be announced, but may include skilled migrants earning above $120,000 (but could be as high as $150,000+).
    • The Financial Review reported that the Government flagged some occupations could be excluded from this tier even if salary requirements are met. This is yet to be confirmed but trades occupations may be excluded from Tier 1. This means highly skilled mining workers, chefs, and machinery installers who train local workers may have to apply under Tier 2.
    • Expected benefits of this tier may include:
      • No Skilled Occupation List
      • No Labour Market Testing
      • Fast-tracked visa processing within days/weeks
  • Tier 2: Skilled workers | 'Core' Visa Stream
    • For skilled migrants earning above $70,000 but less than the top tier salary.
    • An independent Migration Review recommended the creation of a data-driven skills list to qualify for this tier and no Labour Market Testing.
    • Greater focus on regulations.
  • Tier 3: Industry-specific Essential Workers
    • For skilled migrants earning below $70,000 per annum.
    • Intended for essential industries with persistent shortages – eg, aged care.
    • Highest focus on regulations and compliance (the Migration Review showed worker exploitation is more prevalent among migrants earning lower wages).

Read more about these tiers here.

How Business Groups Are Responding

According to The Financial Review, here's how business groups are responding.

Salary Thresholds

  • Business groups are calling for a lower salary threshold of $98,000 for the top tier to ensure maximum access.
  • Unions are pushing for as alary threshold as high as $200,000 for the top tier to limit access to regulation-light features.

Exclusion of Workers From Top Tier

  • Some businesses are concerned that skilled trades people maybe excluded from the top tier, even if their proposed salary is above the required threshold.
  • Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chief Executive, Andrew McKellar warns this could exacerbate a blue-collar and white-collar divide in Australia.
  • Ai Group Manager, Innes Willox believes trades skills should be regarded as specialist skills and not excluded from the top tier.
  • Grattan Institute Economic Policy Director, Brendan Coates called for the top tier to be available to all occupations including trades as long as salary requirements are met. He also emphasised skills shortages in the construction industry.

Exclusion of Workers From Mid and Low Tiers

  • Small businesses in industries such as hospitality and hairdressing are concerned about losing access to migrant workers, as they may not qualify for the mid-tier due to salary and may also not qualify for the lowest tier unless it is expanded for use beyond the care sector.

Switching Employers

  • The migration overhaul is also expected to make it easier for temporary migrant workers to switch employers, rather than being bound to their sponsor. Some business groups are concerned about the difficulties for employers in regional Australia to retain workers if they can easily relocate to capital cities.

What's Next | The Government's Migration Strategy

Next week, Treasurer Jim Chalmers will release an employment white paper, including topics such as 'Filling skills needs' and 'Building our future workforce', which may reveal further details.

We look forward to the Government releasing its Migration Strategy, which could now come sooner than expected. It is touted to be a once-in-a-generation shake-up of the migration system to equip Australia with its skills needs for coming decades.

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