Post-Election Immigration Update

The Australian federal election is over, and we expect that the Liberal National Party coalition will retain government for the next three years. There has been no announcement on changes to the Minister for Immigration as yet, so we will need to wait and see.

Regional Visas

A retained LNP government means some assurance that the announced subclass 491 Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa and the subclass 494 Skilled Employer Sponsored visa will commence in November 2019 as advised. The push to prioritise the movement of migrants into regional Australia will remain strong on this government’s agenda.

Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMA)

Further DAMAs are in the works, supporting the regional push and assisting businesses in these areas to access skilled and semi-skilled overseas workers to meet their operational needs. There is greater flexibility in DAMA arrangements than in the Standard Business Sponsorship pathway, including access to a broad range of occupations, threshold salary concessions, and age concessions for permanent residency.

The Cairns Chamber of Commerce in North Queensland is currently in negotiations and is likely to announce a new DAMA in the coming months.

The South Australian Government has entered into two DAMAs with the Department of Home Affairs which are expected to come into effect on 1 July 2019:

  1. Adelaide Technology and Innovative Advancement Agreement– supports Adelaide Metropolitan region employers in the defence, space, and advanced manufacturing and technology industries with the ability to access and retain a highly-skilled workforce.
  2. South Australian Regional Workforce Agreement– covering the entire State of South Australia, this DAMA provides employers in the regional growth areas of agribusiness, health and aged care, hospitality and tourism, mining, and construction, with the ability to access and retain a skilled workforce.

Nomination Refusals – 457 and 482 (TSS)

Some interesting data has been released under the Freedom of Information Act, showing the subclass 457 or 482 nomination outcomes for applications lodged between 1 November 2016 to 31 January 2019.

According to the report, almost 10% of all nominations were refused, and a further 7% were ‘otherwise finalised’ or withdrawn.

Occupations with a high chance of refusal include Customer Service Manager (47%), Massage Therapist (40%), and Web Administrator (32%).

The greatest number of failed applications were in the hospitality occupations of Cafe or Restaurant Manager (1385 refusals, 698 withdrawn), Cook (1296 refusals, 788 withdrawn), and Chef (802 refusals, 496 withdrawn).

Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) Review

The released data also shows that there may be a large number of Australian businesses out of pocket, as the SAF levy is not refundable if the nomination is refused. Thankfully, the Skilling Australians Fund levy legislation is due to undergo a review in around November 2019, with many parties advocating for a change of the refund provisions.

Senate Inquiry into Temporary Skill Shortage visas

A report assessing the effectiveness of the current temporary skilled visa system was released in April 2019, with a focus on the temporary skilled visa system’s capacity to address genuine skill shortages. The Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee – who released the report – made a number of recommendations, including:

There has been no formal response from the Government at this stage, so we will wait and see if any of these recommendations will be implemented.

Accreditation through Major Investment

Earlier this year, Immigration announced a potential new category to become an accredited sponsor for Temporary Skills Shortage visas. The business would need to show an investment of at least AUD$50 million, though if the investment is of significance and will generate employment, a lower level may be considered on a case by case basis. No further policy information is available at this stage.