Announced changes for 2018 could make immigrating to Australia easier for skilled workers

The Australian Government has announced changes to the skilled occupation lists of the immigration intake program for this year, which took effect on 17 January. These changes mean that an additional three occupations will be added to the Skilled Occupation Lists (SOL), increasing opportunities for skilled workers to migrate to Australia. Any applications made prior to the effective date of January 17 will be considered under the previous arrangements.

The January 2018 changes mean that the following three occupations which were previously not included on either of the two SOL are now listed on the Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL): Psychotherapists, Property Managers, and Real Estate Representatives. For the latter two occupations, the STSOL specifies that these occupations need to be for positions with a nominated base salary of more than AUD$65,000 and for certain types of businesses, namely those with at least five employees, a minimum annual turnover of one million dollars (AUD) and are located in areas designated as rural areas as defined by the Department of Home Affairs.

There are two SOL which prescribe which occupations are eligible for Australia’s skilled visa programs: the STSOL and the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL). The aim of the MLTSSL is to fill needs gaps in the Australian workforce by bringing in foreign workers with particular skills and from specific occupations. As a medium to long term plan for the Australian economy, rather than an immediate stop-gap, this scheme seeks medium and long-term migrants who will contribute to the Australian workforce over a longer period. As such, the Australian Government is continually assessing the needs of the economy and adds new occupations to the list accordingly, such as those added this month.

The changes effective 17 January also mean that two occupations, Horse Breeder and Management Consultant, will be moved from the STSOL list to the MTLSSL. Both of these only apply to nominated positions in rural areas and in the case of the Management Consultant, for positions with a minimum base salary of AUD$90,000 and for businesses of at least five employees and an annual turnover of at least one million dollars annually. Two occupations, Building Associate and Hair/Beauty Salon Manager were removed from the lists.

Skilled migrants from the eligible occupations mentioned on the STSOL and MTLSSL lists can enter Australia on a range of work visas. One of the most common is the temporary skilled work visa, or 457 visa, which allows eligible workers and their spouse and dependents to work in Australia for up to four years. According to official Depart of Home Affairs figures over 8,000 457 visas were granted to skilled workers from January to September 2017, and as of September last year there were around 90,000 current 457 visa-holders living and working in Australia.



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