Govt releases new skilled visa scheme

19/03/2018 - 12:58

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The business sector has cautiously welcomed the federal government's announcement of a new visa scheme aimed at attracting high-paid and highly skilled workers to Australia, with the changes effectively reversing some of the stricter rules announced last year when the 457 visa sub-class was abolished.

Businesses will be able to issue four-year temporary skill shortage visas. Photo: Attila Csaszar

The business sector has cautiously welcomed the federal government's announcement of a new visa scheme aimed at attracting high-paid and highly skilled workers to Australia, with the changes effectively reversing some of the stricter rules announced last year when the 457 visa sub-class was abolished.

Under the global talent scheme, to be established as a pilot from July this year, established businesses with an annual turnover of more than $4 million can sponsor skilled workers for positions earning over $180,000.

Technology and Stem-based startups will also be able to sponsor experienced people with specialised technology skills.

Businesses will be able to issue four-year temporary skill shortage visas, with permanent residency applications available after three years.

Employers need to prove they prioritise employment of local workers, and that there will be skills transferred to Australian employees from the visa holder.

Startups using the scheme must be registered with a startup authority.

The pilot program will be trialled for 12 months.

Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs Minister Alan Tudge said the new scheme recognised global talent as an important element of Australian business.

"We want to ensure that Australian businesses can access the best talent in the world, because this will underpin business growth, skills transfer and job creation," he said.

"At all stages, Australians are prioritised for the jobs, but where the skills and experience are not available here, we want to be able to attract talent from overseas."

Visa Solutions Australia managing director Dan Engles said many businesses were struggling today to come understand the announced changes, which are contained in 800 pages of draft legislation.

"We need clarification on how the department is goign to inperpret the new rules," Mr Engles said.

Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox welcomed the pilot scheme.

"The global talent scheme visa trial announced today puts Australia in a more competitive position to attract the world's best talent," Mr Willox said.

"The visa's focus on higher-end talent and Stem skills will be welcome to the many businesses and startups that are struggling to fill these types of positions locally.

“It also acknowledges the global nature of many of our businesses and will hopefully allow for the freer movement of employees between and within these enterprises.”

Mr Willox said today also marks the end of the 457 visa and the formal start of its replacement, the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa.

"During the transition to the TSS visa there have been a number of teething problems including the removal of certain occupations from skills lists and the restrictions on permanent residency," he said.

"Many of these problems have been addressed but there will no doubt be further issues around skill categories which will require the government to be responsive and flexible, especially given the changing nature of our workplaces.

"We are also conscious of the cost issues for many businesses related to the pending introduction of the Skilling Australians Fund levy for TSS visas.

"Businesses should at least be eligible for a proportionate refund of the levy should the visa holder leave early or transfer employers."

Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott praised today's announcement.

“The government’s scheme will give businesses the ability to expand into new markets, fill skills shortages and adapt to change,” Ms Westacott said

She said the concession the pilot global talent scheme provided in relation to the term of the visa, migrant age and the pathway to permanent residency were critical for attracting talent to Australia.

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