The migration industry has seen interesting changes in the last 2 years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and February was no different. Below are some updates from the Department of Home Affairs in relation to skilled workers.
Temporary Employer Sponsored Visas – STSOL occupation to PR Pathway
In November 2021 Minister Hawke announced enhanced permanent residence pathways for TSS (subclass 482) visa holders whose occupations appear on the Short Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) and those who held the legacy subclass 457 who no longer meet the age required for a permanent residence subclass 186 visa. We understand that the changes will not be restricted to specific sectors and will apply to all occupations. The Department is currently developing the legislation for these changes and we expect these changes to come into effect around middle of this year.
Where a TSS or subclass 457 visa expire before the changes come into effect and the applicant is restricted from applying for a further visa, the Department suggests submitting a subclass 408 Pandemic visa to enable applicants to remain lawful whilst they wait for the PR pathway to be introduced.
Employer Sponsored Program
Many visa applicants and businesses would have noticed a delay with the processing of visa applications caused by staff absences as a result of isolation rules and staff contracting COVID. We understand that processing is now returning to more normal timeframes. However, please note that certain visa categories are being prioritised regardless of application lodgement date.
The Department will continue to prioritise TSS (subclass 482) applications with occupations on the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL), Global Talent Employer Sponsored Agreement and Agriculture and Critical sectors. Ageing onshore TSS visa applications are also now actively being progressed.
The processing time for all remaining applications is dependent on current travel restrictions, changes in application volumes, complex cases and incomplete applications. To ensure efficient and effective processing, we recommend submitting a decision ready application.
General Skilled Migration Program
Applications submitted for individuals employed in critical sectors or with skills critical to Australia’s response to COVID-19 and economic recovery will be prioritised. Individuals with an application that has a lower priority will experience longer processing times which may exceed the advertised processing time.
The Department will continue with quarterly invitations rounds, as it balances the need to maintain public health orders and job opportunities for Australians in order effectively respond to the immediate and subsequent impacts of COVID-19.
Should you have any questions about these transitional arrangements, please don’t hesitate to contact our migration lawyers.