program. The number of places allocated for next year remains steady at 190,000, maintaining the largest migrant intake since 1945. Skilled migration visas including employer sponsored, general skilled and business, innovation and investment visas continue to be the main focus of the program, comprising approximately 67 per cent. The Government also announced a reprioritisation towards employer sponsored visas with 1000 additional places for ENS and RSMS.
Employer sponsored visas continue to be the most popular route to permanent residence for 457 visa holders, who make up close to 75 per cent of all applicants. The remainder apply through General Skilled Migration without the sponsorship of an employer, or through Family Migration categories. In the 2013–14 program year to 31 March 2014, the number of 457 visa holders who were granted permanent residence (including provisional permanent visas) was up 39.6 per cent compared with the same period in the previous year, reflecting a strong interest in permanent residence from this cohort of temporary visa holders.
As this program year draws to a close it is likely there will be more resources invested in the processing of employer sponsored visas as the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) works to meet its planning levels in the lead up to 30 June. Extra resources have already reduced standard processing times to 2–3 months from the standard quoted time of 5–6 months for nationals from low risk countries. Another initiative which has contributed to faster processing is a new allocation system. Cases are distributed amongst the three processing centres in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth on the basis of capacity as opposed to the head office location of the nominating company, which was the practice previously.
DIBP is currently reviewing the 457 visa program and it is anticipated that changes will be forthcoming in the second half of this year, once the Government gains control of the Senate. If the changes are substantial then it is likely that there will be adjustments to the current policy settings for employer sponsored visas.
To help employers to manage employer sponsored visas, Fragomen is hosting a free webinar in June on How to Navigate Employer Sponsored Permanent Residence: Avoiding the Pitfalls
. If you would like an invitation to this special online event, please contact us on Australiainfo@fragomen.com
Other budget announcements included:
- Establishment of a new ‘Australian Border Force’ from 1 July 2015 combining the functions of DIBP and Australian Customs and Border Protection;
- Removal of DIBP ‘industry’ outreach officers from 1 July 2014;
- Additional places allocated to the Partner, Child and Contributory Parent visas;
- Closure of the Non-Contributory Parent and Other Family categories (Carer, Aged Dependent Relative and Remaining Relative visas);
- Increased funding for the Student visa program to attract international students; and
- Signing of a reciprocal Work and Holiday agreement with Greece for young adults aged 30 years and under.
For more information on employer sponsored migration or for an invitation to our special June webinar, How to Navigate Employer Sponsored Permanent Residence: Avoiding the Pitfalls
, please contact us on Australiainfo@fragomen.com
Despite the controversy in this year’s Federal Budget, there was some welcome news for employers. The Budget included the release of the 2014–15 planning levels for the permanent