Specialist Skills Pathway

The Skills in Demand Visa is replacing the Temporary Skill Shortage (subclass 482) Visa.

The Skills in Demand visa will be replacing the Temporary Skilled Shortage (subclass 482) Visa with a three-tiered system for applicants based on their annual earnings and occupation.

Note: The Skills In Demand Visa (Specialist Skills Pathway) will likely be open to apply for by the end of 2024.

The first pathway is the Specialist Skills Pathway. This pathway recognises highly skilled migrants are hugely beneficial to Australia’s national productivity, including through their support of critical sovereign capabilities and potential to grow the skills and expertise of the Australian workforce.

This pathway will be a new streamlined approach for highly skilled specialists, to ensure Australia can quickly and easily recruit top talent in areas of need. It will, for example, help Australia attract highly skilled Engineering Managers who develop electrolysers to help with our transition to a net zero economy, Cyber Specialists who assist banks to respond to cyber-attacks and Software Engineers who help Australia embrace the artificial intelligence transformation.

The Specialist Skills Pathway will be available to applicants who meet the general eligibility criteria (for example, be nominated by an approved employer, meet the health and character requirements) and who are:

  • in any occupation except trades workers, machinery operators and drivers, and labourers
  • earning at least $135,000 (the Specialist Skills Threshold) and no less than Australian workers in the same occupation.

This Specialist Skills Pathway will recognise that migrants entering through this pathway meet a national need that is broader than filling a narrowly defined gap in the labour market. Highly skilled migrants bring significant economic benefits. They are more likely to bring productivity enhancing knowledge and ideas, create jobs for locals and generate significant fiscal returns through taxation. They help meet labour needs that exist at an individual firm level and assist companies in acquiring specialist knowledge, niche technologies or research expertise unavailable in Australia, and skillsets not picked up in occupational definitions. These migrants are prime candidates to choose other countries if we do not provide competitive visa offerings and better compete in the global race for talent.

The Specialist Pathway threshold of $135,000 closely corresponds with the 90th percentile earnings for all workers. It is forecast that this pathway could lead to $3.4 billion in benefit to the underlying cash balance over the next 10 years, not accounting for the broader significant economic benefit to their employers and to the Australian economy.

The Government will commit to a service standard of 7 days median visa processing time for workers in the Specialist Skills Pathway. The achievement of this standard will ensure Australia’s migration system is among the most attractive in the world for highly skilled migrants.

This Specialist Skills Pathway will, in its scale, remain a modest part of the temporary skilled program over time. The Government is committed to protecting the integrity of this pathway to ensure that the skills involved are genuinely specialised and in high demand.

  • The Specialist Skills Threshold will be indexed annually through legislation to maintain the intent of the pathway over time.
  • Jobs and Skills Australia will have dedicated resourcing to monitor labour market impacts of this pathway to ensure it supports job creation and upskilling of local workers. Tripartite mechanisms will be regularly advised and consulted on the use and impacts of this pathway.
  • The Department of Home Affairs will establish a monitoring mechanism to ensure that employees are not paid less than their nominated salary. Employers who pay migrants less than this amount may be barred from sponsoring any additional migrants for a period of time, including migrants through the Specialist Skills Pathway, and may be subject to other penalties under the Migration Act 1958.
  • The salary threshold will be calculated to ensure employers cannot artificially inflate a salary or rely on excessive overtime to meet the threshold.

The three-tiered system is planned as follows:

Tier 1 – Specialist Skills Pathway Tier 2 – Core Skills Pathway Tier 3 – Essential Skills Pathway
– No occupation list applicable, however trades workers, machine operators, drivers and labourers are excluded

– Requires guaranteed annual earnings of at least $135,000 which will be indexed annually

– Priority processing with a commitment to a 7-day median visa processing time

– A simpler and regularly updated Core Skills Occupation list managed by Jobs and Skills Australia

– Requires guaranteed annual earnings of at least $70,000 which will be indexed annually

– For occupations earning under $70,000 per year but working in essential skill occupations.

– Further assessment by the government is being undertaken on the best way to introduce this pathway

This pathway is likely to be sector-specific, with stronger regulatory framework, minimum standards and ongoing advice from Jobs and Skills Australia

Skilled in Demand Visa- Replacement of TSS 482 visa

As part of Australia’s new migration strategy, a new three tiered system of visa pathways (Skilled In Demand Visa) to replace the TSS SC 482.

  • The specialist skills visa pathway will not have an occupational list and a processing turnaround of 7 days.  Trades occupations, machinery operators, drivers and labourers will be excluded from this visa class. There will be 3,000 places allocated per year. The ‘specialist skills’ visa for those earning over $135,000 per year.
  • The core skills visas pathway are expected to provide the majority of visa for the program.  trades workers will be required to apply under this visa based on a revised ‘skills in demand list’ developed by Jobs and Skills Australia. The ‘core skills’ visa for the $70-135,000 cohort. Earnings to be at least TSMIT, currently set at $70,000, but to be indexed annually.
  • The details of the essential skills visa pathway are yet to be finally determined. This visa will involve union oversight, be capped and be restricted to specific sectors.  To date the aged care and disability sectors have been mentioned. The ‘essential skills’ visa is for those earning under $70,000

The visas will be granted for up to 4 years and visa holders will be able to change employers more easily and provide clear pathways to permanent residency.  The ‘TSMIT‘ will be indexed annually and a public register of employer sponsors to allow more ease with moving between employers.

Skilling Australians Fund

Consideration will be given to collecting the SAF in smaller increments over time in recognition of the greater freedom of visa holders to change employers.  A monthly or quarterly payment model will be explored.

Labour Market Testing

LMT is to be streamlined, although the only announcement so far is that the requirement to advertise on the Workforce Australia site will be abolished. The validity of advertising period will increase from 4 to 6 months.

LMT will be gradually phased out as Jobs and Skills Australia data on skills shortages improves and a Core Skilled Occupation List created as an alternative to LMT.

Key elements of the Skills in Demand visa include:
  • Time spent with any approved employer will count towards permanent residence requirements
  • Skills in Demand visa holders will have access to self-nominated independent permanent pathways, in addition to employer-sponsored pathways
  • The visa will provide for a 4-year stay for all streams
  • median processing time of 21 days
  • Skills in Demand Visa holders will have the ability to move between sponsors with an 180 day time period to find a new sponsor
  • Streamlined labour market testing (LMT) requirements will be introduced. The requirement to advertise on Workforce Australia has already been removed

Book a meeting for a commitment free briefing with our Registered Migration Agents in Melbourne to find more about your visa options.