The Australian Department of Home Affairs has made changes to the way it processes skilled visa applications. The Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL), which was used to rank skilled visa applications, has been discontinued due to the list being seen as outdated and not reflective of the current workforce shortages across the country. The PMSOL was introduced in 2020 and was used to fast-track visas for 44 different occupations, including healthcare workers such as nurses and doctors, but not teachers.
The new Ministerial Direction No. 100 prioritizes visa applications for those working in the healthcare and education sectors, with applications for these occupations being processed within just three days. This change applies to all skilled visa nominations and applications that are yet to be decided, as well as new applications for temporary, employer-sponsored, and regional visas.
Under the new order of priority, healthcare or teaching occupation applications are at the top of the list, followed by employer-sponsored visas for applicants nominated by an approved sponsor with accredited status. Priority will also be given to applicants located outside of Australia. The new criteria apply to various skilled visa subclasses, including the Subclass 124 (Distinguished Talent), Subclass 186 (Employer Nomination Scheme), and Subclass 187 (Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme), among others.
According to the Department of Home Affairs, the removal of the PMSOL will allow more applications to be processed faster, particularly for the critical Temporary Skill Shortage visa. A spokesperson for the department stated that the PMSOL was a “time-consuming and complex assessment” that was only necessary because of the backlog of applications during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Former Department of Immigration Secretary, Abul Rizvi, agrees that the changes will make processing quicker and more effective as they now target a wider range of occupations. He also supports the focus on teachers and healthcare workers, stating that the government would likely grant visas to these workers as quickly as they apply.
The federal government is expected to conduct a comprehensive review of Australia’s migration system, with three experts delivering an interim report by the end of February and a final strategy by late March/April. Martin Parkinson, one of the experts conducting the review, has acknowledged that there could be benefits from streamlining the assessment process for visas.
In conclusion, the changes made by the Department of Home Affairs have made the process of obtaining a skilled visa in Australia faster and more efficient, especially for those working in the healthcare and education sectors. The removal of the PMSOL will allow for more applications to be processed in a shorter amount of time, which could help address the current workforce shortages across the country.
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