09 May 2012
Snapshot of planning levels for 2012-13
In a media release following the Budget announcements, Minister for Immigration & Citizenship Chris Bowen asserted that the planned migration program for 2012-13 would 'provide support to the growth regions and sectors of Australia's economy struggling to meet acute skills shortages'.
As a result, the 2012-13 migration program will receive a boost of 5,000 places to raise the overall program to 190, 000 places, comprised of:
- 129,250 skilled stream places
- 60,185 family stream places
- 565 special eligibility places
Click here to read the Minister's press release.
A continued focus on regional migration
Regional Migration will remain a focus with the Minister announcing the following plans to "continue to build and strengthen ... strong regional migration arrangements":
- applicants for permanent regional migration visas continue to receive the highest level of processing priority
- the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) is expected to deliver 16,000 skilled migrants to regional areas in 2012-13; and
- the Government will deliver a streamlined RSMS, "which will enable existing temporary regional skilled workers to transition more easily to permanent residence with an employer sponsored skilled position".
Additional funding for permanent employer sponsored visas
An addition $1.3 million will be provided over the next two years to improve the Permanent Employer Sponsored Program. This follows the 2011-12 Budget announcement of measures to streamline and simplify the pathway to permanent residency for Temporary Business (Long Stay) (Subclass 457) visa holders.
Employer Sanctions Reforms
As foreshadowed by Minister Bowen following the release of the Howells Review in July 2011, reforms to the employer sanctions legislation will be introduced in 2012 which is estimated to generate revenue of 1.7 million over three years
These reforms will introduce graduated tiers of employer sanctions, including for employers that refer for work or hire a non-citizen who does not have work rights, or undertake actions that would cause a person to breach their visa conditions.
These revised sanctions will range from warning and infringement notices with financial penalties to civil penalties and criminal prosecution for the most serious breaches.
Click here to read the Minister's press release following the Howells review.
Additional charges for 'optional services' - visa evidencing and paper lodgements
From 1 July 2012, DIAC will introduce a charge of $60 to evidence visa labels (which will increase to $70 in 2013). Similarly, an additional charge of $60 will apply to paper lodgement of particular visa applications where electronic lodgement is available (to be increased to $80 in 2013).
These additional charges form part of DIAC's Visa Pricing Transformation as announced in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) and are predicted to provide an estimated revenue gain of $67 million over the next four years.
Click here to read the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook.
Reforms to visa health criteria - 'significant cost'
Following recommendations of the report of the Joint Standing Committee on Migration on the Migration Treatment of Disability, the visa health criteria will be reformed as from 1 July 2012at a cost of $4.6 million over four years.
Under current arrangements, visa applicants will fail the health criteria where the estimated costs of treating a health condition are above the Significant Cost Threshold set at $21,000.
The 1 July 2012 reform will increase the Significant Cost Threshold from $21,000 to $35,000 to better reflect current health costs, and remove the requirement for offshore Humanitaritan Visa applicants to meet the Significant Cost Threshold criteria.
Virtual English tuition for new migrants
$5.0 million will be provided over the next three years to pilot virtual English tuition via the National Broadband Network. The aim of the service is to support new migrants living in Regional Australia with a distance learning package that complements the Adult Migrant English Program.
Summary of training initiatives
- $1.75 billion National Partnership Agreement on Skills Reform as agreed at the Council of Australian Governments in April 2012
- Recently qualified tradespeople who want to set up their own business will be eligible for up to $5,000 in business skills training.
- An additional $225.1 million in Jobs, Education and Training Child Care Fee Assistance
- An additional $101 million of new skills measures to improve quality and better support mature age workers