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Reforms to Australia’s visa system are on the way

Skilled migration is under the microscope with a plan to simplify Australia’s visa system announced in July. The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton, unveiled the proposed changes claiming that Australia’s visa system was outdated and needed to better reflect the country’s long-term economic and social priorities.

The changes flagged by the Government include:

  • Consolidating the number of visas available, currently 99, to around 10 categories including abolishing the 457 visa
  • Limiting training and skills transfer programs for companies operating in Australia and overseas
  • Restricting senior managers earning over $180,000 per year to the age of 45
  • Making pathways to Permanent Residency and Citizenship more difficult for skilled migrants and their families

Potential for unintended consequences

While the moves to streamline the laborious visa application process are welcome, there is potential for unintended consequences that will adversely affect employers and specialist skill levels in the Australian community. Some business groups have raised concerns about the impact of the changes on Australia’s international competitiveness and our ability to attract international management talent.

Australian Government considering submissions for amendments

Many business groups have lodged submissions encouraging the Australian Government to review the visa changes with respect to the impact on international investment and innovation.

As an advisor to overseas companies in Australia for many years, it is clear that many foreign organisations here contribute directly to Australia’s national interests through the exchange of knowledge, IP, technology and transfer of talent between Australia and their respective countries. Australia’s ongoing attractiveness as a destination for the world’s best and brightest migrants, visitors and students underscores our ability to be globally competitive.

I am privileged to be a member of the German-Australian Chamber of Industry and Commerce Policy Advisory Committee, which has lodged its own submission to encourage international staff movements that contribute to the competitiveness of Australian operations and businesses. Our submission will play a part in modernising Australia’s visa framework in a way that will enhance our competitiveness and prosperity.

Please contact me if you would like tax & accounting assistance for relocating your staff to Australia.

By Steven Zabeti, Accru Felsers