With a mandate to begin forming the new Federal Government of Australia, re-elected Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, will be able to resume his implementation of the ‘Ideas Boom’ – ie the ‘National Innovation and Science Agenda’ which supports changes to the visa system to attract overseas talent and investment to Australia.
However corporate immigration policies were seemingly absent from the 2016 election campaign focus of both major Australian parties. We are therefore yet to see how the newly formed Government will impact on corporate immigration, potentially affecting Australian businesses sponsoring overseas employees as well as international companies required to send employees to Australia.
The main visas to monitor at this stage are:
- Temporary Work (Skilled) (subclass 457) visas;
- The Short-Term Mobility visas; and
- The Entrepreneur visas.
Subclass 457 Visas
The subclass 457 visa remains the most common means of Australian employers sponsoring overseas workers. It is by no means a simple process and involves employers and visa applicants meeting rigorous requirements, from training expenditure to salary thresholds, English language requirements and labour market testing.
Australia’s premier foreign policy think tank, the Lowy Institute, conducts an annual opinion poll of Australian attitudes to key issues. In relation to the economy, the report from June this year states that opinions are as follows:
“Optimism about the Australian economy has lifted, with 70% of Australians now ‘very optimistic’ or ‘optimistic’ about ‘Australia’s economic performance in the world over the next five years’, up seven points since 2015.”
Positive public opinion regarding the economy generally assists in paving the way for a more generous corporate immigration policy to enable Australian businesses (especially in the technology and innovation industries) to retain and attract overseas employees where they are unable to find local labour. Therefore, the Turnbull Government is unlikely to introduce drastic restrictive reforms to the subclass 457 visa.
Short-Term Mobility Visas
The proposal for a new Short-Term Work visa enabling businesses to bring in specialist workers for up to a year seems to have been abandoned by the Turnbull Government.
This visa would have filled a gap in the immigration program where a business requires specialist services for greater than the three month period usually provided by the Temporary Work (Short Stay Activity) (subclass 400) visa, and wishing to bypass the red tape involved in applying for a subclass 457 visa, which can be granted for up to four years.
Therefore, businesses requiring services from overseas employees will generally need to continue to apply for the subclass 400 or subclass 457 visa, depending on the nature of the position and relocation requirements.
We are yet to see whether the newly formed Government will implement the new Entrepreneur visa, which was announced in December last year.
Discussion regarding access to Australian visas by entrepreneurs was intended by the Turnbull Government to encourage highly skilled workers to travel to Australia. Also proposed was strengthening the permanent residence pathways for certain postgraduate research students.
The new Entrepreneur visa was intended to be introduced in November 2016 and the permanent residence pathways for postgraduate research students was to come into effect in December 2016. It is now a case of ‘wait and see’ whether these reforms will be implemented by the new Turnbull government.
Future Corporate Immigration Policies
If the re-elected Prime Minister succeeds in implementing the ‘Ideas Boom’, it will be crucial for Australian businesses to be able to attract and retain the necessary talent and skills from overseas.
It would not further the objectives of the National Innovation and Science Agenda to restrict the subclass 457 visa program, especially in light of the implications for business now that the Short-Term Mobility visa has been abandoned.
If the Turnbull Government continues with its plan to introduce an Entrepreneur visa towards the end of this year, this may assist business in attracting overseas talent through a new Australian visa pathway.
For advice regarding Australian visas, please do not hesitate to contact us at email@example.com for Australian immigration assistance.
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