Immigration Minister Andrew Giles is addressing the backlog of visas putting to work hundreds of additional public service staff and funding the process with $36 million in an effort to process applications from businesses who are desperate for workers.
The announcement was made by Minister Giles last week at the Federal Jobs and Skills Summit. Five hundred additional staff will be employed over the next nine months to process the backlog of active non-humanitarian visa applications that sit at more than 900,000. This problem was inherited from the previous Morrison Government.
One thing that was not made clear was how the government would find 500 additional staff during a national worker shortage. This increase in staff is on top of the 180 public servants employed recently to process visas.
The median time taken to process a temporary skilled visa has fallen to 42 days from 53 days in May. The median time taken to approve new businesses for sponsorship has halved to 18 days and students are now waiting an average of 31 days for a visa, down from 41 in May.
Of the outstanding visa applications there were almost 600,000 temporary visas, around 150,000 skilled visa applicants and 232,000 family visas.
An in-depth review of the Australian migration system is to be led by Professor Brian Schmidt Vice Chancellor of the Australian National University however, the government will not wait until the review is complete before making what are considered necessary changes to the migration program to get it moving.
Migration numbers have already been increased to 195,000 in total up 35,000.
Other immediate areas that may see change include a proposal for international graduates of Australian university to be able to work longer in Australia post-graduation and extending the COVID concessions on student visa holder work rights until 2023.
Further action is also expected in these areas:
· Moving away from temporary migration to permanency and citizenship, by developing these pathways.
· Reassessing the occupation lists to ensure they are fit for purpose
· Raising Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT)
· Addressing worker exploitation (2023 priority)
· Examining industry sponsorship
· Addressing regional labour shortages.