permanent residency in Australia
Will Australia introduce a clearer pathway to permanent residency in Australia? Source: William West/AFP

International students who are interested in seeking a permanent residency in Australia could be looking at brighter days ahead. A federal parliamentary committee on migration is discussing ways for skilled workers to get a clearer pathway to permanent residency in Australia.

The Joint Standing Committee on Migration outlined several recommendations on Monday (August 9) in its report into Australia’s skilled migration programme. Liberal MP Julian Leeser said Australia had lost over half a million temporary migrants since the country’s border closed last year.

“Many of those temporary migrants were skilled migrants. Net overseas migration continues to be in negative territory, with a further 77,000 people expected to leave Australia in the 2021-22 financial year,” he said. Industries face shortages of skilled migrants, impacting the viability of businesses. “Even despite lockdowns, today’s job ad figures are up 38% on pre-COVID rates,” he said.

The committee received evidence of significant skill shortages that emerged during the pandemic, Leeser added. It also saw proof of the importance of skilled migrants in creating more jobs for Australians, which was a driving factor behind the proposal. They recommend providing skilled migrants a clearer pathway to permanency but with conditions and length of time to permanency varying depending on skill level.

“We’ve recommended more incentives for migrants to move to regional Australia; encouragement for the brightest international students to remain to address persistent skill shortages; and streamlining processes and service improvements in the Department of Home Affairs,” he said.

permanent residency in Australia

Australia is losing out to countries with clearer pathways to permanent residency. Source: Greg Wood/AFP

Recommendations for a clearer pathway to permanent residency in Australia

The committee proposed changing post-study work arrangements for international students who meet certain criteria, including graduates in the top 10% in their course and meet relevant English language standards.

“Such graduates would be eligible for a discount on the work experience component for permanent residency under the employer nominated scheme from three years to two years. For graduates applying for a points-based visa, additional points could be awarded for those graduates meeting the above criteria,” the committee recommended. “The government should also consider longer temporary graduate visas of three years to provide time and flexibility for graduates to find work.”

The committee also recommends that the Department of Home Affairs should change the visa conditions for the short-term stream of the Temporary Skills Shortage visa (subclass 482) to provide a pathway to permanent residency for temporary migrants.

“All employer nominated visas should provide the option of a pathway to permanency. The length of time to permanency and the conditions involved may vary from visa to visa with, for instance, applicants in lower-skilled occupations taking longer to reach permanency than more highly-skilled visa holders.”

Conditions for permanency should continue to include competent English language ability and applicants should be under the age of 45.

Universities Australia — a peak body for the sector — has welcomed the committee’s final report into Australia’s skilled migration programme. In a media release, its chief executive Catriona Jackson said: “We support the aim of simplifying the system, boosting incentives for the best and brightest to stay in Australia, as well as exempting universities from the Skilling Australia Fund Levy.”

“We are particularly pleased to see extra incentives for very high-quality students to remain here,” she added. “These are exactly the kind of highly-skilled, bright students who will make a big contribution to Australian life and productivity.”