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‘Visas in three days’ for teachers and nurses who want to come to Australia

Skilled visa applications for teachers and healthcare workers are now being assessed in just three days after a change to how skilled visas are prioritised.

The Department of Home Affairs has stopped using the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL) to rank skilled visa applications as it was seen as outdated and no longer reflected the critical workforce shortages seen across Australia.

The list, which was introduced in September 2020, previously identified 44 occupations on the wider Skilled Migration Occupation List (SMOL) to fast-track amid the COVID-19 pandemic recovery. Its use was discontinued from 28 October this year.

The list included occupations such as engineers, chefs, accountants, psychiatrists, programmers and pharmacists. It also included healthcare workers such as nurses and doctors, but not teachers.

The Department of Home Affairs says the new Ministerial Direction No. 100which directs department staff to perform certain actions, now prioritises visas in the health and education sectors.

The change applies to all skilled visa nomination and visa applications that are yet to be decided, as well as new applications lodged including temporary, employer-sponsored and regional visas. The full list is below.

It also removes priority for the global talent and business innovation and investment programs.

Occupations now being prioritised include school teachers, health and welfare support workers, childcare centre managers, medical scientists, counsellors, psychologists, social workers and medical technicians.

New order of priority for skilled visa applications

Under the new ministerial direction, skilled visa applications are now being decided in the following order of priority:

1. Healthcare or teaching occupation applications;

2. For employer-sponsored visas, applicants nominated by an Approved sponsor with Accredited Status;

3. Those for a designated regional area;

4. For permanent and provisional visa subclasses, visa applications that count towards the migration program, excluding the Subclass 188 (Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional)) visa;

5. All other visa applications.

For all categories above, priority will be given to holders of eligible passports as not all visa streams are open to every nationality.

Within each category, priority is given to applicants located outside Australia for provisional and permanent skilled visa applications.

The new criteria applies to these skilled visas:

  • Subclass 124 (Distinguished Talent)
  • Subclass 186 (Employer Nomination Scheme)
  • Subclass 187 (Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme)
  • Subclass 188 (Business Innovation and Investment) (Provisional)
  • Subclass 189 (Skilled – Independent)
  • Subclass 190 (Skilled – Nominated)
  • Subclass 191 (Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional))
  • Subclass 457 (Temporary Work (Skilled))
  • Subclass 482 (Temporary Skill Shortage)
  • Subclass 489 (Skilled – Regional (Provisional))
  • Subclass 491 (Skilled Work Regional (Provisional))
  • Subclass 494 (Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional))
  • Subclass 858 (Global Talent)
  • Subclass 887 (Skilled – Regional)
  • Subclass 888 (Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent).

Visa applications now being processed faster

A spokesperson for the Department of Home Affairs said the previous PMSOL system was a “time-consuming and complex assessment” that was only necessary because of the backlog of applications that had built up while travel restrictions to Australia were in place during the pandemic.

“Removal of the PMSOL will allow more applications to be processed faster, particularly for the critical Temporary Skill Shortage visa, which is designed to respond rapidly to labour market needs,” the spokesperson said.  

Former Department of Immigration secretary Abul Rizvi agreed the changes would make processing quicker “because they’re now targeting a much wider range of occupations”.

“There’s no point in having a priority list when you’re targeting just about every occupation,” he said.

Mr Rizvi also backed the focus on teachers and healthcare workers saying he thought the government would struggle to get enough applications regardless.

“They will probably be granting visas to teachers and nurses as quickly as they apply.”

More changes are likely, with the federal government promising to further assess the effectiveness of skilled migration occupation lists. The last update to the current Skilled Migration Occupation List was made on 11 March 2019.

The government has also announced a comprehensive review of Australia’s migration with three experts expected to deliver an interim report by the end of February, and a final strategy by late March/April.


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