Skilled Migrants Granted Priority Status and Exemption from Australia’s COVID Ban

Guest post by Krishneel Ram, Robert Walters Immigration Services

With a focus on quickly rebounding from the economic effects of COVID-19 whilst balancing the needs of the Australian Labour Market the Department of Home Affairs announced a new Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (‘PMSOL’) designed to allow skilled overseas workers in identified priority occupations to be exempt from Australia’s travel ban. Coinciding with the list are further changes to the Labour market testing regime for sponsored workers.  

The Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List was developed through consultation by the National Skills Commission and Commonwealth departments to identify 17 occupations that prioritise the skill sets and sectors that will most support Australia’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Occupations on the PMSOL include:

General PractitionerRegistered Nurse (Aged Care)Chief Executive or Managing Director
Resident Medical OfficerRegistered Nurse (Critical Care and Emergency)Construction Project Manager
PsychiatristRegistered nurse (Medical)Mechanical Engineer
MidwifeRegistered Nurse (Mental health)Developer Programmer
Medical Practitioners (Not elsewhere classified)Registered Nurse (Perioperative)Software Engineer
Registered Nurse (Not elsewhere classified)Maintenance Planner

Effect of the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List

Skilled workers will be afforded priority processing of their applications in order to facilitate their visa approval and immediate travel to Australia. Visa applicants will be eligible based on their nomination within the above occupations alone and no further substantiation of their eligibility is required. Visa holders will still be subject to a 14-day quarantine on arrival in Australia.

Priority processing will be available for employer sponsored visa subclasses, including the following:

  • Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa (subclass 482)​
  • Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 494)
  • Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa (subclass 186)​
  • Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) visa (subclass 187)

The occupations predominantly focus on healthcare however they also include construction managers, CEO’s, engineering and technology professionals that are required to fill urgent skill requirements across Australia, to assist with the creation of local jobs and rebuilding of the economy from the COVID-19 recession.

Occupations not on the priority list  

There is an expectation the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List will be updated as the Government priorities further adapt to the changing post pandemic landscape. Expansion of the PMSOL is expected as the government further seeks to support Australia’s economic rebound with further announcements to coincide with the October budget announcements.

Applicants that are employed in occupations that are not identified on the PMSOL list, or are not applying within employer sponsored visa subclasses are still eligible to apply for travel exemptions and fast tracked processing by applying for a travel exemption through the critical skills or critical sector exemptions found here.

Update to Labour Market Testing Requirement

The Department has responded to the significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Australian labour market by implementing additional requirements to the labour market testing requirement for the subclass 482 Temporary Skills Shortage (‘TSS’) visa and subclass 494 Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa.

From the 30th September 2020 all nominations will be required to be accompanied by three job advertisements, one of which must be placed on the Australian Government Job site JobActive. Job advertisements will need to be placed for a minimum of 28 days and include:

  • name of the employer or recruiter placing the advertisement
  • title, or a description, of the position
  • skills or experience required
  • salary (if the annual earnings for the position will be less than $96,000 excl. super).

Exemptions to Labour Market Testing that apply to Intra-company transferees, high income earners or where the obligation would conflict with an International Trade Obligation will continue to apply. 

Exemption criteria, options for priority travel and Labour Market Testing requirements remain fluid. Due to frequent changes during Australia’s pandemic response it is important that you keep abreast of changes in policy and requirements as they apply to you.   

You can register for Robert Walters webinar about Priority Occupations, Travel Exemptions and Australian Immigration in the wake of COVID-19 here.

The Robert Walters Immigration Services team can assist both organisations and individuals with their immigration requirements and facilitate the employment of and sponsorship of overseas skilled workers. If you would like a confidential discussion regarding your circumstances please do not hesitate to contact Krishneel at Krishneel.Ram@robertwalters.com.au 

Legal Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is general in nature and whilst all care is taken, the information is subject to change without notice. This article is not intended to provide legal advice and the application and impact of laws can vary widely based on the specific facts involved.