Migration programme figures have been announced by the Minister for Immigration, Scott Morrison for the 2014-2015 financial year.

Of the 190 000 places available, 128 550 will be available in the skilled migration programme, including general skilled migration and employer sponsored visas.  60885 visas will be available in the family migration programme which includes an increase in the allocation for Partner visas, Child visas and Contributory Parent visas.

Minister Morrison has indicated that employer sponsored visas will be  a priority however without disadvantaging Australian workers:

“With the reprioritisation towards employer-sponsored visas, employers will be assisted in finding workers to fill vital positions where they have been unable to find local workers,’’

As at 31 March 2014, there were 111 780 workers on 457 visas in Australia, an increase of almost six per cent on the same period last year.

In 2013, labour market testing was introduced into the migration legislation in relation to 457 nominations in a range of occupations. The Minister’s comments today indicate that labour market testing will remain, at least for the present.

Labour market testing is also a requirement for the Regional Sponsored Migration Programme which  allows employers to nominate overseas workers to fill positions within their regional based businesses with certain concessions. Those concessions include not needing to meet the training criteria otherwise required for the 457 and ENS categories. Further, there is no minimum salary threshold to be met in the RSMS; rather, an appropriate market salary rate needs to be paid to nominees.

In today’s statement, Minister Scott Morrison indicated that regional employment needs will also be supported through the skilled migration programme.

Overall, the new programme appears to be supportive of employers unable to meet skills needs in their businesses from the domestic labour market and, where that is the case, to facilitating the entry of international workers.

Legislative changes – including price hikes – usually occur from 1 July each year. Employers may wish to consider their options and eligibility now and take advantage of ‘the devil you know’.