The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact and shape Australia's migration program. The 2021-22 Australian Federal Budget sees the government continuing its efforts to strike a balance between addressing skill shortages and the needs of Australian business, and securing and protecting public health. The MinterEllison Migration team considers what the budget means for business and workforce planning.

What the 2021-22 Federal Budget means for your business

  • International border closure: Australia's international borders are expected to remain closed until mid-2022.
  • Global Talent visas: The budget affirmed the Government's focus on attracting the best and brightest migrants from around the world as well as targeting and facilitating the relocation of high-yield business to Australia.
  • Flexible visa arrangements: The Government has confirmed flexibility in respect of visa requirements and conditions for those already inside Australia working in the health, tourism, aged care, agricultural and hospitality sectors.
  • No increase to application fees announced: There is no increase to visa, nomination or the Skilling Australia Fund levy fees at this stage.

Workforce planning in 2021-22

As traditional visa programmes become more difficult to access due to border closures and extended visa processing times, it is important that businesses take a proactive approach to workforce planning. In 2021-22, businesses may wish to consider the Global Talent Visa Program or alternate visa options to address skill shortages and access the global labour market.

The Government has committed $550 million to attracting talent and business from overseas. They have established the Global Business & Talent Attraction Taskforce, which is designed to drive innovation and job creation by facilitating visa pathways for high calibre businesses and individuals in priority sectors relocating to Australia. The priority sectors are:

  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Health & Life Sciences
  • Financial Services
  • Enabling Sectors (including Culture, Tourism & Leisure, Education & Research and Infrastructure)
  • Enabling Technologies and Science (including Biosciences, Blockchain & Digital Ledger Technologies, Cybersciences, Quantum Technologies and Data Sciences

For highly skilled individuals, the Taskforce can facilitate the Global Talent Visa process.

For top tier businesses relocating to Australia, the Taskforce can assist with priority visas for key staff to travel to Australia for the establishment of the businesses. Key staff could be eligible for the Temporary Activity (subclass 408) visa for stays of up to 18 months.

Global Talent Visa Program

The Global Talent Visa Program is a streamlined permanent visa pathway for highly skilled professionals who hold desired future-focused skills to help grow technology and innovation sectors in Australia. This visa allows holders to live and work permanently in Australia.

The Global Talent Visa Program aims to target candidates with future-focused skills in the following industry sectors:

  • Resources
  • Agri-food and AgTech
  • Energy
  • Health Industries
  • Defence, Advanced Manufacturing and Space
  • Circular Economy
  • DigiTech
  • Infrastructure and Tourism
  • Financial Services and FinTech
  • Education

Employers are able to attract and retain highly skilled employees by offering a direct pathway to permanent residency. The Global Talent Visa Program offers streamlined and accelerated processing, meaning that your candidate will be able to start their position with you sooner.

Global Talent Employer Sponsored (GTES)

The GTES is a specific type of labour agreement designed to attract highly skilled migrants with cutting edge skills into niche occupations to help innovate established businesses and contribute to Australia’s developing start-up ecosystem.

The Established Business stream is for public companies or businesses with an annual turnover of more than $4million who can meet the criteria to be an accredited sponsor with Home Affairs. It allows employers to sponsor highly skilled applicants where the position will result in a skills transfer to Australian workers and the salary offered will be over the Fair Work High Income Threshold.

Labour Agreements

A Labour Agreement is a formal arrangement negotiated between an employer and the Australian Government to allow an employer to recruit skilled overseas workers where the standard visa program is not suitable.

Labour Agreements allow for flexibility in the occupation requirements, skill requirements, English requirements and salary requirements of the traditional visa program.

Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMA)

DAMA are a type of Labour Agreement where a specific region, state or territory in Australia has negotiated an agreement with the Australian Government to provide access to overseas workers in skill shortage occupations within that area.

Employers within that area can then negotiate a labour agreement within the settings of the head agreement for the region/state/territory. This provides flexibility for regions to respond to their unique economic and labour market conditions.