Immigration review to call for changes to Australia’s skilled occupation lists and slashing of visa categories


It warns reforms to aid the care sector are badly needed, with an explicit policy focusing on lower paid workers needed.

The review, handed to the government earlier this month, is set to spark a major slashing of complex visa subcategories and an overhaul of antiquated technology systems used by the Department of Home Affairs.

The review says skilled occupation lists “do not reflect current or anticipated skilled labour needs”, including the transition to a net-zero economy and building of critical and sovereign capabilities.

“There is growing international competition for highly skilled migrants
and Australia risks falling behind without more innovative and
attractive visa products and service delivery,” it found.

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil will outline the government’s response in an address to the National Press Club on Thursday.

Sections of the review are critical of the points test used to select skilled migrants without an existing job offer, and the potential of overseas university students coming to Australia to learn is being wasted.

The review warns against a culture of immigrants coming to Australia on a “permanently temporary” basis, a phenomenon which has caused harm to the country, to migrants and “undermined community confidence in the migration system”.

It says student and temporary graduate visa settings “inhibit students’ opportunity and ability” to succeed in the Australian labour force, as too many graduates are employed below their skill level.

The review recommends giving more migrants certainty about permanent residency as soon as possible, along with faster identification of those with the greatest potential for success here.

Annual migration planning processes are criticised for lacking a comprehensive long-term perspective, making it harder to plan for housing, infrastructure, and the supply of goods and essential services.

While government has closely managed the permanent skilled migration program – which has a ceiling of 195,000 places in 2023 – the review says the temporary migrant cohort has been demand-driven and doubled in size since 2007. It now stands at some 1.8 million people.

In damning criticism, the report says some families wait for parent visas that never come, finding some migrants can wait for as long as 40 years for their parents to settle with them in Australia on a permanent basis.

Migrants are identified as strong contributors to the Australian economy and labour force, but many have unrealised potential. The report says restrictions on some government services through a waiting period for newly arrived migrants has progressively grown, despite its impact on outcomes and Australia’s attractiveness being described as “unclear”.

“Skills recognition is complicated, expensive and lengthy,” the review says. “Different requirements imposed by the migration system, and in states and territories regulating occupations, create barriers for migrants. These requirements have adverse impacts on migrants and are further evidence Australia fails to use all the capabilities available in our community.”

Ms O’Neil has described the immigration system as “fundamentally broken” and the Albanese government sought to use its jobs and skills summit as the start of a major reset.


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