Tech jobs reinstated for skilled Australian visas

After consultation with industry, the Australian federal government has reversed some of the changes it made to the temporary skilled migration scheme in April.

The Australian federal government has reinstated a number of technology-related titles in the list of occupations eligible for a range of temporary and permanent skilled visas.

The roles that were reintroduced include data and telecommunications cable joiner, engineering technician, ICT support and test engineer, ICT support technician, web developer, and telecommunications technician.

The government's decision to abolish the former 457 skilled visa scheme in favour of a new program with drastically-reduced eligible occupations -- including ICT roles -- was met with criticism from industry groups that claimed the scheme would discourage talent from coming to work in Australia.

Following consultation with industry, the list of eligible occupations has been updated, and will continue to be updated on a six-monthly basis, allowing the government to respond to shifts in the market.

Titles that qualify for a short-term, two-year skilled visa include ICT account manager, ICT business development manager, ICT customer support officer, ICT manager, ICT QA engineer, ICT project manager, ICT sales representative, ICT support engineer, ICT systems test engineer, ICT support technician systems administrator, ICT trainer, network administrator, network analyst, software tester, telecommunications linesworker, data and telecommunications cabler, database administrator, hardware technician, web administrator, web developer, and web designer.

All ICT visa applicants are required to have a minimum of two years work experience, except for ICT project managers, ICT sales representatives, ICT support engineers, ICT systems test engineers, software testers, and web developers.

Occupations that are newly eligible for a medium-term, four-year visa include computer network and systems engineer, developer/programmer, ICT business analyst, software engineer, software and application programmer, systems analyst, telecommunications engineer, telecommunications field engineer, and telecommunications network engineer.

"Skills highly in demand in advanced manufacturing, construction and mining as well as in ICT and the pharmaceutical industry are well represented in the occupations returned to the available skills lists and this is most welcome," Australian Industry Group CEO Innes Willox said in a statement.

Executive titles such as CEO, CIO, managing director, and corporate general manager have also been reshuffled from the short-term, two-year visa class to the medium-term, four-year visa class with a pathway to permanent residency.

ICT security specialist has similarly been moved back to the medium-term visa list after its impact on the domestic security skills shortage was brought to the government's attention.

Among the 12 occupations that were removed under the new program are fleet manager, real estate agent, property manager, psychotherapist, and university tutor.

"The government recognises the importance of enabling Australian businesses to tap into global talent to remain internationally competitive and support a strong national science and innovation agenda," Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton said in a statement.

"The occupation lists are designed to be dynamic. Revisions to the occupation lists are just one element of the government's reforms strengthening the integrity of Australia's employer sponsored skilled migration programmes and raising the productivity of skilled migrants."

All visa applicants are now required to undergo mandatory criminal checks as part of their application.

The exemption to English language testing for subclass 457 visa applicants whose annual salary is over AU$96,400 has been removed, with the exception of employees transferring between a foreign parent company to an Australian arm of the company.

The updates came into effect on July 1.

The new Temporary Skill Shortage visa that will replace the 457 visa will be introduced in March 2018.