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What can we expect from Australia’s new Skills in Demand visa?

By 11 December, 2023May 16th, 20246 Comments5 min read

Skills in Demand visa

On 11 December 2023, the Australian government released its much anticipated and comprehensive Migration Strategy, with a policy roadmap containing 8 key actions and over 25 new policy commitments and areas for future reform. One of the most significant key actions is the creation of a new Skills in Demand visa, with three targeted pathways.

What are the pathways?

The Government is expected to introduce a new 4-year temporary skilled worker visa with various modes to target varying immigration requirements. The three modes, or pathways, are expected to include:

Specialist Skills Pathway

The first pathway is the Specialist Skills Pathway, which is slated to include a new streamlined approach for highly skilled specialists to ensure Australia can quickly and easily recruit top talent in areas of need. The Specialist Skills Pathway is expected to be available to applicants who meet the general employer sponsored eligibility criteria (for example, be nominated by an approved employer, meet the health and character requirements) and are:

  1. in any occupation except trades workers, machinery operators and drivers, and labourers;
  2. and earning at least $135,000 (the Specialist Skills Threshold) and no less than Australian workers in the same occupation.

Core Skills Pathway

The second pathway is the Core Skills Pathway. Most temporary skilled migrants are expected to come through this pathway, which is designed to bring in the skilled employees Australia needs now and in the future. In short, this is expected to be a continuation of the current TSS visa program. The Core Skills Pathway is expected to be available to applicants who meet the general eligibility criteria and:

  1. whose occupation is on a new Core Skills Occupation List, which relates to occupations identified by Jobs and Skills Australia as being in shortage or where Australia has committed to providing access to our labour market in relation to that occupation through international trade agreements; and
  2. who will be paid a salary at or above the TSMIT (to be retitled the Core Skills Threshold, when the new system is implemented), or the relevant average market salary where it is above the TSMIT.

Unlike the Specialist Skills Pathway, trades workers, machinery operators and drivers, and labourers will be eligible under the Core Skills Pathway subject to being identified on the Core Skills Occupation List based on advice from Jobs and Skills Australia, and being paid above the TSMIT (including for roles paid above the Specialist Skills Threshold).

Essential Skills Pathway

The third expected pathway is an Essential Skills Pathway, which will be a highly regulated pathway for lower paid workers with essential skills. The Government is primarily considering the pathway in the context of the care and support economys. These arrangements would are expected to be sector specific, capped, embedded with stronger regulation and minimum standards.

What other features are to be expected

In addition to that outlined above, the Department expect to be implementing the following features:

  1. Guaranteed pathways to permanent residence – periods of employment with any approved employer will count towards PR requirements;
  2. 180 days (6 months) to find another sponsor (if employment relationship ceases), including the ability to work during this period;
  3. Trailing employer fees (employers paying fees on a monthly or quarterly basis yet to be determined) to make the process of hiring a new migrant less financial onerous;
  4. Streamlined visa applications – a set service standard for visa processing to enable employers to fill a vacancy quickly (21 days for Skills in Demand visas, and 7 days specifically for those under the Specialist Skills pathway);
  5. Public register of sponsors – to also include the number of migrants sponsored (and occupations) to assist migrants seeking to find a new sponsor;
  6. Indexation of minimum salaries – this would be an indexation of the Core Skills and Specialist Skills Thresholds;
  7. Streamline labour market testing – the government will consider moving away from LMT requirements towards a more robust/genuine independent verification of labour market need;
  8. Modernising Accredited Sponsor pathways – open up the accredited sponsor program to start-ups who have received venture capital funding from a registered VC fund; and
  9. Strengthening integrity – various legislative reforms to punish unscrupulous employers, and protect workers against exploitation.

When can we expect this visa?

The current implementation date for this new visa is late 2024.

Do you have further questions?

While these timelines and changes are subject to regulatory and legislative changes, this represents a once in a decade update to Australia’s migration program. If you have further queries about the above, or have any other immigration related queries, get in touch with our experienced team. Contact us by email at [email protected] or by phone at +61 3 9016 0484.

This document does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Please consult an immigration professional for up to date information.
Mihan Hannan

Author Mihan Hannan

Formerly a Senior Associate in one of Australia’s most reputable immigration litigation and review practices, Mihan is solutions focused and well versed in all aspects of Australian immigration law. Mihan also has a subscription addiction, being obsessed with tools to improve the firms immigration work flow.

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Join the discussion 6 Comments

  • Milan says:

    Can we apply individual or has to be sponsor by companies?

    • admin says:

      Hi Milan,
      The Skills in Demand visa is a company sponsored visa, but the points test for the general skilled (independent) visas is also expected to be updated.
      Kind regards,
      Hannan Tew

  • Dave says:

    Hi guys, I work as a scaffolder In Sydney. Do you think I would qualify for the new core skills category?

    • admin says:

      Hi Dave,
      As it stands, scaffolder’s aren’t directly in the “in demand” occupation lists and unfortunately we don’t yet have information on the expected occupations for the proposed new visa. Feel free to sign up to our newsletter ( to get updates as we learn more.
      Kind regards,
      Hannan Tew

  • Shibly says:

    Hello, I am currently residing in the country on a dependent visa, linked to a master’s student. I am employed as a Software Engineer, and my salary meets the Specialist Skilled Threshold. I would like to inquire if I am eligible to apply for Permanent Residency (PR) through the Specialist Skills Pathway based on my current circumstances.

    • admin says:

      Hi Shibly,
      This new visa is expected to be launched in late 2024, so we won’t be able to consider eligibility in detail until then.
      The current eligibility requirements disclosed by the government should be seen as guidelines.
      Kind regards,
      Hannan Tew

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