Changes To Visa Processing After PMSOL Removal
In today’s blog update, we will discuss the removal of the outdated priority migration list by Australia’s Home Affairs Department to incorporate the country’s IT sector concerns.
To ease the challenges the IT sector is likely to face in the aftermath of closing the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL), the Department of Home Affairs has decided to bring in a new visa processing system. The decision is undertaken to compensate for the removal of tech and cybersecurity occupations from the PMSOL.
The PMSOL was established by the previous Coalition government, to advance the processing of high priority occupations through employer-sponsored visa programs. The main aim of the PMSOL was to counter the critical skills deficits caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and Australia’s closed-border policy.
On November 3, the public-facing PMSOL website listed 44 occupations in the fields of healthcare, engineering, resources, and social services. It also included several tech-focused occupations to reflect the shortage of available tech talent. The ICT security specialist and developer programmer positions were also on the list.
However, the Australian Financial Review printed the ministerial direction by Home Affairs and Cyber Security Minister Clare O’Neil to remove 27 occupations from the list, including several tech-focused job titles.
This decision has taken industry observers by surprise due to the significant shortages of personnel across the IT sector and the recent series of high-profile cyber attacks on Australian businesses.
According to a Department of Home Affairs spokesperson, to simplify processing directions and enable greater efficiency across the caseload, the outdated PMSOL was removed.
The spokesperson further elaborated that PMSOL and critical sectors practised in September 2020 were time-consuming and complex assessment processes. They were only needed under travel restrictions and have created a backlog of skilled visa applications.
The spokesperson added that incomplete applications under the PMSOL system will be processed efficiently, given the improvements in visa processing after the government has committed to extra funding and the addition of staff members to reduce processing times.
The web page of PMSOL was inaccessible as of November 3, returning a “401 UNAUTHORISED” error message.
The latest updates from the Department of Home Affairs indicate that the federal government is likely to move on from the PMSOL entirely.
The Department stated that it will prioritise the following visa applications, including a few skilled visas.
1- Applications related to a healthcare or teaching occupation.
2- Applications for employer-sponsored visas where the applicant is nominated by an Approved sponsor with Accredited Status.
3- Applications related to an occupation to be carried out in a designated regional area.
4- Applications for permanent and provisional visa subclasses that count towards the migration program, excluding the Subclass 188 (Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) visa.
5- All other visa applications.
This restructuring is announced amidst a broader expansion of the department’s visa processing abilities in response to an allocation of a $42.2 million budget by the federal government for 2022-23. The funds will be used to accelerate visa processing and advertise opportunities for highly-skilled migrants.
The department has also onboarded around two hundred and sixty new staff members in the visa processing teams compared to May levels. They will be assisting in completing over 43,000 temporary skilled and 47,000 permanent skilled visa applications from June this year.
The Labor has also increased its 2022-2023 skilled migration cap from 160,000 to 195,000 places.
The removal of tech-focused roles from the PMSOL has confused Australia’s IT sector earlier with prominent business figures pouring in with their opinions.
The managing director of Stax, a cloud management platform, expressed his surprise at the removal of Tech roles from the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List. He stated that the decision will affect the company’s hiring process and their requirements to fulfil the position for these roles. He calls the decision disappointing as it is likely to cause more trouble for start-ups and small businesses to attract, hire and retain great talent.
He further exclaimed that the decision is unfathomable in response to recent security breaches as the skill shortage will only cause the problem to worsen.
In a recent report published by the Australian Cyber Security Centre, cybercrimes have seen an increase of 13% compared to the prior year. About 76,000 incidents of cyber breaches have been reported with Optus and Medibank being afflicted with high-profile data breaches.
This means that on average, Australians are reporting one incidence of cybercrime every seven minutes over the last financial year.
The average cost of each cybercrime report for small businesses is about $39,000 which businesses can avoid only by up-skilling their staff as a consequence of PMSOL dismissal as per digital training experts.
The country director of SANS Institute, a cyber security training organisation, has described the amendments to PMSOL as a new challenge for Australian companies seeking critically important skills to safeguard their networks and customers. He suggested that organisations must look at developing the skills of their current employees through professional training programs to fill the security gaps a university education is unlikely to bridge.
The need for strengthening cybersecurity can be understood from the fact that the federal government granted 4,095 temporary skilled visas to IT professionals, out of which 119 were for the position of an ICT security specialist.
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