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Enhancements to visa system will improve access to skilled labour

"The expansion of the Department of Home Affairs' Accredited Sponsorship Scheme announced today will help streamline the visa application process for many more employers hiring skilled workers from overseas," Ai Group Chief Executive, Innes Willox, said today.

"Given the costs and complexities involved and benefits of hiring and training locally, seeking workers from overseas is never a first-choice option for employers. When they do need to access the visa program they often have an urgent business need and unnecessary barriers add to the costs of doing business and reduce the economic contribution the program delivers.

"To date, the Accreditation Scheme has been underutilised with employers often unaware of the benefits Accreditation can bring. It is therefore welcome that the Department will proactively seek greater employer participation.

"Another area which needs to be urgently addressed is the rapidly rising costs of skilled visas. The Skilling Australians Fund Levy, which employers must pay for each visa application levy, is as high as $7,200 for a business with a turnover of $10 million or more wishing to sponsor an employee on a 4-year subclass 482 visa in the medium-term stream. The visa application fee is also significant at $2,455 for a primary applicant for a medium-term stream subclass 482 visa.

"These costs are exorbitant, especially when it is taken into account that refunds are rare if visa applications fail. The costs are increasingly difficult for our members to absorb into their human resource budgets, particularly for smaller businesses," Mr Willox said.

Media enquiries: Tony Melville – 0419 190 347