South Africans wanting to emigrate to Australia may find there are more skilled job opportunities, especially in Western Australia, but they will also face long waits for a visa as the current skilled labour shortage there is being exacerbated by a severe backlog in visa processing.
Australia faces a possible gridlock in its visa system as federal officials deal with an extraordinary backlog in visa applications for thousands of skilled workers. Many employers are claiming they will have to shut down their businesses if they cannot find a solution to the chronic labour shortages.
Official figures show that the number of skilled foreign workers leaving Australia is exceeding the number coming into the country, highlighting the pressure on the labour market.
“The skills shortage is most evident in Western Australia, where the visa programme has recently changed, enabling new applications from people residing overseas and an expansion of occupations available under the Graduate stream,” said Sam Hopwood, migration agent and director of the Australia and Oceania region of Sable International.
Commencing in the 2022-23 programme year, people residing overseas are now eligible to be considered for Western Australia (WA) State nomination. Invitations to apply for WA State nomination will be via the ranking system, still giving preference to applicants currently residing in WA, then to those residing in Australia, and then considering those residing overseas.
“South Africans wanting to emigrate to Australia can now access an expanded, more extensive, graduate occupation list under the Graduate stream, with over 300 occupations becoming available,” said Hopwood.
He added that the new occupations list for Western Australia is extremely diverse, and includes:
- Ambulance drivers
- Community arts workers
- Environmental research scientists
- ICT support engineers
- Pig farmers
- Recruitment consultants.
Hopwood added that there is broad demand for people with medical, engineering and IT skills.
Expect to wait
Hopwood said that there is a long wait for visas, but it is important to start the process as soon as possible.
“Most applicants will spend months preparing for a visa application, doing English language tests, skills assessments, applying for unabridged birth certificates, so that they can then submit an Expression of Interest (EOI), then an application for state nomination and finally a visa application.
“In fact, 90% of the work is done prior to visa submission. Given the many steps that an applicant needs to undertake before a visa can be submitted, the sooner the better, is always my advice.”
The Australian government operates its visas on a points-based system where points are awarded to applicants based on age, qualifications, experience and English language skills. There are three main categories for skilled visas, namely the Skilled Independent visa, the Skilled Nominated visa, and the Skilled Regional visa.
“The various state governments assess their own labour market needs and form lists of occupations in demand. In all instances, an applicant must be under 45 years of age, and score at least 65 points on the immigration skills points test and have an occupation that is on the relevant Skilled Occupation List,” Hopwood said.