A visa to fill Australia's empty tech jobs is getting more expensive, but maybe better value

Application process gets a massive overhaul

For decades, Australia has failed to train enough IT pros to satisfy local employers' needs. The nation's solution to the shortfall has involved issuing visas to skilled workers from offshore, under a process that's about to change in March.

Scoring a visa to work in Australia is not simple – by design. Applicants must convince an "assessing authority" that they have the educational achievements, and the skills, Australia desires. Just one organization – the Australian Computer Society (ACS) – is certified as an assessing authority for incoming techies.

At the time of writing the ACS requires visa applicants to fill in a PDF – a process the org's chief growth officer Siobhan O'Sullivan told The Register resulted in 80 percent of applications arriving in an unfit state to be assessed. Often this is because they omit important info or documents, or are otherwise incomplete. The complexity of the form – especially for those for whom English is not their first language – is a big part of the reason for many of the incomplete forms.

More than half of applicants submit two forms, because another requirement to score a visa is to demonstrate that skills match the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO). More than 20 such ANZSCO codes apply to tech jobs. Applicants therefore submit multiple applications in the hope their skills match at least one ANZSCO code.

The ACS thus finds itself with "thousands" of unprocessed applications, and processing times of between 10 and 14 weeks.

O'Sullivan felt that the application process should offer an experience to match that offered by consumer-facing apps like food delivery services.

ACS has therefore created an interactive web form to capture applicants' info, and is set to introduce it next month.

The new system has two big changes.

One is that identity documents will no longer be stored by ACS. Instead they'll be sent to a third party that verifies identity. ACS will access assessments using an API instead of having to store and secure very sensitive personal information.

The other is that applicants will be able to specify three ANSZCO codes in a single application.

The price of filing an application has more than doubled compared to the previous cost of a single application, but with most current applicants filing two or more forms at a cost of around AU$550 ($360) apiece, the higher AU$1100 fee ($720) will still see many applicants come out ahead.

O'Sullivan is content that most applicants will bebetter out financially and in terms of the application experience. The ACS employs assessors who are expert at understanding how to match educational and work experience to ANZSCO codes as they process applications. At present, O'Sullivan explained, those assessors do a lot of back-and-forth to get applications ready for assessment. She expects the new form will mean assessors and candidates will have more meaningful interactions earlier in the visa application process.

O'Sullivan initially raised the prospect of 24-hour processing turnaround – which she said saw her team "nearly fall off their chairs" when they were told. When the new form goes live in March, she expects applicants will wait 60 business days – but hopes to reach 15 business days in the future.

Going much faster than that is not an option, as Australia's government wants to weed out fraudulent applications.

Immigration is a hot political issue in Australia, as in many countries. Even skilled migration is contentious, as Australia is experiencing a housing shortage that has seen the cost of accommodation surge. Migration targets have therefore been lowered for this year. And Big Tech's global layoffs have reached Australia, so plenty of locals are looking for a new gig.

Should you apply? As a happy Australian, your correspondent is obviously biased.

In an attempt to offer an objective view, I will admit that Australia's largest cities – Melbourne and Sydney – are expensive to inhabit by global standards, and increasingly congested. So signature experiences like a trip to the beach aren't carefree. Your dream of moving here and strolling into the surf every morning is not realistic – but also not out of reach in regional cities where professionals are sometimes loath to settle. Our politics have remained stable by the recent standards of the UK and USA, the economy is doing alright even if inflation hasn't returned to comfortable levels, and the healthcare system is mostly excellent.

And of course, The Register is here to keep you amused, too. ®

More about


Send us news

Other stories you might like