The Accredited Sponsor Scheme, which allows rapid processing of skilled visas, is to be substantially expanded in a move that will benefit many Australian businesses.
Accredited sponsors typically have their Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa processed within five business days, compared to an average 42 business days for other TSS applicants.
Employers that have made major investments in their Australian operations will be assisted to fill temporary skill gaps through an expansion of the Scheme.
Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs David Coleman said employers that have invested in the past five years at least $50 million into their Australian business will now be eligible for the Scheme.
The investment must have directly created Australian jobs or generated export activity.
"Extending the scheme to reputable businesses that have invested $50 million in Australia will ensure those businesses can access the skilled workers they need, and they can continue to contribute to the economy through further investment, job creation and innovation," Mr Coleman said.
"I have also instructed the Department to establish a new dedicated team to proactively identify and invite eligible employers to join the Scheme.
"By doing this the Government is creating more certainty and confidence for business to know they will have the workers they need, when they need them."
Currently, there are 900 businesses and government organisations that have been accredited under the Scheme. It is expected that the number of accredited sponsors will almost triple to 2500 by the end of the calendar year.
To become an Accredited Sponsor, businesses must demonstrate an unblemished track record of compliance with Australian migration and employment law.
Labour market testing will also be required to ensure employment opportunities are first offered to Australians prior to filling a vacancy.
"Our first priority must always be to fill available jobs with Australian workers," Mr Coleman said.
"This has been and remains our key focus, which is reflected in the unemployment rate falling to five per cent and record job creation across Australia.
"However, where skills are unavailable in Australia, we must ensure businesses can access the global pool of skilled workers so they can continue to thrive and generate the best economic contribution for Australia."