The permanent employer-sponsored visa program will be simplified by creating a fast-track for skilled migrants to settle and work in Australia, announced the federal government on Friday.

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen said “the Government will establish a fast-tracked pathway from the temporary skilled subclass 457 visa to permanent residence under the employer-sponsored visa program, enabling skilled migrants to settle and work in regional and metropolitan Australia”.

“These reforms will make it easier for businesses and potential migrants to navigate the permanent employer-sponsored visa program, while ensuring the integrity of our visa system.”

The changes include: replacing the current six permanent employer-sponsored visas with two new visas; and consolidating the existing three sponsored occupation lists – subclass 457, employer nomination, and state and territory sponsored general skilled migration lists – into one list. The reforms will commence on 1 July 2012.

“Skilled migrants deliver major benefits to the Australian economy in terms of contributing to economic growth and offsetting the impacts of an ageing population,” Mr Bowen said. “We know these workers can do the job and are ready to make a commitment to Australia, so it makes sense to streamline their pathway to permanent residence.”

For more information on the changes visit