Australian Immigration Update - 1 July 2010

There are a number of important changes to migration rules from 1 July 2010. These have mainly to do with:
  • Skills Assessment for Accountants
  • Australian Citizenship
  • General Skilled Migration
  • Visa Application Fees

Accounting Skills Assessment

The requirements for skills assessment as an accountant will be changed for applications lodged after 1 July 2010. Amongst other things, applicants will require 7 minimum in each band of Academic IELTS. To avoid this requirement, we would recommend that clients look at lodging prior to 1 July to be considered under the old rules.

In the case of international students completing studies in 1st semester 2010, it is possible to lodge prior to completion of the course, providing all relevant documentation will be available prior to the end of August.

Australian Citizenship

People who became permanent residents prior to 1 July 2007 are able to apply under the old residence requirement for citizenship. They would need to show that they have been in Australia as a permanent resident for at least:
  • 2 of the last 5 years; and
  • 12 of the last 24 months
Under the new citizenship requirements, people need to show at least 4 years of residence in Australia to be eligible.

To apply under the old requirements, people need to lodge their application for citizenship prior to 1 July 2010. This can be done online relatively quickly so please contact us if you need assistance.

Visa Application Fees

New application fees will apply from 1 July 2010. Most have increased by 1.8%, but the contributory parent fees have increased by 10.6%. The new fees for common visa types will be as follows:
  • $2,575: Permanent and Provisional Skilled, Onshore ENS, Onshore Partner and Other Family
  • $1,735: Offshore ENS, Offshore Partner and Other Family
  • $235: Skilled Graduate
  • $265: 457
  • $550: Student
  • $37,965: Contributory Parent

Regulation Changes - General Skilled Migration

The Department of Immigration has enacted a number of changes to the Migration Regulations to give effect to the new SOL from 1 July 2010. However, there are also a few other important changes.

SOL and MODL

Under the new Regulations, the Minister can specify an SOL (Skilled Occupations List) and MODL (Migration Occupations in Demand List) which applies to certain classes of people but not others. This is presumably to facilitate the old SOL applying to people lodging after 1 July 2010, and the old MODL applying only to people who have applied for 485 visas prior to 8 February 2010.

There is specific mention that the SOL which applies to state/territory nominated applications may be different to that which applies to others, and this is in line with expectations. However, the Minister will have the power to specify any class of persons within reason.

We are yet to sight the SOL and MODL legislative instruments, and are awaiting clarification on a number of matters in relation to these.

Sponsorship by Relatives and State/Territory Governments

Under the new regulations, people need to be sponsored either by a relative or a state/territory government at the time of application to lodge a valid application for a Skilled - Sponsored or Skilled - Regional Sponsored visa.

Currently, there are only limited requirements for sponsorship to be finalised at date of application - for the Skilled - Regional Sponsored visa, you just need to indicate you've been sponsored, whereas for the Skilled - Sponsored there are no time of application requirements at all.

Whilst it will be possible to change sponsors for relative sponsorship after lodgement (eg if the relative dies or moves), the intention seems to be that it will not be possible to change over state/territory nominations in the same way.

457 and Occupational Trainee Nominations

Provisions have been made to accommodate nominations for occupations under the new ANZCO system from 1 July 2010. This implies that there will be a new ANZSCO- based occupations list for 457 visas and Occupational Trainee visas from 1 July.

In the case where there is no corresponding occupation on the new list, provision has been made for a refund of the application fee. This implies that there will not be a 100% correspondence between the old list and the new list - and we are still waiting for the new 457 list to be released.

Interestingly, there were no corresponding changes to the ENS legislation so perhaps we will not see a new ANZSCO based occupations list for ENS from 1 July.

Reopening of Offshore Skilled Migration

The regulation changes also allow for lodgement of offshore General Skilled Applications. The offshore program was suspended from 8 May 2010, and should reopen on 1 July 2010. Given that the lower planning levels for skilled migration for the next financial year, we would strongly recommending as early as possible after 1 July to facilitate speedy approval.

Contact us for Further Advice

Given the number and complexity of changes, please contact us if you need advice about lodging your individual situation without delay - it is possible that you may need to make an application prior to 1 July 2010 to avoid the effect of these changes.

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