Exemptions for Skill and Age Requirements for Employer Sponsored Visas Announced

By Mark Webster
21 June 2012

Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) and Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) visas will be changing significantly from 1 July 2012.

An important part of the changes are new objective tests for exceptions to the age and skill requirement.

Age Exemptions

The maximum age for RSMS and ENS applications from 1 July 2012 is 49.

However, this requirement can be waived for:

  • Ministers of Religion who are nominated by a religious institution
  • Researchers and technical specialists nominated by Australian government agencies
  • Senior Academics nominated by an Australian university (Lecturer or Faculty Head)
  • People who have worked for their nominating employer on a 457 for the last 4 years and who are paid at least the Fair Work High Income Threshold (currently $118,000) for each of these years
These changes are particularly significant as under the pre-1 July ENS and RSMS subclasses, the maximum age is 44, with exemptions possible up to the age of 60.

Applicants over the age of 60 would be able to apply under the new system, providing they meet one of the above exemptions.

Skill Exemption

Applicants for the Direct Entry stream of ENS need to pass skills assessment and show that they have worked in their occupation for at least 3 years to qualify. Direct entry applicants for RSMS may also need to pass a skills assessment, particularly if they work in a trade occupation.

Exemptions will apply for:

  • Ministers of Religion who are nominated by a religious institution
  • Researchers and technical specialists nominated by Australian government agencies
  • Academics nominated by an Australian university (can include University Tutors, as well as Lecturers and Faculty Heads)
  • People with earnings at the Australian Tax Office top individual income tax rate (currently $180,000)
  • New Zealand citizens or NZ Citizen Family Relationship visa holders (Subclass 444 or 461) who have worked for their employer in their occupation for 2 of the last 3 years (excluding periods of unpaid leave
The minimum salary level for the skill exemption is significantly lower than expected - $180,000 rather than $250,000.

The exemption for NZ citizens is also new - New Zealanders and their family members now have an option to obtain an ENS or RSMS visa without needing to undergo skills assessment.

Note also that the range of university academics is also wider than for the Age exemption - university tutors are exempt from skills assessment, but would need to meet the age limit of 49.

Feel free to contact us if you would like more details on applying for Australian permanent residence.

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