Update on 2011-12 Migration Program, New Skilled Migration Points Test and Selection Model

By Mark Webster
27 May 2011

The Department of Immigration has made further details available on the 2011-12 Migration Program, the new Skilled Migration Points Test to apply from 1 July 2011, and the new Skilled Migration Selection Model to apply from 1 July 2012.

2011-12 Migration Program

The broad numbers for the 2011-12 Migration Program were announced on Budget night on 10 May 2011. However, the Department of Immigration has now released more exact details of the numbers for each of the skilled and family streams by visa type.

Below is a table summarising the program numbers by visa type for the 2011-12 financial year:

2010-11 2011-12 Change

Family Stream

Partner 42000 45400 3400
Child 3300 3450 150
Preferential/Other Family 750 1250 500
Parent 1000 2000 1000
Contributory Parent 7500 6500 -1000
Total Family Stream 54550 58600 4050

Skilled Stream

ENS + Labour Agreement 33990 30000 -3990
RSMS 10160 16000 5840
Total Employer Sponsored 44150 46000 1850
Skilled - Independent 34200 44350 10150
Skilled - State/Territory Sponsored 24000 24000 0
Skilled - Australian Sponsored 3500 4100 600
Total GSM 61700 72450 10750
Distinguished Talent 200 200 0
Business Skills 7800 7200 -600
Total Skilled Stream 113850 125850 12000
Special Eligibility 300 550 250
Total Migration Program 168700 185000 16300

It will be a great relief to people who have lodged for General Skilled visas to see that the total number of places allocated to this program has increased by 10,750 places. This should hopefully reduce the pipeline of applications considerably, and we are hoping that the backlog of priority group 4 applications will reduced in the coming program year.

There is also an increase of 3,400 in the partner stream which will go a long way to reducing the waiting time for people sponsoring partners.

New Skilled Migration Points Test

There have been a number of changes to the new points test to be introduced on 1 July 2011.

The legislation supporting the new points test has not yet been released, but we are expecting it will be available in the next couple of weeks.

Points for Work Experience

The initial announcement of points available for work experience only allowed recent work experience to be counted (for example, requiring the applicant to show they had worked in skilled employment for 3 of the last 5 years).

It is now clear that any work experience accumulated in the last 10 years will count for points:

Australian Work Experience Overseas Work Experience Points
1 of last 10 years 3 of last 10 years 5
3 of last 10 years 5 of last 10 years 10
5 of last 10 years 8 of last 10 years 15

These changes will be of great benefit to people who have had career breaks or who have changed occupation in the last 10 years.

It would also make it much easier to count both Australian and overseas work experience points at the same time - for instance if an applicant has worked in Australia for 3 of the last 10 years and also overseas for 5 of the last 10 years. A maximum of 20 points would be available in combining overseas and Australian work experience in this way.

Assessment of work experience will be done at the skills assessment stage. This means that skills assessing authorities will issue an opinion as to the amount of work experience an applicant has in their occupation, or closely related occupation. That might result in higher skills assessment fees for applicants who wish to claim points for work experience (eg for Nursing and other occupations which do not require evidence of work experience at the skills assessment stage).

Points for Overseas Qualification

Under the points test announced in November 2010, points are available for overseas PhDs, bachelor and master degrees, and recognised trade qualifications.

However, no points were available for people who held an overseas diploma-level qualification. This seems likely to change and it may be possible to obtain points for diploma-level qualifications obtained overseas. In claiming these points, an assessment of equivalency will be required from the skills assessing authority.

In the case that a skills assessing authority is not able to assess the equivalency of the qualification, an applicant may need to apply to AEI NOOSR for an assessment.

Selection Model Update

Additional information has been made available about how the new selection model to come into operation on 1 July 2012 will work.

The selection model will involve applicants first lodging an Expression of Interest, which is then assessed by the Department of Immigration. For selected applicants, a invitation to apply for a General Skilled or employer sponsored visa will then be issued.

The selection model will operate in a similar way to the Australian University admissions process in that a threshold pass mark will be set for each occupation to regulate the number of applicants issued with invitations to apply. For example, the threshold points score for a medical practitioner may be 50, whereas the required points for more common occupations such as accountants might be 70.

There is likely to be a fee for lodgement of an Expression of Interest to deter frivolous applications - there is no indication at this point as to how much the fee will be, but it is likely to be significantly less than the visa application fee (currently $2,575 but due to rise by 15% on 1 July 2011).

The current number of points tested skilled visa types is likely to be reduced significantly. Most likely there will be only two subclasses - a sponsored and an unsponsored type. Applicants can apply for either subclass onshore or offshore. This means that the applicant can either be in Australia or overseas at time of application and at time of grant of the application. It would also mean that bridging visas would be available for a much wider range of people applying for skilled migration - currently only international students and NZ citizens are eligible for bridging visas when applying for points tested skilled migration.

As new visa subclasses will be introduced, the current GSM subclasses will be more open to management by the "cap and cease" method. The Department of Immigration is not yet inclined to manage the backlog of applications via cap and cease, but introducing new subclasses will make cap and cease for older cases significantly easier.

The Department of Immigration has confirmed that when the system is introduced on 1 July 2012, it will take time for the system to populate, and that no offers are likely to be issued until January 2013. This means that the points tested skilled program will be closed to most applicants for 6 months. This is good news for people with applications in the skilled migration pipeline, but bad news for people who

Immigration is still to decide on how to handle "time of application" requirements such as English language, skills assessment, work experience and age. It is quite possible though that the time of application requirements will be taken as of the date the Expression of Interest is lodged, rather than when the visa application itself is lodged. This would be a fairer way to run the system as it would not be possible for an applicant to predict how long the Department of Immigration would take to process an Expression of Interest.

We expect further details to be released any day, so please register on our site for updates or contact us for advice on your situation.

Keep me updated - Immigration News

Stay up to date - Subscribe to Immigration News!