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New Points Tested Subclasses from 1 July 2012

By Mark Webster
17 April 2012

Details of the new General Skilled (Points Tested) visas to apply from 1 July 2012 have been released by the Department of Immigration.

New Skilled Migration Subclasses

The main subclasses will be as follows: There are a number of significant differences to the current General Skilled Subclasses.

SkillSelect Only Visas

The new visas can only be applied for through the SkillSelect system - SkillSelect requires that an Expression of Interest (EOI) be lodged first. The Department of Immigration (DIAC) will then select people from the EOI pool and invite them to apply for a skilled visa.

Under the pre 1-July system, it is possible to apply directly for General Skilled visas. This has advantages for applicants such as:

  • Immediate access to bridging visas for onshore lodgement
  • Higher degree of certainty of receiving a visa once passing skills assessment and meeting English and work experience requirements

Skilled Occupations List

The Skilled Occupations List for Skilled - Independent visas is likely to be revised on 1 July 2012, but at this point we do not anticipate significant changes. The same list will most likely apply where sponsored by a relative for Skilled - Nominated or Sponsored (Provisional) Subclass 489 visas.

However, the occupations list for applications nominated by a State or Territory Government will be changed from 1 July 2012. The list will be the same as the list for Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) and 457 visas and will be referred to as the Consolidated Sponsored Occupations List (CSOL).

It is likely that this list will include a wide range of ANZSCO occupations at skill levels 1 to 3, and this may result in more opportunities for state-nominated applicants.

Recent Work Experience/Study in Australia

General Skilled Visas currently require applicants to either:
  • Show that they have worked in skilled employment for at least 12 of the last 24 months; or
  • Have completed 2 years of study in Australia within the 6 months prior to application
The new General Skilled Subclasses do not require either of these. This is because applicants may be in the SkillSelect system for up to 2 years before receiving an invitation to apply for skilled migration.

Points Test

At this stage, there is no indication that the points test will be changed from 1 July 2012. In order to receive an invitation, you must meet the pass mark for the skilled migration points test.

As quotas will apply for each occupational category, the mark required to receive an invitation may be higher or lower depending on the occupation.

If the number of applications received is lower than anticipated, it is possible that the Department of Immigration may consider lowering the pass mark from the current 65.

Onshore/Offshore Lodgement

The current General Skilled Visas are split into onshore and offshore subclasses.

For instance, Skilled Independent has an onshore subclass for international students (subclass 885) and an offshore subclass for others (subclass 175).

The new visa subclasses can either be lodged onshore or offshore, and there is only one subclass for each visa type (eg for Skilled - Independent we have subclass 189 which can either be lodged onshore or offshore).

In order to lodge onshore under the new system, you must hold either a substantive visa (eg student visa, 457, visitor visa) or a Bridging A or B visa. This greatly expands the number of people who can lodge onshore - in particular, students may be able to lodge their applications ahead of completion of their studies, and 457 visa holders can apply onshore for general skilled visas for the first time.

Once you lodge onshore, you would receive a bridging visa allowing you to remain in Australia during processing of your application. It appears likely that this bridging visa would have full work rights, but we are awaiting confirmation of this from DIAC.

Including Family Members after Lodgement

For the current General Skilled Subclasses, it is only possible to include family members after lodgement in certain circumstances. For instance, it is not possible to include partners if lodging for onshore visa subclasses such as 885.

However, the new visa subclasses allow family members to be included after lodgement - even for onshore applications.

Conclusion

The advantage of the SkillSelect system is that applicants will receive much faster processing once invited to apply. There is also more flexibility in lodging onshore or offshore, and including family members. A wider range of occupations will apply for state-nominated applicants.

However, if you are eligible to apply prior to 1 July 2012, we would recommend you apply prior to the changes coming into effect to avoid disappointment. Under the new system, there is no way of knowing for sure whether you will receive an invitation from the Department of Immigration to apply, and this will largely depend on how many people have already applied in your occupation.

We are still awaiting release of the legislation for the new visa subclasses, and will update once this is available.

Please contact us if you would like to discuss how the changes will affect you.