Top Ten Skilled Migration Changes from 1 July 2012
By Mark Webster
Tuesday, 05 June 2012
The Department of Immigration has released the legislation for the new General Skilled Migration visa subclasses which will apply from 1 July 2012.
We have now had a chance to review the legislation and get a detailed understanding of how the new visas will work.
Today we'll share with you a countdown for the ten most important changes for general skilled migration applicants applying for the new visa subclasses from 1 July.
As we have completed this countdown, another important change for General Skilled Migration has been announced.
0. A new pass mark for SkillSelect Visas
The current pass mark for General Skilled Migration Subclasses is 65. As of 1 July 2012, the pass mark will be 60 for those applying under the SkillSelect system.
You can read more in our specified article here.
1. Closure of the Current General Skilled Migration Subclasses
The current skilled visa subclasses will be closed over time. From 1 July 2012, it will no longer be possible to apply for the offshore general skilled visa subclasses (ie subclasses 175, 176 and 475).
The onshore visa subclasses for international students will continue until 1 January 2013, after which they will also be closed to new applications.
People who are currently eligible for skilled migration should look at applying before these closure dates to avoid disappointment.
2. SkillSelect for New Skilled Visa Subclasses
All of the new visa subclasses will require applicants to apply through the SkillSelect system. SkillSelect involves first making an "Expression of Interest" or EOI. The Department of Immigration will review the EOIs on a regular basis, and issue invitations to the "best" applicants. Only after receiving an invitation will it be possible to lodge a visa application.
The consequence of this is that potential applicants can never be sure if they will receive an invitation enabling them to apply for a skilled visa. Whether they receive an invitation will depend largely on their points score and the number of people who have made EOIs in the same occupational group.
3. Bridging Visas for Onshore Applicants
An Expression of Interest is not a visa application - as a result, making an Expression of Interest will not result in a bridging visa.
This is an important consideration for onshore applicants (mainly international students) who are currently able to apply directly for skilled migration without first receiving an invitation. International students whose visas are expiring would need to look at other visa options allowing them to remain in Australia whilst the invitation process is being completed (eg graduate skilled visas, 457 visas or further student visas).
4. Online Lodgement
The new skilled visa subclasses can only be lodged online. Currently, there is the option of lodging a paper application for skilled visas.
Unfortunately, it is common for there to be issues with the Department of Immigrations online application systems - for example:
They can be unavailable during peak application times; and
The system can block eligible visa applicants due to errors in business logic
5. Onshore Lodgement
The current system only allows international students and New Zealand citizens to apply onshore for general skilled visas.
Under the new system, it is possible to apply onshore if you have:
Any substantive visa (which could include 457s, visitors, and working holiday makers); or
A Bridging A, B or C visa
In addition, it is possible to get a waiver of a no further stay condition (8503, 8534 etc) when applying for a SkillSelect skilled migration visa.
This opens onshore lodgement to a much wider range of applicants than is currently the case.
Onshore lodgement has many advantages, for instance:
Access to a bridging visa allowing you to remain in Australia during processing of your visa application
Full work rights on your bridging visa
Wider appeal rights if the application is refused
No need to depart Australia for visa grant
6. Threshold Work Experience
The current recent work experience requirement for skilled migration (12 of the last 24 months) will not apply to the new visa subclasses.
As a result, people who have had a career break or change of occupation will have a better chance of qualifying for migration to Australia.
7. Qualifications and Australian Study
The Australian study requirement for a waiver of the work experience requirement will no longer apply. This currently requires international students to apply within 6 months of completion of their studies in Australia.
This allows international students who have completed studies more than 6 months ago to apply under SkillSelect.
An additional benefit is that the studies undertaken in Australia no longer need to be "closely related" to the nominated occupation. In fact, it is possible to obtain points for qualifications which are entirely unrelated to the occupation nominated in the application.
8. New Skilled Occupations List
A New Skilled Occupations List (SOL) applying to independent and family sponsored general skilled visas is due to be announced by Skills Australia shortly, and this will take effect from 1 July 2012.
In addition, the occupations list for State/Territory Nominated and Employer Sponsored visas is due to be combined into a single Consolidated Skilled Occupations List (CSOL) from 1 July 2012.
It is possible that the CSOL will be wider than the current State/Territory Nominated List, and also possible that some occupations will be removed from the SOL and we will advise on this website once the announcement is made.
9. Extended Validity of English Tests
English tests, such as IELTS and OET, will be valid for 3 years from 1 July 2012.
This will apply to all visa subclasses, not just the new General Skilled Subclasses, and will be a great relief to people whose tests would have expired under the current 2 year rule.
10. Including Family Members
It is currently not possible to include family members after lodgement for onshore general skilled visas.
This is a great inconvenience to international students, many of whom have waited years for processing of their applications. Many students get married after application, and need to wait until their skilled visas are approved before they can sponsor a spouse.
The new visa subclasses allow for relatives to be included after lodgement which will save a considerable amount of time and money for people in this situation.
The SkillSelect system and new visa subclasses are a radical change from the current general skilled system.
There will be many benefits - and pitfalls - to the new system.
An experienced Registered Migration Agent can help you navigate through the new system - please book an immigration consultation if you would like to discuss your situation in detail.