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Skilled Migration: Australia Again Releases Details of Key Changes Immediately Before Xmas

Author: Alan Collett
Date: Friday, December 18, 2009
For the second year in a row Australia's Department of Immigration has announced important changes within days of the start of the Xmas and New Year holiday.

Edited on 22/12/2009 to include a link to the skilled occupations affected.

Last year's bombshell was the introduction of a Critical Skills List and a significant shake up of skilled visa processing priorities. This year we have two important alterations to skilled visa applications in the form of amendments to the Migration Regulations, as follows:

Offshore Skilled Visa Applicants
At present one of the threshold requirements that must be satisfied when a skilled visa application is lodged with the Department of Immigration is the need to have worked in a skilled occupation for at least 12 months in the 2 years immediately prior to the submission of the visa application. This work must be paid, and for at least 20 hours per week.

In addition, a skilled visa applicant must nominate in their visa application a skilled occupation (as defined) and - in the case of offshore applicants - undertake a formal assessment from the relevant delegated authority (eg Trades Recognition Australia, the Australian Computer Society, etc) of the applicant's competencies in a skilled occupation, as discussed more fully in DIAC booklet 1121i.

Importantly, at the present time, the skills assessment classification can be in a different occupation to that in which the visa applicant has been working in the 12 months out of 24 immediately prior to their visa application being lodged.

This is particularly relevant to individuals who have had a change of career, who can satisfy the qualifications/work experience requirements for a skills asssessment based on their initial occupation, but who cannot do so in their new occupation.

The change that comes into effect on 01/01/2010 is to require offshore skilled visa applicants (subclasses 175, 176, and 475) with occupations specified by the Immigration Minister - as noted here - to have a skills assessment classification in the same skilled occupation as that in which they have been working for a minimum of 12 months in the 2 years immediately prior to their visa application being submitted to the Department of Immigration.

The Explanatory Memorandum to the amending legislation advises that the change " ... will ensure that applicants for an offshore skilled visa who have nominated a (to be specified) skilled occupation hold relevant up-to-date practical experience in their nominated occupation."

Go Matilda recommends that persons with skilled occupation career changes as described above and who have obtained skills assessment classifications should therefore lodge their visa applications straightaway.

Onshore Skilled Visa Applicants
This change affects individuals who are applying for the grant of one of the following onshore skilled visas:

* 885: Skilled Independent (Permanent Visa)
* 886: Skilled Sponsored (Permanent Visa)
* 487: Skilled Regional Sponsored (3 year Provisional Visa)

At present, applicants for such a visa are required to confirm at the time their visa application is submitted that they have applied for a migration skills assessment issued by the competent assessing authority - it is not necessary for the skills assessment process to have been completed.

The change to the onshore visa subclasses noted above will require the migration skills assessment process to have been completed before the visa application is lodged with the Department of Immigration for all skilled occupations save for certain occupations that are specified by the Immigration Minister - as noted here.

Applicants for the subclass 485 Graduate Skilled visa are not affected by this amendment; the 485 visa is the 18 month temporary residency visa that is available to students who have been studying in Australia for at least two years, and is used to enable such individuals to obtain sufficient work experience/points as to enable them to apply for a permanent skilled visa.

These changes continue the Immigration Minister's moves to more closely regulate or "micro manage" the skilled migration program.

With a significant number of skilled visa applications already in the pipeline and little prospect of an increase in the number of available skilled visas we anticipate further changes are more likely in the coming months - Go Matilda continues to strongly recommend that individuals who intend to move to Australia under the skilled migration program and who have a pathway available should commence their application while the pathway remains available.

Go Matilda has many years of experience handling skilled visa applications.

Please contact us for a free initial discussion if you are an intending skilled visa applicant and are unsure what these changes mean for you and your move to Australia.



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