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Skilled Visas: The Expression of Interest Model - A Radical Change to Skilled Visa Processing

Author: Alan Collett
Date: Tuesday, September 27, 2011
The Australian Government has decided to significantly alter the processing of most skilled visa applications, with the introduction of an Expression of Interest (EoI) model, scheduled to commence on 1st July, 2012.

As the time of writing this article the proposal (see the weblink below for full details) is in a development stage, and consultations are ongoing. The Department of Immigration advises that further changes are possible, but that " ... the key features are settled."

At present intending applicants for an Australian offshore skilled visa are able to lodge a valid application for the grant of a visa if they satisfy threshold requirements for migration. These include (but are not limited to):

* Being aged under 50

* Nominating an occupation on the Skilled Occupation List (SOL)

* Obtaining a positive skills assessment from the relevant assessing authority for the nominated occupation

* Securing the required points pass mark

* Lodging the relevant visa application form/s and paying the 1st Visa Application Charge

The proposal is to move to a two stage process in which those who would like to move to Australia will initially submit an online Expression of Interest.

Skilled individuals who have lodged an EoI will be ranked, and then selected - ie invited to apply - for skilled migration to Australia.

More specifically
Applicants will be initially required to nominate a skilled occupation, and obtain a positive skills assessment from the relevant assessing authority for the nominated occupation (as now) before the EoI is submitted.

They will also be able to indicate whether they want to be considered for any or all of:

* An independent or family skilled visa

* A State/Territory sponsored skilled visa

* Employer sponsored migration

It will not be necessary to lodge other documents to support the application at the EoI stage.

Details submitted by applicants will then be retained on a Department of Immigration database, which is accessible by the Department of Immigration - and by State/Territory Governments, and Department of Immigration approved employers, both of which can select individuals for migration to Australia.

Individuals who are not selected for migration by a State/Territory Government or an Australian employer will be ranked, based on:

* The points attained in the skilled migration points test, and then

* Chronological order of submission of the EoI where applicants have equal points

The Skilled Migrant Selection Register, or SkillSelect (understood to be under the supervision of the Department of Immigration) will identify the occupations required in Australia, and the ceiling on the number of individuals within each occupation group that are required by Australia each year.

Individuals from each occupation group will then be selected and invited to apply for migration to Australia based on their ranking, as described above.

Once the numerical ceiling for each occupation group is reached each year no further invitations for migration to Australia will be issued, even if there are places in other occupation groups for individuals with lower points scores.

In so doing the Australian Government considers it will ensure that the Skilled - Independent visa category in particular is not dominated by certain occupations, as has been the case in previous years.

Selections of skilled individuals from the database will take place at regularly scheduled intervals, with the initial selection round to take place in January, 2013.

Go Matilda understands and accepts the need to manage the skilled migration program for the benefit of the Australian economy - and acknowledges the shortcomings of the present set up in which many skilled visa applicants are being left in a state of limbo for significant periods.

Our concerns are primarily over the need for intending skilled migrants to commit to fairly significant expenditure on the skills assessment process and an IELTS test, with no certainty that they will progress beyond an EoI.

The cost of a skills assessment and an IELTS test can run into several thousands of $'s - and the time required to complete these components is often many months.

Furthermore once an EoI is lodged it may be 6 months before an applicant is selected for migration - after which the visa application process is still to be undertaken.

While the present demand for skilled migration to Australia clearly significantly exceeds the available number of visas it would be prudent for the Australian Government to recognise that the situation may not endure.

Nevertheless, we are broadly in favour of the EoI model, so long as the dates on which applicants are selected from the EoI database are reasonably frequent (say monthly), rather than being at 6 monthly intervals.

This will help applicants' advisors and Department of Immigration case officers to manage what would otherwise be a surge in their workloads.

We will publish more information on Go Matilda News about this significant change to the skilled migration program as soon as it becomes known to us.

Go Matilda has many years of experience and has helped thousands of families move to Australia under the skilled migration program. We progress our clients' visa applications quickly, and when possible are proactive in ensuring our clients achieve their wish to live in Australia.

If you are a skilled individual and are interested in moving to Australia please contact us for a free initial discussion.

Weblink:  http://www.immi.gov.au/skilled/general-skilled-migration/skillselect.htm


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