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Changes to the permanent employer sponsored program

By Mei Hoong on 7 May 2012 10:25am

Reforms to the permanent employer sponsored migration program will improve the program’s ability to meet Australia’s economic needs and simplify the pathway for 457 visa holders to permanent residence.

The reforms, effective 1 July, are designed to help the Australian Government respond swiftly to labour market demands, while ensuring that limited program places go to those who will make the greatest contribution to Australia.

 A new visa structure will be introduced, which comprises two new visas replacing the current employer sponsored visa classes and subclasses. (http://www.immi.gov.au/skilled/skilled-workers/_pdf/skilled-migration-diagrams.pdf)

The new visa structure includes the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) and the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS).

The ENS allows Australian employers to sponsor skilled foreign workers to address skill shortages in their business located throughout Australia. The RSMS is designed to support employers in regional, remote or low population growth areas, to recruit the skilled workers they need to manage and grow their operations where they cannot be filled locally.

Within each of these visas are three streams:

  1. Temporary Residence Transition stream for subclass 457 visa holders who have worked for their employer for two years and the employer wants to offer them a permanent position in that occupation.
  2. Direct Entry stream for ENS and RSMS applicants who are untested in the Australian workforce and are not catered for in the Temporary Residence Transition or Agreements streams. Within this stream the range of occupations has broadened to include ANZSCO skill levels 1–3 occupations.
  3. Agreements stream for applicants who are sponsored by an employer through a labour agreement or regional migration agreement.

 An employer or visa applicant will need to meet the requirements of the particular stream.

 

Simplifying the pathway to permanent residence

The permanent employer sponsored program reforms will see the implementation of a streamlined pathway to permanent residence for subclass 457 visa holders under the new Temporary Residence Transition stream.

 The transition to permanent residence will be simpler and fast-tracked for applicants who hold a 457 visa and have worked for the same employer for a continuous period of two years on a full-time basis. Their English language ability will not be further scrutinised if they have previously completed tests for their 457 visa application, registration or licensing. However, if the applicant has not completed an International English Language Test System (IELTS) test, they may be required to meet the English language capability assessment—with a minimum of IELTS 5 in all modules (or equivalent).

For applicants who do not meet the Temporary Residence Transition stream, then the Direct Entry or Agreements streams are options available for consideration.

The Direct Entry stream is a more rigorous application process for applicants who have not been tested or proven in the Australian labour market. The minimum standard will be set higher for skills assessments and English language skills with a required IELTS rating of 6. In recognition of the value of extensive work experience, applicants up to 50 years of age can apply.

The Agreements stream will continue to allow employers to recruit a specified number of semi-skilled or highly skilled workers under a labour agreement negotiated by the employer with the government. The skills, age and English language requirements for workers under labour agreements will continue to be negotiated according to the needs of Australian employers.

 There will be opportunity for exemptions approved by the minister for age, skills and English language ability. Exemptions will be based on a person’s nominated occupation, salary or the time they have been employed with their nominator.

 

 For more information on the changes see the Frequently Asked Questions on the department’s website at www.immi.gov.au/skilled/.

11 Comments
  1. Nick Williams says:

    Hello Meihoong,

    In the blog you write:

    “There will be opportunity for exemptions approved by the minister for age, skills and English language ability. Exemptions will be based on a person’s nominated occupation, salary or the time they have been employed with their nominator.”

    From the previously released DIAC material I was of the understanding that English language exemptions would only be given to passport holders of certain countries, and (in some cases) to applicants who have completed five years of secondary / tertiary schooling conducted in English.

    Based on your comment above, is DIAC advising that there may be English language exemptions based on a person’s nominated occupation, salary or the time they have been employed with their nominator?

    • meihoonglai says:

      Hi Nick,

      Yes, you are correct. Applicants who hold a valid passport from the United States of America, United Kingdom, Canada, the Republic of Ireland or New Zealand and are applying under the ENS or RSMS Direct Entry stream, Temporary Residence Transition stream or Agreements stream from 1 July 2012 will be exempt from the English language requirement.

      Additional exemptions to the English language requirement will also be available to applicants:
      • nominated in an occupation that the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship considers is exempt, for instance Ministers of Religion; or
      • who have obtained a score of at least ‘B’ in each component of the OET.

      I would also like to highlight that the exemption for English language for people who have completed at least five consecutive years of full-time study in a secondary and/or higher education institution where all of the tuition was delivered in English will only be available to applicants applying through the Temporary Residence Transition stream.

      I hope the information helps.

      Keep an eye on the website as we’ll provide a one pager on the exemptions closer to 1 July 2012.

      Mei Hoong

  2. Ly says:

    Hi,

    I am currently holding Visa 457 and I have been in Australia for 6 months. According to the new scheme, I can apply under “Direct Entry Stream” and this requires IELTS to be band 6 for all components.

    I sat for IELTS in April 2009 and got the required band. Do I need to sit for the IELTS test again to submit the Direct Entry Stream application?

    Thanks,
    Ly

    • meihoonglai says:

      Hi Ly,

      If you apply for a permanent employer sponsored visa through the Direct Entry stream you will need to show that you have competent English, which is equivalent to a minimum IELTS score of 6 in all test components.

      IELTS tests scores are valid for three years. Because your results are now more than three years old you will need to present more recent evidence that shows you meet the English language requirement, such as sitting another IELTS test.

      Mei Hoong

  3. David says:

    Dear meihoonglai,
    Would you give me more specific ideas on “3. Agreement stream” (eg Employer/employee eligiblity? Salary level?)
    And, is this the OFFICIAL blog of the immigration department? There are other private blogs…so I’m not sure how I can be assured on any information on this blog.
    Thank you.
    Sincerely,
    David

    • meihoonglai says:

      Hi David,

      This blog is the official Department of Immigration and Citizenship migration blog. The blog is a platform for sharing information about migration. Each question posted is responded to by a subject matter expert working for the department.

      From 1 July 2012, the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) and the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) will each have three new streams: the Direct Entry stream, the Temporary Residence Transition stream and the Agreements stream.

      The Agreements stream is for applicants who are being sponsored by an Australian employer through a scrutinised Labour Agreement or Regional Migration Agreement.

      An Australian employer can only enter a Labour Agreement or Regional Migration Agreement through successful negotiations with the Commonwealth government. Labour agreements may allow for the recruitment of a specified number of skilled workers from overseas in response to identified skills shortages in the Australian labour market.

      A Labour Agreement is designed to ensure that overseas recruitment supports the longer term improvement of employment and training opportunities for Australians. Therefore, employers are required to make commitments to the employment, education, training and career opportunities of Australians as part of the agreement.

      The Australian employer must demonstrate they are actively and lawfully operating a business in Australia. They must provide working conditions and ‘market salary rate’ of pay equivalent to an Australian citizen or permanent resident who is employed in the same position in the same location to ensure Australian working standards and pay are not undermined.

      The Agreements stream further caters for employers seeking to sponsor specialised semi-skilled applicants who are unable to meet the requirements under the Direct Entry or Temporary Residence Transition stream to consider this stream. I would also like to highlight that the criteria and requirements are negotiated and specified in the relevant Labour Agreement or Regional Migration Agreement.

      A further blog on the Agreements stream will be uploaded shortly to provide further information about the program.

      I hope this information will assist you.

      Mei Hoong

  4. Winnie says:

    Hi ,

    I’m currently holding visa 485 which will be expired next March. I’ve been working in an Australian company for 2 years based on my nominated occupation as a marketing specialist.

    Can this company sponsor for me under new ENS visa program?

    • meihoonglai says:

      Hi Winnie,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Temporary residents, who are currently living and working in Australia, are holders of a substantive visa or bridging A, B or C visa holder can be nominated by an Australian employer to apply for an Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa or a Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) visa.

      You will not be eligible to apply through the Temporary Residence Transition stream because you have not been working in your nominated job with your nominating employer in your skilled occupation for the last two years as a subclass 457 visa holder.

      However, you may still apply for permanent residence through the permanent employer sponsored program if you meet the requirements under the Direct Entry stream. Please see http://www.immi.gov.au/skilled/skilled-workers/permanent-employer-sponsored-visa-whats-new.htm questions 1-12 ‘For visa applicants’ of the Frequently Asked Question s outlining the Direct Entry requirements.

      I hope this information is of assistance.

      Mei Hoong

  5. Shaun says:

    Hi Mei Hoong
    I am currently on a 457 visa and have been in Australia for 3 years. Would my spouse also need to do the IELTS test as she is fully dependent on me or can she be exempt.

    Hi Shaun,

    All family members who are 18 years or older that are included in an Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) or Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) application need to demonstrate a functional level of English.

    Some methods of demonstrating this level of English language proficiency include:

    • having an IELTS score of at least 4.5 for each of the four test components (speaking, reading, listening and writing). IELTS test scores are valid for a period of three years. The nearest test centre can be found on the IDP Education website http://www.idp.com;
    • an Occupational English test score which is at least equivalent to IELTS 4.5;
    • evidence that you have been assessed by an Adult Migrant English Program provider in Australia as having functional English;
    • completion at least five consecutive years of full-time study in a secondary and/or higher education institution where all the tuition was delivered in English; or
    • you hold a current passport from the United Kingdom, United States, New Zealand, Canada or the Republic of Ireland.

    Any family members who are 18 years or older who do not have, or cannot demonstrate, a functional level of English will be required to pay the second instalment of the Visa Application Charge.

    The Visa Application Charges will be available on the department’s website http://www.immi.gov.au and are subject to adjustments on 1 July each year.

    I hope this information helps.

    Mei Hoong

  6. Nyle says:

    Hi! I already finished my hairdressing course and i took up business management. I still didn’t get ielts 6.0 in all components, is there other way to apply in any visa to change my status from student visa? Thanks!

    Hi Nyle,

    I am unable to provide specific advice on which visa option or pathway is best suited to you. However, there is a lot of useful information on the different types of visas available on the department’s website: http://www.immi.gov.au. On the website you could use Visa Wizard ‘Finding a visa’ to help you find a visa that suits you.

    I hope this information helps.

    Mei Hoong

  7. Ali Syed says:

    Hi

    I am currently on a bridging visa (Visa 886, date applied = Oct 2009)..

    I have been working as an I.T Consultant for a software company here in NSW.

    1.) Am i eligible for applying for ENS to obtain my P.R
    2.) Can my employer in anyway help my existing 886 application speeden up?
    3.) Or the best my employer can do is file for 457.

    I hope my questions make sense..
    Thank you in advance.

    Regards
    Ali

    Hi Ali,

    To be eligible for an ENS visa you will need to meet the age, skills, English language and other requirements. Further information on specific visa requirements can be found on the department’s website http://www.immi.gov.au/skilled/skilled-workers/permanent-employer-sponsored-visa-whats-new.htm.

    I am unable to comment on your specific case, you can check the standard visa processing times on this link http://www.immi.gov.au/about/charters/client-services-charter/standards/2.1.htm or contact your case officer to find out the progress of your case.

    I am also unable to provide any advice on your current circumstances and visa options. To consider the different types of visas available please visit the department’s website on http://www.immi.gov.au and go to Visa Wizard ‘Find a visa’ to see what visas you may wish to apply for.

    Mei Hoong

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