Reforms to the subclass 457 visa commenced on 1 July.
How will the changes affect Australian businesses?
The changes will not adversely affect the majority of employers who are using the program appropriately. The changes will, however, strengthen the government’s capacity to identify and prevent employer practices that are not in keeping with the purpose of the subclass 457 program.
If the department has any concerns that an employer is not committed to training Australians, or a nominated position may not be genuine, then they may be requested to provide additional justification before a sponsorship or nomination can be approved.
Sponsors are also required to understand their new obligations.
How will the changes affect current subclass 457 visa holders?
There will be no adverse effects on existing visa holders. However, visa holders should note the changes to the English language and skills requirements if they plan to change employment, change their occupation or seek a further subclass 457 visa.
How will the changes affect subclass 457 visa applicants?
All subclass 457 visa applications lodged before 1 July 2013 but not finalised, will be subject to the new visa requirements. Your case officer will request further information if required.
All subclass 457 visa applications that are lodged after 1 July 2013 will be subject to the new visa requirements. The majority of subclass 457 visa applicants will not be affected by the changes.
In some circumstances further evidence to demonstrate claims for a subclass 457 visa may be required. Visa applicants should note the changes to the English language and skills requirements.
Are there changes to how subclass 457 applications can be lodged?
All subclass 457 sponsorship, nomination and visa applications must now be lodged online. Paper applications are no longer accepted.
For more information on the changes please visit the department’s website.
The SOL is a really useful tool for giving people who want to migrate to Australia a clear idea of just what skills are in short supply here over the next three to five years. You can check if your skills are needed in Australia by referring to the current list on the department’s website.
What is the SOL and what does it do?
The Skilled Occupation List (SOL) is a list of skilled occupations that deliver high value skills needed by the Australian economy. The SOL only applies to independent, that is non-employer sponsored or State/Territory government nominated skilled migration. It aims to meet medium- to long-term skills needs of high value occupations, rather than immediate short term shortages. This means your occupation must be on the SOL if you are applying for:
• points based skilled migration independently (not nominated by a State or Territory government);
• Subclass 485 (Temporary Graduate visa in the graduate work stream); or
• family sponsored stream of the Subclass 489 Skilled Regional (Provisional) visa.
Who updates it, and how?
Every year, the SOL is reviewed and re-examined by the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency (AWPA) and as a result of this review, the SOL is updated on 1 July. When AWPA reviews the SOL, it uses a combination of macro-economic data, labour market data and consultations with relevant industry bodies to identify occupations where independent skilled migration is a sensible approach to help ensure a good match between supply and demand for skills in the medium and longer term. This year’s review included submissions from unions, peak industry associations, industry skills councils and a range of professional associations.
When providing advice as to what occupations should be included on the SOL, AWPA takes into account factors such as an occupation’s skill level, the lead time necessary to develop the required skills, whether the skills are deployed for the use intended and the economic impacts of a skills shortage in particular occupations.
AWPA advised the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship on the 2013 SOL, including some changes, which you can see here
Are there options available if my Nominated Occupation isn’t on the SOL?
If you don’t have an occupation on the SOL, you may be eligible for State and Territory nomination or employer sponsorship. Employers, as well as States and Territory governments, have access to a wider range of occupations on the Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL). We’ll have a look at the CSOL in my next blog post.
Since 1 July 2012, SkillSelect is the only way you can be nominated by a state or territory government for skilled migration. Since May 2013, state and territory governments across Australia have nominated almost 20 000 intending migrants and more than 10 000 of those have been granted a visa.
SkillSelect provides an effective way for states and territories to find and engage with skilled workers in order to meet their specific skills shortages. SkillSelect makes the nomination process simpler and more efficient than ever before. So how does it work?
State and territory governments first identify the skills and qualifications they need in their local labour markets. Then they nominate skilled workers directly from SkillSelect. The workers they choose must have occupations listed on the Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL). The CSOL contains more occupations (644 in total) than the Skilled Occupation List (which contains 192 occupations) so your chances of being nominated are higher.
There are benefits for you in being nominated too.
If you are nominated by a state or territory, you receive an extra five points for a Skilled – Nominated (subclass 190) visa and 10 points for a Skilled – Nominated (Provisional) (subclass 489) visa under the Points Test. So it’s worth considering putting yourself up for nomination if you are close to the Points Test pass mark as an independent migrant.
Nomination by a state or territory through SkillSelect means that you will be issued an invitation to apply for a visa as soon as you are nominated, rather than having to wait for a scheduled invitation round to take place.
Your application will be processed as a high priority if a state or territory nominates you.
In return, if a state or territory nominates you and your visa application is successful, you’ll need to commit to remaining in that state or territory for a period of time. There may be other obligations for nomination by specific states or territories.
If you want to be nominated by a state or territory government, check out their websites to find out what you need to do to gain their nomination.
So if you have the skills Australia needs, submit an expression of interest (EOI) in SkillSelect today so state and territory governments can find out about you.
Even if you have already submitted an EOI, you can still update your EOI to show your interest in state or territory nomination.
More information about state and territory nominated visas is available on the department’s website.
Australia’s migration program for 2013–14 was announced in May 2013. This sets the number of places available for people who want to migrate to Australia permanently. But have you considered how the Australian Government plans and determines the size and composition of the program each year?
To manage permanent migration to Australia, the government sets annual planning levels, which determine the number of people who may be granted the privilege to call Australia home each year.
The planning levels are informed by many factors, including:
- social, demographic and economic trends
- government policies relative to migration and population
- expected demand for skilled labour
- estimated demand for family reunion places
- net overseas migration levels.
The department also undertakes comprehensive consultations with state and territory governments, industry and community leaders to prepare advice about migration levels and inform its submission to government on the size and composition of the migration program for the following year.
In 2013–14 the migration program maintained 190 000 places with a small reallocation of 700 places from skilled to family migration.
The shift in places between skilled and family will result in 128 550 places available in the skill stream and 60 885 places available in the family stream in 2013–14. The remaining 565 places in the migration program are allocated to the special eligibility stream, which hasn’t changed from the previous program year.
During the past decade the composition of the migration program has shifted towards the skilled component in support of Australian labour demands. The skilled migration program has evolved into a mix of demand driven and independent skilled migration.
A slight rebalance of the program in 2013–14 will continue to respond to Australia’s skills shortages under a slightly softer labour market, while addressing the strong demand for family reunification, enabling more Australians to unite with their close relatives.
With the launch of SkillSelect in July 2012, the skilled component of the migration program has become more targeted—helping the Australian Government to better deliver the skills Australia needs.
For more detailed information on the 2013–14 migration program go to the migration program fact sheets available on the department’s website.
Australia continues to draw high levels of interest from international visitors according to the latest departmental Visitor visa program quarterly report for the period ending 31 March 2013.
The report shows there were more than 247 000 visitor visa holders in Australia at the end of March, an increase of 12 per cent compared to the same time last year.
The department has granted almost three million visitor visas this financial year to 31 March, which is about six per cent higher than last year.
Interest from Asia continues to rise with tourism visa applications from China up 19 per cent (more than 310 000 applications), Malaysia up 14 per cent (more than 149 000 applications) and applications from Singapore up almost 29 per cent (more than 107 000 applications).
The report also outlines the key initiatives for the visitor visa program in 2012–13, including the simplification of the visitor visa group to five new visitor visa subclasses on 23 March.
Further enhancements are planned for the visitor visa program with the expansion of online visitor visa applications later in the year. These enhancements will make it possible for visitors from a growing list of countries to apply for their visa online.
More than 2000 residents attended the recent Working Abroad expo in Singapore, with DIAC presentation sessions proving popular throughout. Many Singapore residents spoke to our experts about migrating to Australia on skilled visas and submitting expressions of interest through SkillSelect.
There was a variety of nationalities attending the May 11-12 expo, including both Singaporeans and an array of third party nationals. Most residents who attended were nursing, engineering and IT professionals. Migrants who hold such professions are highly sought after as they are able to assist in filling skill shortages in the Australian labour market.
Overall, the expo was a success for the department, with staff helping highly skilled potential migrants better understand the SkillSelect process and the options available for skilled migration.
There has never been a better time for eligible skilled migrants to come to Australia though SkillSelect, with short processing times for successful applicants.
To find out if your occupation is in demand, check out the SOL/CSOL on: www.immi.gov.au/skilled/sol/
If you have an occupation Australia needs and you can meet the visa requirements, log into SkillSelect today and tell us about yourself and what you can bring to Australia’s workplace at: www.skillselect.gov.au.
Some of the claims in a recent mainstream media report about same-sex marriage and skilled migration were wrong. Brian Greig’s Sydney Morning Herald report ‘Banning gay marriage impacts on skilled migration’ (18 May 2013) claimed that by not recognising same-sex marriage, Australia is causing skilled workers from overseas to bypass Australia in favour of countries that recognise their marriage. Let’s address some of the issues raised and correct some inaccuracies.
In the article, the author says little has changed since 2005, a time when skilled visa applicants with a same-sex partner could not include them in their application.
This is incorrect. In 2009 changes to Commonwealth law removed discrimination against same-sex couples and their children. As part of these changes, new definitions of ‘spouse’ and ‘de facto’ partner were introduced into the Migration Act 1958 (the Migration Act) such that same-sex couples were given the same entitlements as heterosexual couples. This paved the way for all visa applicants to include their same-sex partners and allowed those partners the same work rights as ‘spouses’. It’s a shame the report got this so wrong.
While the article is correct to say the status of ‘de facto’ for same-sex couples is not automatic this is misleading as no relationship status is automatic for migration purposes. All couples — married or de facto — are required to demonstrate their relationship is genuine and continuing, that they have a mutual commitment to a shared life and that they live together on a permanent basis.
The claim that couples must spend ‘a two year period of co-habitation on our shores’ is also misleading. Permanent visas and some temporary visas generally require de facto couples to demonstrate their relationship has existed for at least 12 months before they lodge their visa application. There is an exemption to this requirement for de facto couples who have registered their relationship under an Australian state or territory scheme, regardless of their sexual orientation.
It is true that a same-sex marriage that is legally solemnised overseas is not recognised for migration purposes. This is because the Migration Act mirrors the Marriage Act 1961 (the Marriage Act) which means that only marriages valid under the Marriage Act can be recognised when assessing visa applications. While their same-sex marriage is not recognised, couples can still be recognised and assessed under the de facto provisions. The fact that a marriage occurred overseas can be taken into account in this assessment.
While Australia’s migration law does not currently recognise a same-sex marriage solemnised overseas, it is taken to be a de facto relationship which hence gives these people the same entitlements as heterosexual married or de facto couples.
Last weekend, the department attended the
Working Abroad Expo in Kuala Lumpur and gave residents the opportunity to speak to our experts about migrating to Australian on a skilled visa. This opportunity presents itself again, specifically to anyone who lives in Singapore as DIAC will attend the expo in Singapore on May 11-12.
Our experts will be available to talk to you throughout the day about the different visa options available for living and working in Australia. They will also answer any questions about submitting an expression of interest through the SkillSelect website and will present each day from 1.15–2.00 pm.
When: May 11-12, 11.00 am to 4.00 pm
Where: Traders Hotel Singapore, 1A Cuscaden Road, Singapore
To register online or for more information, visit www.Workingabroad.net/exhibitions-and-events/singapore/
The Working Abroad Expo in Kuala Lumpur saw around 1000 attendees over the weekend of May 4-5. Many attendees found the information presented by our experts to be very valuable.
If you are unable to attend the expo in Singapore then you can learn more about SkillSelect by visiting www.immi.gov.au/skills/skillselect/
Remember, there is no better time to express your interest through SkillSelect, so read about our top 10 tips here:
Calling all students
Have you recently completed an English language test?
If so, we’d like to hear from you.
Fill in our short survey and let us know about your recent experience with English language tests. You can find the survey here www.surveymonkey.com/s/RG83W23 If you have any difficulties with the link please copy and paste it into your web browser.
Your feedback is important to us and will help inform the department’s review of its expanded English language testing arrangements for students.
The survey will remain open until 5pm AEST 20 May 2013.
Changes have been made to the cancellation regime for student visa holders who breach their visa conditions. Automatic and mandatory cancellations no longer exist and departmental officers now use a discretionary framework to consider breaches of visa conditions.
Automatic and mandatory student visa cancellations were abolished on 13 April 2013. This means that students who do not meet attendance or course progress requirements, or work for more than 40 hours per fortnight no longer face automatic or mandatory cancellation of their visa.
All international students are required to abide by their visa conditions, however if they do breach them they are now subject to a discretionary cancellation framework. The discretionary framework allows departmental officers to take the circumstances of an individual student into consideration when assessing visa condition breaches and making a decision on whether or not to cancel a visa.
The discretionary framework will lead to fairer outcomes for students. For example, it will enable the department to consider individual circumstances, such as where a student may be struggling with particular unit choices and could benefit from a change of course or education provider.
The move to a discretionary framework does not change an education provider’s responsibility to report a student for breaching a visa condition. Providers still have to advise a student when they have breached a visa condition that they may be reported to the department. The provider should also have in place a process for the student to appeal. If an appeal is unsuccessful an education provider must report the student to the department so that a case officer can consider the breach under the discretionary cancellation framework.
More information about the cessation of automatic and mandatory cancellation is available on the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s website www.immi.gov.au/students/.