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Australian immigration changes coming on 1 July - State and Territory changes

by Lauren 6/30/2009 5:29:00 PM

It is anticipated that South Australia will make
state sponsorship changes on 1 July 2009.

Following on from my Australian immigration blogs regarding the changes coming from DIAC and the changes coming from the assessing bodies, I'd now like to discuss the changes that will be implemented by some of Australian States and Territories on 1 July.

South Australia state sponsorship changes

The current South Australia sponsorship lists are dated as being valid from 1 April - 30 June.  While they've yet to release anything officially, I think it can be assumed that a new set of provisional and permanent sponsorship lists for South Australia will be released on 1 July.

Western Australia English language requirement changes

Western Australia have stated the following on their website:

"The Department of Immigration and Citizenship has announced that from 1 July 2009 ALL offshore skilled visa applicants, other than those who are citizens of the UK, USA, Ireland, Canada or New Zealand, must obtain a score of at least 6 in each component of the IELTS test. When lodging a State sponsorship application, all applicants that are required to provide IELTS test results are now required to provide an eligible IELTS test result at time of application."

As a result, from 1 July, all applicants required to provide International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test results at any other stage of the visa application stage must also make sure to do so when applying for Western Australia state sponsorship.

ACT state sponsorship changes

The current Australian Capital Territory (ACT) sponsorship lists are set to close on the 1 July, and any ACT state sponsorship application received after this date will NOT be approved unless the application meets the criteria established by the new list that is set to be released mid-July.

Other State and Territory changes

As evident in the planned 1 July changes and the recent sponsorship list updates made by Queensland, the Australian States and Territories under pressure to react to the new demand created as a result of state sponsored visa applications receiving priority 1 processing status. However, it's still very hard to say what further changes can be expected and whether they'll be temporary or permanent measures, so it is still advisable for anyone looking for state sponsorship to apply for nomination as soon as possibe.

- Lauren Mennie is Casework Department Manager for the Australian Visa Bureau

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

Australian immigration changes coming on 1 July - Skills Assessing Body changes

by Lauren 6/30/2009 3:59:00 PM

TRA is just one of the skills assessing bodies
who will be making changes on 1 July 2009. 

Following on from my Australian immigration blog regarding the changes coming from DIAC, I'd now like to discuss the changes that will be implemented by some of the key Australian skills assessing bodies on 1 July.

Changes from the TRA

Trades Recognition Australia (or TRA) is the body that assesses whether the skills of certain tradespeople on the Skilled Occupation List (SOL) are sufficient to be eligible for an Australia visa.

TRA processing times changed

As covered in a previous blog post, Trades Recognition Australia (TRA) recently made the following statement:

"Changes to Processing Times

From 1 July 2009 Trades Recognition Australia (TRA) will introduce additional quality assurance arrangements to improve the integrity of its assessments. As a result processing times will change.  It is expected that most applications will be assessed within 30 working days."

The processing times for TRA skills assessments used to typically be 10 working days for occupations listed on the Migration Occupations in Demand (MODL) list, and 20 working days for all other occupations, so the standard 30 working days for all applications is an important change.

New TRA application form

Additionally, they have stated that applications MUST be made using the new TRA application form, and any applications made using an old version of the form will NOT be accepted.

Changes from the ANMC

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Council (or ANMC) is the body that assesses whether the skills of internationally-qualified nurses are sufficient to be eligible for an Australia visa, and the news regarded changes to the English language requirements placed on all ANMC assessment applicants. They will be making a number of changes to their processes on 1 July.

ANMC English language requirement increased

There are English language requirements as part of the Australian visa basic requirements set by the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC), but we were alerted to the following recent addition to the 'Frequently Asked Questions' section of ANMC's website:

"CHANGES TO ENGLISH LANGUAGE TESTING REQUIREMENTS AS OF 1 JULY 2009 FOR ALL INTERNATIONALLY-QUALIFIED NURSES AND MIDWIVES

As of 1 July 2009, all internationally-qualified nurses and midwives applying for assessment to the ANMC under the general skilled migration scheme will be required to complete an English proficiency test. New Zealand registered nurses and midwives are exempt from providing English proficiency under the Trans Tasman Mutual Recognition Act 1997.

A pass level of 7 in all four bands of the IELTS Academic test or a B level in all four bands of the OET will be required in one sitting. The test will be valid for a period of two years."

Essentially, this announcement means that all nurses applying through the ANMC will be required to complete an academic English language test before lodging their skills assessment. For more information, refer to our previous blog post regarding the new English language requirements for nurses.

ANMC application fee increased and new ANMC application form 

Additionally, a new fee will apply to all ANMC applicants applying after 1 July, 2009.  The following fees will of July 1, 2009 the following fees will apply:

  • Full Assessment - AU$690.00
  • Modified Assessment - AU$210.00

Additionally, there will also be a new ANMC application form that must be used by all applicants from 1 July.

Changes from other Skills Assessing Bodies

While I've covered all the major changes that have been announced, it's still possible that the other major Australian Skills Assessing Bodies have changes planned. Further updates will be released on the blog as and when they happen.

- Lauren Mennie is Casework Department Manager for the Australian Visa Bureau

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

Australian immigration changes coming on 1 July - DIAC changes

by Lauren 6/30/2009 1:26:00 PM

Australian immigration changes from DIAC are
coming on 1 July 2009.

While we've already covered a number of the Australian immigration changes that are all set to come into action on 1 July, I think it's worth summarising all of the changes before they take effect.

From application fee increases and form amendments made by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) to skills assessing bodies changing their eligibility critera and Australian States and Territories adjusting their sponsorship lists, the changes are numerous and sure to have a lasting effect on Australian emigration.

I'll cover each of these changes in turn, beginning with a look at the changes that are coming from DIAC on 1 July and what effect they could have on the Australian skilled visa process:

Visa application charges increased

It was announced that as part of the Australian Government’s 2009/10 Budget, a number of visa application charges would be increased by as much as 20 per cent from 1 July 2009 (as covered in a previous blog post).

As a result of the Australian Government releasing Form 990i, we can now confirm that the skilled visa application fee will be AU$2,525 as of 1 July 2009.

Additionally, the application fees for spouse/family visas (i.e. subclasses 100, 110, 300, 309 and 310) saw the same 20 per cent increase, and rose from AU$1,420 to approx. AU$1,705.

The new visa application fees for some common skilled and family visas will be as follows:

  VISA TYPE
NEW FEE (AU DOLLARS)

  Skilled - Independent (subclass 175)

$2,525

  Skilled - Sponsored (subclass 176)

$2,525

  Skilled - Regional Sponsored (subclass 475)

$2,525

  Spouse (including de facto couples) (subclass 309/100)

$1,705

  Interdependent (subclasses 310/110)    

$1,705

  Prospective Marriage (subclass 300)

$1,705

  Contributory Parent – Migrant (subclass 143)

$1,705

  Contributory Parent – Temporary (subclass 173)

$1,705

  Child (subclass 101)

$1,705

  State/Territory Sponsored Business Owner (Provisional) (subclass 163)

$3,360

  New Zealand Citizen Family Relationship (subclass 461)

$230


Visa application forms changed 

Additionally, 1 July will also see a number of changes to DIAC forms.  The difference between these new forms and the old ones might be fairly minimal, but it is still advisable that any applicants make sure to use the right form when lodging, otherwise it may be returned and the process could be delayed.

For the full list of changed forms, check the DIAC site.

Assurance of Support

An Assurance of Support (AoS) is required to cover the primary visa applicant and other family members included in the application for some family sponsored visas, such as the Contributory Parent (subclasses 143/173) visa and occassionally the Spouse (subclasses 309/100) visa.

The AoS is a mandatory requirement which must be met prior to visa grant by the Australian citizen or permanent resident acting as an applicant's assurer. One of the criteria is that the assurer must meet a certain 'income threshold'.  The income threshold will be raised from 1 July and we are making the assumption that the assurer will have to earn more in order to qualify as an eligible assurer under the new criteria.

Increased English language requirement for tradespeople

Previously, skilled migration tradespeople who were NOT passport holders of the UK, Ireland, the US, Canada or New Zealand were required to achieve what was termed a 'vocational' level of English, which required a score at least 5.0 out of 9.0 in each of the 4 competencies (listening, reading, writing and speaking) of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test.

However, from 1 July 2009, the vocational level will cease to exist, and these same applicants must now score a higher score of at least 6.0 out of 9.0 in each of the 4 competencies (which is termed a 'competent' level of English).

Visa grants expedited by the Australian High Commission

In a recent communication with the Australian High Commission in London, the feedback we received was that they were holding off on granting any further visas until 1 July. After 1 July, we are hoping these visa grants should start steadily coming through.

- Lauren Mennie is Casework Department Manager for the Australian Visa Bureau

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

Queensland sponsorship list changes announced

by Lauren 6/29/2009 3:34:00 PM

A number of changes have been made to
the Queensland sponsorship lists.

In the midst of many updates to the Australian immigration process, the new Queensland Sponsorship Lists were announced today. Many changes were made to both the Permanent Sponsorship List (which applies to applicants for the Skilled Sponsored visa (subclass 176, State) visa) and the Provisional Sponsorship List (which applies to applicants for the Skilled Regional Sponsored visa (subclass 475, State) visa), with many occupations being remvoed.

Note: While these new Queensland Sponsorship Lists are now in effect, Queensland will honour any applications from occupations using the old Sponsorship Lists until 7 July.

The new sponsorship lists can be found by going direct to the Queensland government site pages linked below:

Alternatively, see below for tables showing all the occupations that have been removed and added to both lists:

Queensland Permanent Sponsorship List (subclass 176) changes

REMOVED FROM QUEENSLAND PERMANENT SPONSORSHIP LIST (SUBCLASS 176)
ADDED TO QUEENSLAND PERMANENT SPONSORSHIP LIST (SUBCLASS 176)

Quantity Surveyor

Engineering Manager

Mechanical Engineer

Electrical Engineer

Chemical Engineer

Anaesthetist

Computing Professional specialising in:

  • CISSP
  • Data Warehousing
  • J2EE
  • Java
  • Javascript
  • Networking and Internet Security
  • Sybase SQL Server

Dermatologist

Optometrist

Emergency Medicine Specialist

Secondary School Teacher (All)

Obstetrician and Gynaecologist

Urban and Regional Planner

Ophthalmologist

Environmental Health Officer

Paediatrician

Building Associate

Pathologist

Architectural Associate

Specialist Physician

Civil Engineering Associate

Psychiatrist

Civil Engineering Technician

Radiologist

Mechanical Engineering Associate

Surgeon

Mechanical Engineering Technician

Specialist Medical Practitioners (nec)

Chef

Registered Mental Health Nurse

Fitter

Registered Developmental Disability Nurse

Metal Machinist (First Class)

Occupational Therapist

Metal Fabricator

Speech Pathologist

Pressure Welder

 

Welder (First Class)

Sheet Metal Worker (First Class)

Motor Mechanic

Automotive Electrician

Panel Beater

General Electrician

Electrician (Special Class)

Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Mechanic

Carpenter and Joiner

Carpenter

Joiner

Fibrous Plasterer

Solid Plasterer

Wall and Floor Tiler

Stonemason

Floor Finisher

Baker


Queensland Provisional Sponsorship List (subclass 475) changes

QUEENSLAND PROVISIONAL SPONSORSHIP LIST (SUBCLASS 475)
ADDED TO QUEENSLAND PROVISIONAL SPONSORSHIP LIST (SUBCLASS 475)

Construction Project Manager

Mechanical Engineer

Project Builder

Production or Plant Engineer

Information Technology Manager

Optometrist

Architect

Secondary School Teacher - Mathematics

Surveyor

Secondary School Teacher - Science

Electronics Engineer

Fitter

Materials Engineer

Metal Machinist (First Class)

Aeronautical Engineer

Metal Fabricator

Biomedical Engineer

Pressure Welder

Industrial Engineer

Welder (First Class)

Accountant

 

Market Research Analyst

Advertising Specialist

Systems Manager

Systems Designer

Software Designer

Applications and Analyst Programmer

Systems Programmer

Computer Systems Auditor

Medical Practitioner:

  • Anaesthetist
  • Dermatologist
  • Emergency Medical Specialist
  • Obstetrician and Gynaecologist
  • Ophthalmologist
  • Paediatrician
  • Pathologist
  • Specialist Physician
  • Psychiatrist
  • Radiologist
  • Surgeon
  • Specialist Medical Practitioner (nec)

Registered Mental Health Nurse

Registered Developmental Disability Nurse

Dental Specialist

Industrial Pharmacist

Occupational Therapist

Speech Pathologist

Podiatrist

Dietitian

Pre Primary School Teachers

Vocational Education Teacher

Welfare Worker

Community Worker

Educational Psychologists

Organisational Psychologists

Legal Practitioner - Barrister

Legal Practitioner - Solicitor

Urban and Regional Planner

Surveying and Cartographic Associate

Plumbing Engineering Associate

Computing Support Technician

Parole or Probation Officer

Youth Worker

Residential Care Officer

Disability Services Officer

Family Support Worker

Ambulance Officer

Intensive Ambulance Paramedic

Locksmith

Vehicle Painter

Electrical Powerline Tradespersons

General Electronic Instrument Tradesperson

Electronic Instrument Tradesperson

Roof Slater and Tiler

Bricklayer

Painter and Decorator

General Plumber

Gas Fitter

Drainer

Roof Plumber

Mechanical Service and Aircon Plumber

Binder and Finisher

Cabinet Maker


There also seems to be some additional criteria that will apply, specifically relating to English language requirements (where an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test may be necessary for some applicants) and also to the work history for applicants in some listed occupations (which would be a new sponsorship critera for visa applicants looking to emigrate to Queensland through the state sponsorship route).

We are investigating into these changes and well provide updates as and when we have them.

- Lauren Mennie is Casework Department Manager for the Australian Visa Bureau

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

Australian skills assessing bodies update - ISA goes into voluntary liquidation

by Tom 6/22/2009 4:40:00 PM

Skills assessing bodies

Surveyors emigrating to Australia
are without an assessing body.

Just a quick update to notify any Surveyors (ASCO: 2123-13) that the Institute of Surveyors Australia (ISA) has gone into voluntary liquidation (as you can see from the surprisingly blunt note on the top of the ISA website homepage). It's unclear what will happen to surveyors yet to receive their assessment results, but I imagine a solution will be presented by DIAC in due course.

Also, to avoid any confusion, I'd like to make it clear that Quantity Surveyors (ASCO: 2122-11) don't need to worry; they need to have their skills assessed by the Australian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (AIQS), who are still in operation

Even though the ISA only assess the skills of Surveyors and a handful of other Australia visa occupations (such as Cartographers), it's still a reminder of the harsh economic times we live in and an example of the difficulties many skills assessing bodies are having to face.

Another of the Australia skills assessing bodies we heard from over the weekend was Trades Recognition Australia (TRA). They made the following statement:

"Changes to Processing Times

From 1 July 2009 Trades Recognition Australia (TRA) will introduce additional quality assurance arrangements to improve the integrity of its assessments. As a result processing times will change.  It is expected that most applications will be assessed within 30 working days."

While it's not as concerning as ISA's news, it's still an indication of the strain that assessing bodies have been put under, especially given that the processing times for TRA skills assessments used to typically be 10 working days for occupations listed on the Migration Occupations in Demand (MODL) list, and 20 working days for all other occupations.

 - Tom Blackett is Online Editor for the Australian Visa Bureau

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

Priority visa processing for Australian emigration - here to stay until at least 2010

by Lauren 6/22/2009 11:34:00 AM

Australian skilled visa

Priority processing looks to be set as a fixed aspect
of the Australian emigration process.

Priority visa processing is a topic we keep going back to, but given the impact it's had on the Australian emigration process and that we've recently received an official update on priority processing from the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC), it still seems worth writing about.

I'm referring specifically to a piece of correspondence sent by DIAC to some applicants who are still in the process of lodging their application for General Skilled Migration. In it, DIAC made it very clear that priority visa processing is here to stay until at least the end of the program year in 2010.

The letter emphasised that visa applications will continue to be processed in the following order:

  1. Employer sponsorship;
  2. State or Territory sponsorship;
  3. An occupation on the Critical Skills List (CSL);
  4. An occupation on the Migration Occupations in Demand List (MODL); AND
  5. All other applications in date of lodgement order.

Unsurprisingly, employer and government sponsored visa applications will continue to be given the utmost priority, as well as applicants who are CSL-listed (i.e. Groups 1-3 on the processing priority order).

However, DIAC also stated the following in regards to when the other Groups would enter processing:

"It is unlikely at this stage that applications which fall in Groups 1-3 will be exhausted in the 2009-10 Migration Program year and processing of Groups 4 and 5 will be delayed until this has occurred."

Therefore, any Group 4 or 5 applicants will be forced to continue waiting for at least another year, unless they apply for and receive sponsorship from an Australian employer, State or Territory.

While this might be unfortunate news for the many Group 4 or 5 applicants who have been waiting for some hope from DIAC, it at least comes as a sign that priority processing is here to stay. One of the most difficult parts of working with the Australian emigration process is being unsure which parts of the process are permanent and those that are 'flash-in-the-pan' stop-gap initiatives.

With the assurance that priority processing will be fixed for at least the next year, this gives us the chance to work with it and help our clients continue through the process.

The DIAC correspondence also provided a good reminder for any Accountants or Computing Professionals who are applying for Australian emigration. Both these nominated occupations are CSL-listed, but are subject to further criteria. Remember though, it's not enough to just meet these criteria; you've got to make sure you let DIAC know too!

CSL criteria for Accountants 

Accountants (ASCO: 2211-11) are only eligible for Group 3 priority if they have:

  • Provided evidence of 'Proficient English'; OR
  • Completed a Professional Year in Australia through the Skilled Migration Internship Program Accounting (SMIPA) program.

Even though British, American, Canadian, New Zealand and Republic of Ireland passport holders are automatically assigned a level of 'Competent English', they are required to score 7.0 in each component of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test in order to demonstrate evidence of 'Proficient English'.

If you are an Accountant and you are now able to provide evidence of your IELTS test result with a score of at least 7.0 in each component, you can email DIAC directly or use the post lodgement enquiry system with this evidence attached to receive CSL status and be acknowledged as a Group 3 priority applicant.

CSL criteria for Computing Professionals

If your nominated occupation is Computing Professional (ASCO: 2231-79) but you do not have a MODL-listed computing specialisation, then you will not be eligible to be CSL-listed and receive Group 3 processing priority.

However, to make sure you don't 'fall between the cracks', make sure you let DIAC know that you have one of these specialistions by using the post lodgement enquiry system.

- Lauren Mennie is Casework Department Manager for the Australian Visa Bureau

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

Application fee increase confirmed - Australian skilled visa fee goes up to AU$2,525

by Lauren 6/19/2009 4:45:00 PM

Australian skilled visa

The application fee increase for the Australian
Skilled visa has been confirmed by DIAC.

When the announcement was made as part of the 2009-10 Budget that the fees were set to increase as of 1 July 2009, no confirmation was given regarding exactly which visa charges the increase would apply to.

Through thoroughly researching all the materials made available following the announcement, we predicted that the increase would apply to the visa application charges of skilled visas (i.e. subclasses 175, 176 and 475), and result in a full 20 per cent increase, leading to the skilled visa fee rising from AU$2,105 to AU$2,525.

Today, our prediction was proved correct through the formal release by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) today of Form 990i, which details all the application fees as they will be from 1 July and confirms that the skilled visa application fee will be AU$2,525 as of 1 July 2009.

Additionally, the application fees for spouse/family visas (i.e. subclasses 100, 110, 300, 309 and 310) saw the same 20 per cent increase, and rose from AU$1,420 to approx. AU$1,705.

Comparably, the fee increases for the skilled and spouse/family visa subclasses weren't quite as substantial as they were for other subclasses; for example, the contributory parent (migrant) visa subclass went from having a first instalment fee of AU$1,420 and second instalment fee of AU$32,725 to a first instalment fee of AU$1,705 and a second instalment fee of AU$34,330. As a result, it's essentially an increase of almost AU$2,000 per applicant (or approx. AU$3,500 for a couple).

I understand that this news will come as another source of frustration to our clients and the many applicants who will be affected by this price increase, but there's very little that can be done.

While the increased cost of emigrating to Australia can be avoided by ensuring you lodge your application so that it reaches DIAC before 1 July, there's no way that an applicant lodging after this date will be able to avoid the new fee structure.

- Lauren Mennie is Casework Department Manager for the Australian Visa Bureau

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

Increased English language requirements for skilled migration tradespeople coming July 1

by Lauren 6/19/2009 12:06:00 PM

Skilled migration tradespeople

From 1 July, increased English language
requirements will be set in place for tradespeople.

One issue that we covered briefly upon its announcement as part of our blog on the 2009/10 Australian budget is the increased English language requirement for applicants for Australian visas who work in trades-related occupations.

Previously, skilled migration tradespeople who were NOT passport holders of the UK, Ireland, the US, Canada or New Zealand were required to achieve what was termed a 'vocational' level of English, which required a score at least 5.0 out of 9.0 in each of the 4 competencies (listening, reading, writing and speaking) of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test.

However, from 1 July 2009, the vocational level will cease to exist, and these same applicants must now score a higher score of at least 6.0 out of 9.0 in each of the 4 competencies (which is termed a 'competent' level of English). While additional restrictions are being applied to many aspects of the visa application process, the removal of English language concessions for tradespeople does raise some questions that the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) haven't yet addressed.

As far as I have seen, the only public remarks they have made on the changes are as follows (as sourced from this page on the DIAC website):

"The aim of the GSM Program is to select migrants who, because of the skills they possess, are more likely to find skilled employment shortly after they arrive in Australia. A high level of English language ability is recognised as being essential for achieving this objective.

The English language requirement for GSM applicants nominating a trade occupation will be increased to a minimum of 6.0 (Competent English) in each of the four components of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test. This increase in the IELTS score brings the English language requirement for trade occupations in line with other occupations for GSM visas, with trade occupations previously exempt from GSM changes introduced in September 2007."

While DIAC's arguments that they are trying to improve the employability of new migrants and are simply bringing the English language requirements for tradespeople in line with other occupations has some merit, it still feels like more justification is needed.

For example, is the English language level being raised due to a safety factor? It's possible that tradespeople without good English language skills could be perceived as a hazard, given the inherent danger present on any building site or workplace where power tools are used and the necessity for clear, concise communication at all times in such situations.

However, at the moment, there is so much room for interpretation that it's very hard for us to know exactly what sparked the changes.

Regardless of whether DIAC give any further reasoning for their decision, the fact remains that after 1 July, it is going to be much harder for many skilled workers to demonstrate their eligibilty for an Australian visa when they would have previously qualified. There's little advice that I can give, except to emphasise how important it is for anyone who might be affected to lodge their Australian visa application ASAP, if possible.

- Lauren Mennie is Casework Department Manager for the Australian Visa Bureau

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

Off-list nomination explained: What the states and territories are saying

by Tom 6/18/2009 3:10:00 PM

We looked at off-list state nomination as part of yesterday's blog, and covered the approach that Western Australia are taken to this relatively new initiative. Unfortunately, not every Australian state and territory has been as receptive to the process, but most have at least provided an official statement on their approach to off-list nomination.

See below for the official statements on off list nomination from each Australian state and territory:
WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Official statement:

"Skilled migrants seeking State Sponsorship for an off-list occupation must meet the general Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) skilled visa criteria and the Western Australian State Sponsorship requirements. Greater consideration will be given to applicants who:

  • Have a job or offer of employment in Western Australia in a Skilled Occupation List (SOL) occupation (must be related to the nominated occupation);
  • Have established links to the State - living, studied or have support in Western Australia;
  • Demonstrate that their occupation is in demand in Western Australia; OR
  • Are prepared to live and work in a regional area of the State.

Off-list nominations will be assessed by the SMC on a case-by-case basis and the ability of the applicant to meet Western Australia's workforce skill shortages."

Note from Visa Bureau: Even though Western Australia have a set criteria for applicants who will be given 'greater consideration', they will still accept and consider other well-presented applications.


VICTORIA

Official statement:

"Victoria’s off-list nominations have been incorporated into our Eligibility Lists.

Please note that there is no separate process for off-list nominations and all applicants for Skilled – Sponsored visa nomination by the Victorian Government must nominate occupations from Victoria's Skilled – Sponsored Eligibility Lists.

For the Skilled – Regional Sponsored visa, you must have either:

  • An occupation on the Skilled – Regional Sponsored (475 or 487) Eligibility List or
  • An offer of employment from a regional Victorian employer in any occupation on the DIAC Skilled Occupations List."


SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Official statement:

"Off-List Sponsorships – Policies for this option are currently being finalised.  When the Policies and Procedures have been completed they will be published on our website.  No information is available and applications are not being accepted at the moment."


QUEENSLAND

Official statement:

"The Queensland Government is now able to nominate applicants for some occupations that do not appear on the Queensland Eligible Skills List.

The Off-List Nomination Program has been developed to target skills needed for:

  • Queensland priority industries;
  • Research priorities; OR
  • Other specialised areas of priority for Government.

Nominations will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Applicants must meet the general Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship skilled visa criteria as well as Queensland state nomination requirements.

The application must be accompanied by a firm, long-term job offer by an employer in one of the targeted areas.

The application must also include:

  • The employer's description of the proposed or current employment; AND
  • A written declaration by the employer that the skill is likely to be in demand over the long-term.

Please note: Queensland off-list nominations will only be considered for occupations in high demand that meet the above criteria."


NEW SOUTH WALES

Official statement:

"The decision has been taken to assess applications for sponsorship based on the occupations listed on our website and any additional sponsorship (from the 500 places) will still be based on those occupations.  A number of factors including the current economic situation in NSW were taken into account in making this decision, in fact a number of occupations have recently been removed from both the skilled and regional migration lists as employment opportunities have been reduced."


NORTHERN TERRITORY

Official statement:

"Such ‘Off-List’ nominations will be considered if:

  • Your skilled occupation is listed on the Northern Territory’s Occupation Shortage List (www.migration.nt.gov.au), or you are otherwise able to demonstrate your employability in the Northern Territory; 
  • You have successfully completed a migration eligible two year course at any Charles Darwin University campus in the Northern Territory; OR
  • You have strong demonstrable family, friendship or other connections in the Northern Territory."

TASMANIA

Official statement:

"Tasmania’s policy on using these 500 ‘off-list’ places allows applicants to apply only if their occupation appears on the Supplementary Eligible Occupations List." 

Note from Visa Bureau: Currently, the Tasmania Supplementary Eligible Occupations List is very limited, with only two occupations on it at the time of writing.


AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY (ACT)

There have been no official statements or announcements made by the Australian Capital Territory pertaining to off-list nominations.

However, should they make an official decision on how off-list nomination will be used, it will most likely be made available on the ACT skilled migration website.

What changes to off list nomination can be expected?

Until all states and territories take a transparent approach to off list nomination, it will always be difficult gauging exactly what their individual position is. Even though all of this information is current as of today, more changes are always possible, especially given how relatively new off list nomination is to the process.

Therefore, we advise that all applicants unsure of which state sponsored Australian visas they are eligible for to check each state and territory's migration site on a regular basis for more information. The casework department is always monitoring the situation, and as a result, we are poised to offer our clients alternative migration pathways as and when they become open to us.

- Tom Blackett is Online Editor for the Australian Visa Bureau

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

Off-list state nomination - get a 'free kick' at an Australian skilled visa

by Stephanie 6/17/2009 2:18:00 PM

Earlier this year, the Australian Government released 4,000 off-list nominations nationwide, which are informally known as 'free kicks'. The off-list nominations are divided equally between the six states and two territories that make up Australia, with each state and territory given 500 of these places to help provide Australian skilled visas and fill gaps in the skilled workforce.

What are 'free kicks'?

Each Australian state and territory has a list of occupations that they can nominate for an Australian Skilled Sponsored Visa (subclass 176) or a Regional Sponsored Visa (subclass 475). Previously, the states and territories were restricted to only being able to nominate occupations on these lists, but with the introduction of off-list state sponsorship, they now have the freedom to nominate 500 'off-list' skilled workers a year.

These 'free kicks' give every state and territory the ability to nominate a certain number of off-list skilled workers for an Australian skilled worker, although the worker must still have an occupation listed on the Skilled Occupations List (SOL).

How are these 'free kicks' allocated?

Applications for the 500 free kicks are assessed on an individual basis, and each state is free to set their own criteria. The 100 point pass-mark on the Australian visa points test still has to be reached for the permanent visa, but it is now possible to be nominated in an occupation that is not listed as in demand.

Importantly for the Australian skilled visa applicant, the state or territory nomination means a quicker route through the immigration process at a time when many migrants have had their general skilled migration applications pushed to the bottom of the pile.

What is the attitude of the various Australian states and territories to 'free kicks' and off-list state sponsorship?

Each state and territory has approached the off-list state sponsorship differently. Western Australia is one state that has a proactive policy towards the off-list nomination initiative, being enthusiastic and transparent in its approach.

Visa Bureau spoke recently to Genelle Surace, a senior migration officer from the Western Australian Government, who helped answer some questions about their policies towards off-list nomination.

Australian skilled visa

Western Australia is one state which is embracing
off-list state nomination as a "fantastic tool".

What has been Western Australia’s policy towards the 500 off-list nomination initiative?

Genelle Surace: "Western Australia has always had a very open policy towards migration, and this is reflected in our attitude towards the off-list nomination. The off-list nominations are a fantastic tool to attract people to Western Australia, who may not be on our list for State Sponsorship, yet still have skills and experience that are sought after by Western Australian employers. It also allows people who have family in Western Australia to apply for State Sponsorship, and under the current guidelines for priority processing from DIAC, have their visa applications processed."

WA has the fastest growing population than any other state – could this be a result from a more aggressive approach to skilled migration?

Genelle Surace: "Part of the answer to this is attributed to our migration promotions, but with an enviable climate, great job opportunities and long term prospects, Western Australia is a great all-round choice for people to start their new lives in Australia."

Has WA had a good response to the off-list nomination, and has it been encouraged to nominate skills that are not found on the Critical Skills List to give other skilled migrant hopefuls a chance?

Genelle Surace: "Western Australia has had a good response to the off-list nomination, and is nominating occupations that are not on the Critical Skills List (CSL). When assessing an application for off-list nomination, greater consideration is given to applicants who:

  • Have a job or offer of employment in Western Australia in a SOL occupation (must be related to the nominated occupation);
  • Have established links to the State – having lived, studied or have support in Western Australia;
  • Demonstrate that their occupation is in demand in Western Australia; OR
  • Are prepared to live and work in a regional area of the State.

Off-list nominations will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and the ability of the applicant to meet Western Australia’s workforce skill shortages."

However, while Western Australia have taken a very open, positive attitude towards off-list state nomination, the case isn't the same for all states and territories.  Look out for a follow-up blog in the next few days where we discuss the attitudes of the other states and territories and the reasons why some choose not to use their 500 'free kicks' at all.

- Stephanie Bradley is Content and Communications Editor for the Australian Visa Bureau

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.