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12 out of 24 - Work requirement removed from Australian immigration requirements

by Leonie 23/07/2012 15:15:00

As part of the changes which came into place at the beginning of the month, the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) has removed the requirement for skilled workers to have 12 months work experience in their nominated occupation in the last 24 months.

The Requirement

While applicants have always had to earn points by meeting certain requirements in order to reach a threshold which would allow them to move to Australia, the ’12 out of 24’ requirement did not earn an applicant any points and was simply an eligibility requirement which was needed regardless of how many points an applicant had earned.

The requirement was defined as an applicant being employed for at least 20 hours a week in their nominated occupation or another occupation on the Skilled Occupations List for at least 12 months at any time during the past two years.

The work undertaken in their nominated occupation could not be undertaken whilst studying for any required qualifications to meet the specified skill level and the work also had to have involved duties or tasks at the Australian standard of the occupation.

The Removal

DIAC have not specified their reasons for the change in policy but there are several advantages to applicants. For instance, a UK applicant in the struggling British economy could have the necessary skills, qualifications and experience for their nominated application but either because they have not been able to find employment or have been forced to work temporarily in another industry, the applicant faced the prospect of their relevant work experiencing ceasing to count toward their Australia visa application.

The same issue also applied to new mothers who were often pressured to rush back from maternity leave in order to avoid their experience becoming redundant.

What this means

This is less likely to apply to any applicant requiring state or territory nomination as applicants still have to meet any state specific and/or occupation specific requirements, which can relate to professional experience. This is likely to benefit some clients.

The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership’s assessment currently requires no professional experience while the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council requires just three months’ of professional experience in the past five years for accreditation, meaning nurses and teachers with little or no professional experience can meet the pass mark.

Barriers

If an applicant requires state or territory nomination to move to Australia, the Australian Visa Bureau advises them to check with the individual state or territory government’s own list of requirements for any that may differ from the national level. While most states and territories amend their immigration requirements in line with the federal level, it can take time for changes at the state or territory level to reflect those national changes.

Western Australia’s current level of requirements is designed to follow those stipulated at national level. However, if the Australian economy continues to slow down in its rapid growth rate as seen in the past quarter, the resources boom may begin to stabilise and competition for jobs may increase.

South Australia is a popular choice for applicants requiring state sponsorship and they continue to require applicants to have 12 months experience in the last two years. While this may change in time, applicants hoping to move to Adelaide or anywhere else in South Australia are advised to folllow old guidelines to be safe.

- Leonie Cotton is the Casework Department Manager at 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.

Australia's budget and what it means for Visa Bureau clients

by Leonie 15/05/2012 15:32:00

The Australian government delivered its budget for the next fiscal year last week and one of the main announcements was the expansion of the next year's skilled migration program.

Australia's federal budget contained
several changes regarding Australian 
immigration. 

How is the Australian skilled migration program being expanded?

The 2012-13 will include a targeted increase of 5,000 places in order to allow Australia to address several skills shortages which have emerged due to the continuing boom in the mining and construction industries.

"The measured increase of 5,000 places, from 185,000 to 190,000, comes in the context of significant skills gaps in both the short and medium term in certain sectors of our patchwork economy," said Immigration Minister Chris Bowen.

While the rapidly expanding mining and constructions industries have created the need for skilled workers in those industries, Australian workers in other industries leaving their current jobs for highly paid opportunities in construction or mining have left other gaps in other industries. The demand for many professions is growing but nursing, ICT and accountancy professionals in particular are continuing to see strong demand for their skills.

Mr Bowen explained that as many as 16,000 places within the migration program will be specifically allocated to the regional sponsored migration scheme for skilled workers to ensure that gaps in specific areas, such as Western Australia, are addressed.

Overseas workers who are entering the country specifically to work in shortage industries will be eligible under the new program to have their Australia visa application fast tracked in a high processing priority group.

"Skilled migrants are increasingly moving to growth regions and places where there is demand, they are complementing rather than competing with our domestic labour force,” said Mr Bowen.

"Our skilled migration program is driven by Australia's genuine skills needs and not simply by those who wish to become Australia residents. We believe we have the balance right."

Other Australia immigration changes

The budget also included an amendment to the health criteria within the migration assessment: potential migrants whose health assessments reveal health conditions which will require further or ongoing treatment risk having their Australia visa application denied if the cost of the treatment exceeds a ‘Significant Cost Threshold’.

The current Significant Cost Threshold is set at AU$21,000 (£13,064) in treatment costs per year; as of 1, July, this threshold will be increased to AU$35,000 (£21,794).

What positives are coming from the changes?

We at the Visa Bureau are pleased at the intentions outlined in Australia’s budget; expanding the skilled migration program while raising the threshold reaffirm Australia’s commitment to welcoming more skilled workers to the country and encouraging them to settle in Australia.

With the expanding industries creating well paid positions combined with the resultant gaps left in other industries, the expansion of the program allows even more people the opoprtunity to help advance and benefit from Australia's continuing prosperity.

What negatives are coming from the changes? 

In an effort to ensure the General Skilled Migration Program (GSM) is cost-effective, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) will also begin charging AU$70 (£43.57) for placing visa labels in passports as of 1, July.

While this is primarily a cost-saving measure, DIAC also hopes to encourage people to utilise the free online facility known as VEVO which allows users to check the credentials of a visa holder and therefore renders a physical passport label redundant.

We understand that DIAC wishes to make its processes as efficient as possible yet we appreciate that many of our clients feel more comfortable travelling through border security or conducting job interviews with physical evidence of their credentials. While this option is still available, we are disappointed that a cost will now be incurred.

- Leonie Cotton is the Casework Department Manager at 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.

Changes made to Australian migration agent regulations - make sure your agent is up to date

by Leonie 16/12/2011 13:55:00

The MARA Code of Conduct has
been updated for 1 January, 2012.

The Australian Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA) is the body that all onshore Australian migration agents are required to belong to, in order to provide Australia visa advice to potential applicants.

MARA is responsible for regulating migration agents and making sure that migration agents provide clients with the best possible service. Part of this is providing a Code of Conduct that agents must follow, which is updated on a semi-regular basis.

The latest updates to the Code of Conduct are scheduled to take effect on 1 January, 2012. You can download a copy of the new Code of Conduct here, but see below for a list of these changes, as well as a brief explanation for each of them:

Changes to the MARA Code of Conduct set to be made on 1 January, 2012

  • A requirement that notices and information to clients be in writing;

Note: A fairly simple one - this just means that in addition to information being conveyed by phone to clients, it will also need to be sent via email / post.

  • Removal of the statement in Clause 2.9 that “a Registered Migration Agent cannot be responsible for misinformation provided by a client”;

Note: Previously, if a client provided incorrect information as part of their visa application, it was possible for the blame to be placed solely on the client. However, this has now been removed, so an agent will now take responsibility for ensuring that all info provided by the client is accurate.

  • Removal of the words “seek to” from the statement in Clause 2.9A that “a Registered Migration Agent must not seek to mislead or deceive the Authority [MARA] whether directly or by withholding relevant information”;

Note: This is just a change to the semantics, really - the message remains the same, but with the removal of 'seek to', the clause that says an agent must be completely honest with a client is just made firmer.

  • Addition of “a review authority” to the Clause 2.19 requirement that “a Registered Migration Agent has a duty to provide sufficient relevant information to the Department to allow a full assessment of all the facts against the relevant criteria.” NB: This may be because of the number of review applications that are made without full submissions being provided;

Note: This addition has been made to accommodate for an independent review authority to be involved in the resolution of any disputed.

  • A requirement that Registered Migration Agents notify the Office of the MARA of changes to their registration details in advance, or within 14 days of the changes if advance notice would be unreasonable in the circumstances;

Note: This change has been made to ensure that MARA is aware of any changes to an agent's registration in advance, or as soon as possible.

  • A requirement that registered migration agents notify DIAC, Office of the MARA, any review authority and all current clients of any changes to the agent’s contact details in advance, or within 14 days of the changes if advance notice would be unreasonable in the circumstances;

Note: Again, this is a change that has been added to ensure that MARA is kept aware and up-to-date of an agent's details at all time and will be able to contact the agent when necessary.

  • Contracts with clients, now referred to as an "Agreement for Services and Fees", to include the services to be performed, the fees for the services, and the disbursements the agent is likely to incur as part of the services;

Note: This is a change designed to make the process of a client securing an agent's services as transparent as possible, so there is no confusion as to what services the fees will be for. 

  • Agents are not entitled to payment for immigration assistance unless the client has been given a statement that is consistent with the services, fees and disbursements in the Agreement for Services and Fees. The statement has to be an invoice or account which itemises each service performed and the fee for each service.

Note: This change is also designed to increase transparency and ensure that clients will only pay for work that has been performed by the agent.

What do these MARA changes mean? 

It's clear from these changes that MARA is doing its upmost to ensure that registered migration agents act in a responsible, transparent manner. It's also a reminder to any potential applicants for an Australia visa that the first thing they should do when choosing a migration agent is check whether they are registered with MARA.

At the Australian Visa Bureau, we currently have four registered migration agents on staff. You can find their details on our MARA page

Additionally, you can verify their registration status by going to the 'Find an Agent' section of MARA's website and search for them using their name, registration number or their place of work (i.e. Visa Bureau Ltd).

- Leonie Cotton 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.

Australia Visa Update: South Australia State Migration Plan released

by Leonie 06/01/2011 14:33:00
 

The South Australian State Migration Plan has
been announced.

The South Australian Government has released their State Migration Plan this week. There are 258 occupations on the state migration plan, some of which will be unique to South Australia.

There are 4,890 places available for the 2010/11 program year, but the South Australian government have yet to give us an exact indication how many of these have already been filled by pre-existing applications for sponsorship.

The full list of occupations that the South Australian Government is willing to sponsor can be viewed here. The new state migration plan is designed to help meet South Australia’s skilled workforce needs by targeting needed occupations that are eligible for state sponsorship.

How does the South Australia State Migration Plan differ to other State Migration Plans?

One of the key ways that South Australia's SMP differs from the majority of the other states is in the work experience requirements it places on applicants, as the majority of listed occupations only require 12 months work experience in the previous 24 months (as opposed to others who ask for up to 7 years previous work experience).

Additionally, the South Australia State Migration Plan will come as especially good news to primary school teachers, metal tradespeople, hairdressers and farriers, as individuals in these occupations had very limited state sponsorship options previously.

Unfortunately, many individuals in IT and engineering occupations will be unable to apply under the South Australia SMP at this time, as they are currently classified as 'not available' due to South Australia having already met their quota for a number of these occupations. Applicants within these occupations may be able to apply from 1 July, 2011 though, when the next program year begins.

However, if you have previously secured state sponsorship in an occupation that is now listed as 'not available' and you have already lodged your visa application, you will still be assigned a visa processing priority level of Priority Group 2, which means your application should be processed within 12 months.

In terms of IELTS requirements, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Canada, New Zealand and United States of America passport holders only need to provide an IELTS test result if the listed requirement is for IELTS 7.0 or higher.  Where the requirement is less than 7.0, no IELTS test result is necessary.

- Leonie Cotton is Assistant 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.