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Taking stock of the Australian visa changes and looking ahead at what's to come.

by Matt 28/04/2010 15:11:00

More Australian immigration
changes are on the horizon

The last twelve months have been a turbulent time for Australian immigration policy. We've seen change upon change announced by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC), as the Australian government continues to restructure its Australian visa legislation and processing structure to best reflect its economic needs and skill shortages.

While some policies, schemes and lists are phased out, and other new policies are considered and introduced, the effect on individual applicants can often be confusing and frustrating.

That's why I'd like to clarify the upcoming changes that are most pressing for anyone preparing to lodge an Australian skilled visa application. It's vital that any Australian visa applicant be aware of what they need to do right well and the timeframe within which they have to do it, in order to avoid being caught out by policy changes that might affect their skilled visa eligibility.

While you may already be aware of much of this, I would still encourage that you read through and remind yourself of what you need to be getting on with right now.

What is happening with Australian immigration?

2010 is shaping up to be another year of substantial visa changes. DIAC have already removed the Migration Occupations in Demand List (MODL) from the skilled migration process, resulting in the elimination of any additional points granted to applicants in MODL occupations.

DIAC has also announced that they are preparing to introduce a new Skilled Occupation List (SOL) in 'mid 2010'. Currently, we are anticipating full details of the SOL to be released very soon, with a predicted date of 1 July, 2010 for its introduction (as this has typically been the case in previous years).

We are also awaiting the introduction of State Migration Plans, which are currently being drawn up between each individual Australian state and territory, DIAC, and the immigration minister. Beyond these specific changes, consultations continue to take place concerning a review of the points-based system.

In the midst of all this, states, territories and skills assessment bodies continue to adjust and tweak their policies and procedures. In a nutshell, as regular readers of the Visa Bureau blog will be all too aware, this is be a disconcerting time for those invested in the process.

Will I be affected by the changes?

Any change to legislation that affects your eligibility could have a direct and unavoidable impact on your ability to apply for an Australian skilled visa until your central visa application is submitted to DIAC.

There is a silver lining, however; in the recent past, DIAC have implemented changes with immediate effect and without any warning. On this occasion though, they have announced their intentions before introducing them.

As a result, applicants now have a window of opportunity in which to finalise any remaining elements of the application that need to be completed before lodging the main visa application itself.  Provided the application is then lodged before the changes are implemented, you should stand a better chance of avoiding any negative impact from legislation changes.

What should I do now?

Even though 1 July, 2010 is the time when we expect more changes to be implemented, it should not be treated as a definitive deadline by which to lodge your application. However, I would still advise all visa applicants to keep this date in mind and work quickly towards lodging their visa application.

Once you have received a positive skills assessment result and state sponsorship (if applicable), your focus should then be on completing and lodging your application as soon as possible.

- Matt Parker is a Caseworker 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.

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