Changes to General Skilled Migration

Calls to reform Australian Immigration System

Last Minute Changes to General Skilled Migration to Affect both Onshore and Offshore Applicants from 1 January 2010

by Mark Webster, Acacia Immigration Australia, 17 December 2009

Legislation has been released on Comlaw on the 15th of December to affect both onshore and offshore applicants for General Skilled Migration. These changes have not yet been published on the DIAC website or discussed with the Migration Institute of Australia.
Onshore Applicants
From 1 January 2010, changes have been made to the skills assessment requirement for onshore applicants for the following subclasses:

* 885: Skilled Independent (Permanent)
* 886: Skilled Sponsored (Permanent)
* 487: Skilled Regional Sponsored (3-year provisional)

These are the main visa subclasses accessed by international students applying for further stay in Australia after completion of their studies.

All applicants for the above visas must provide a suitable skills assessment at the date of lodgement to make a valid application from 1 January 2010. Currently, it is sufficient to lodge the visa application with evidence that the skills assessment has been applied for, provided the skills assessment is positive by the time the visa application is assessed by the Department of Immigration.

In addition, provision has been made in the new legislation to require applicants to provide a skills assessment which has been completed on or after 1 January 2010 for certain gazetted occupations. As yet, the list of occupations is not yet available but we will provide details as soon as possible. However, it seems likely that the changes are likely to affect trade occupations and possibly those assessed by VETASSESS.

Note that the above changes do not affect subclass 485 Graduate Skilled visas as this is the 18-month temporary residence visa available to students studying in Australia for at least 2 years. It will still be possible to apply for this the graduate skilled visa prior to completion of the skills assessment, and there is no provision for the Department of Immigration requesting a recent skills assessment either.

As a result, most international students will most likely need to apply for a Graduate Skilled visa to allow them to remain in Australia whilst their skills assessment is being finalized so that they can then apply for a longer stay skilled visa.

International students with skills assessments completed prior to 1 January 2010 may need to get their skills re-assessed ahead of applying for their long stay skilled visa.
Offshore Applicants
Work experience requirements have been changed for the following offshore applications:

* 175: Skilled Independent (Migrant)
* 176: Skilled Sponsored (Migrant)
* 475: Skilled Regional Sponsored (3-year provisional)

For gazetted occupations, all applicants must show recent work experience in the occupation. Currently, it is possible to qualify by showing at least 12 of the last 24 months of work experience in any skilled occupation, and a waiver of the work experience requirement is available for international students completing studies of 2 years or more in Australia.

Again, the list of affected occupations has not yet been gazetted by the Department of Immigration.

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