Skilled Visas – Invitations to be issued less frequently

The Department of Home Affairs has announced that invitations to apply for skilled visas will now be issued once a month, rather than every two weeks.

Under the points test skilled migration program in Australia those who want to move to Australia and who have a skilled occupation submit an Expression of Interest, after having secured a migration skills assessment.

Having lodged an EoI for the points tested subclass 189 (Skilled Independent) and 489 (Skilled – Family Sponsored) pathways invitations are issued to intending migrants based on the points claimed, the occupation nominated, and the date the EoI was submitted.

In so doing the Australian Government can limit visas to those with the most points – who tend to be those with most experience and who are in their late 20s/early 30s – and to those who have good English language skills.

This is known as the SkillSelect model.

Since the SkillSelect model was introduced EoIs have been issued every two weeks.

The Department of Home Affairs has announced today that EoIs will be issued on the 11th of each month:

SkillSelect invitation rounds for Skilled – Independent (subclass 189) and Skilled – Regional Provisional (subclass 489) will occur once each month, on the 11th day of each month, effective 11 August 2018.

There is no change to the overall number of invitations provided each month.

Skilled Visa Pass Mark Increasing to 65 Points

The points required to be eligible for a skilled visa are increasing to 65 points from 60 for visa invitations that are issued from the 1st of July, 2018.

Applications lodged in respect of invitations that were issued before this date will remain subject to the current requirement of 60 points.

The subclasses of visa to which this requirement applies are:

  • 189, Skilled Independent
  • 190, Skilled Sponsored
  • 489, Skilled Regional Sponsored

The components of the skilled visa points test are discussed here.

An additional 5 points are available for a State sponsored subclass 190 visa; 10 points are available for State sponsorship or family sponsorship under subclass 489.

New Visa Application Charges from 1st July, 2018 – Skilled Visa Applications

The Department of Immigration has announced the new scale of 1st Visa Application Charges that are taking effect from the 1st of July, 2018.

Charges for skilled visa applications are increasing as follows:

  • Main applicant – A$3,755 currently A$3,670
  • Secondary applicants aged 18 or more – A$1,875 currently A$1,835
  • Secondary applicants aged under 18 – A$940 currently A$920

These VACs are payable when the visa application is lodged with the Department of Home Affairs.

The Explanatory Memorandum to the Regulations which introduces the increases advises:

… the Regulations amend the Migration Regulations to increase first instalment VACs for a number of visas. On 1 July 2017, most VACs were indexed in accordance with the 2017-18 forecast consumer price index (CPI).  The Regulations increase the majority of VACs so that they are increased by the 2018‐19 forecast CPI.  In effect, this means that the relevant VACs are increased from their baseline 2016-17 amounts by the cumulative total of the 2017-18 and 2018-19 increases. It is intended that these indexation amendments will be made on an annual basis in future.

Yet another Skilled Occupations List – the Regional Occupations List!

Yet another skilled occupations list has been published!

This one is the Regional Occupations List, or ROL.

The following occupations are on the ROL and can only be sponsored by State and Territory Governments under visa subclass 489:

  • Horse breeder, ANZSCO Code 121316
  • Public relations manager, 131114
  • Policy and planning manager, 132411
  • Project builder, 133112
  • Procurement manager, 133612
  • Medical administrator, 134211
  • Regional education manager, 134412
  • Sports administrator, 139915
  • Caravan park and camping ground manager, 141211
  • Post office manager, 142115
  • Amusement centre manager, 149111
  • Fitness centre manager, 149112
  • Sports centre manager, 149113
  • Cinema or theatre manager, 149912
  • Financial institution branch manager, 149914
  • Human resource adviser, 223111
  • Workplace relations adviser, 223113
  • Policy analyst, 224412
  • Liaison officer, 224912
  • Market research analyst, 225112
  • Aeroplane pilot, 231111
  • Flying instructor, 231113
  • Helicopter pilot, 231114
  • Ship’s master, 231213
  • Multimedia designer,232413
  • Wine maker, 234213
  • Conservation officer, 234311
  • Community arts worker, ANZSCO Code 272611
  • Agricultural technician, 311111
  • Operating theatre technician, 311214
  • Pathology collector, 311216
  • Construction estimator, 312114
  • Surveying or spatial science technician, 312116
  • Mechanical engineering draftsperson, 312511
  • Safety inspector, 312611
  • Maintenance planner, 312911
  • Building and engineering technicians (nec), 312999
  • Vehicle painter, 324311
  • Floor finisher, 332111
  • Electrical linesworker, 342211
  • Zookeeper, 361114
  • Nurseryperson, 362411
  • Gas or petroleum operator, 399212
  • Dental hygienist, 411211
  • Dental therapist, 411214
  • Emergency service worker, 441211
  • Driving instructor, 451211
  • Funeral workers (nec), 451399
  • Flight attendant, 451711
  • First aid trainer, 451815
  • Jockey, 452413
  • Clinical coder, 599915
  • Property manager, 612112
  • Real estate representative, 612115

These occupations are in addition to the occupations on the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (the MLTSSL) and the Short-term Skilled Occupation List (the STSOL).

In other words, the above occupations can only be sponsored for a skilled visa by a State or Territory Government under provisional skilled visa subclass 489.

Whether any of these occupations will find their way onto the lists of occupations that can be sponsored by State and Territory Governments under subclass 489 remains to be seen.

To recap, a subclass 489 visa is a provisional visa, requiring the visa holder to live and work in a regional area of Australia (as defined – eg all of SA, all of TAS, outside Sydney/Wollongong in NSW, all of Victoria outside the Melbourne metro area, all of Qld outside Brisbane and the Gold Coast), everywhere except Perth and surrounding areas in WA; after the visa holder has lived in a regional area for 2 years and has worked there for 12 months progress to a permanent residency visa is available under subclass 887.

Thus a subclass 489 visa is the first step in a two stage pathway to permanent residency.

Skilled Visas for Tradies – Quick Guide as to Strategy

It isn’t easy to see how the various stages in the skilled visa application process fit together.

So here is a quick guide, specially written for skilled trades people in the UK that want to move to Australia.

  • If you don’t have a qualification that is relevant to your trade already – and even if you do this can make the application process easier – obtain an Australian qualification (an AQF Certificate III) in your occupation.   This usually involves submission of documents, followed by a practical test.   The practical can often be done at various places in the UK – we work with all of the assessing bodies that assess practicals in the UK.
  • Apply for a Migration Skills Assessment from Trades Recognition Australia (TRA) – if this isn’t available from one of the assessors in the UK.
  • Obtain formal confirmation of your skilled work experience, also from TRA – known as Migration Points Assessment. (MPA)   Although the MPA isn’t mandatory, we generally recommend this is done, as it provides comfort  when claiming points for skilled work experience under the skilled visa points test.   In this regard, remember that over claiming points when lodging the Expression of Interest (see below) can mean the visa application is refused, leading to a loss of Visa Application Charges paid to the Department of Immigration.
  • Undertake a test of English language competency.   This is usually required to improve the points claimed for English language ability in the skilled visa points test.
  • Lodge an Expression of Interest with the Department of Immigration through ImmiAccount.
  • Seek State sponsorship, if progressing your visa application via a subclass 190 or 489 Skilled State sponsored pathway.
  • Obtain an invitation from the Department of Immigration to lodge your visa application.
  • Accept the visa application, lodge documents, and proceed to visa grant.

The same process is broadly followed by those with other skilled occupations.

Note that State sponsorship can speed up the visa application process, by ensuring that a visa invitation from the Department of Immigration is issued quickly compared with an application for a subclass 189 Skilled Independent visa application.

A subclass 189 visa application does not require sponsorship by a State Government or a family member already residing in Australia.

Invitations from the Department of Immigration to apply for subclass 189 Skilled Independent and subclass 489 Skilled Family Sponsored visa applications can take longer – often several months longer – to be issued.

In this regard we recommend that intending skilled migrants look at the requirements of each State as to sponsorship after they have secured a positive Migration Skills Assessment: these requirements can change, so it is best to review visa strategy again when lodging the Expression of Interest with the Department of Immigration .

Note that not all of the States sponsor all occupations.

A subclass 190 visa is a permanent residency visa.

A subclass 489 Skilled Regional Sponsored visa is a provisional visa, requiring each visa holder to live and work in a regional area of Australia (as defined – eg all of TAS/SA, outside a metro area of Brisbane/Gold Coast in Qld, outside metro Melbourne in VIC, outside Sydney and Wollongong in NSW.

After the principal 489 visa holder has lived in a regional area for 2 years and has worked there for 12 months s/he can progress to a permanent residency visa under subclass 887.

In other words, a subclass 489 visa is the first step in a two stage pathway to permanent residency.