All posts by Alan Collett

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.

Latest Skilled Visa Invitation Round Shows High Points Threshold Needed

We find ourselves halfway through the 2017/18 program year for Australian skilled visas.  

What is the trend with visa invitations, what can those awaiting a skilled visa invitation reasonably expect, and what does this mean for those trying to work out a skilled visa strategy?

The latest skilled visa invitation rounds reveal the Department of Immigration is presently working to a relatively high points threshold when issuing invitations for subclass 189 Skilled Independent and subclass 489 Skilled Family Sponsored visas.

To recap, some time after lodging an Expression of Interest (EoI) for each of these visa types the Department of Immigration will issue an invitation to apply for a visa.

The amount of time from EoI submission to the issuing of the invitation to apply will depend on several variables, including:

  • The occupation being nominated
  • The points claimed – more points claimed on the EoI means a visa invitation is more likely to be forthcoming
  • The number of other EoIs lodged – where points claimed are the same EoIs lodged earlier will have preference

A key issue to remember is the need for points claimed to be sustainable, particularly in the context of skilled work experience.

Over claiming points for skilled work experience is not a sensible strategy, and in a worse case scenario can lead to a refusal of the visa application and the loss of all Visa Application Charges paid to the Department of Immigration.

The results from the last two invitation rounds are available here:

These show invitations only being issued to applicants with a minimum of 70 points .

The last invitation round where those with 65 points were invited to apply was on 18 October, 2017.

There have been no invitations so far during the current program year (which commenced  on the 1st of July 2017) to subclass 189 Skilled Independent visa applicants with 60 points.

By contrast, in the second half of the previous 2016/17 program year invitations were forthcoming in almost all invitation rounds to those with 60 points.

What can we reasonably conclude from this?

It appears that in the first 6 months of the program year the Department of Immigration is focusing on EoIs with 70+ points.

Once we get into a new calendar year EoIs with 60 and 65 points are far more likely to receive an invitation for a skilled visa under subclass 189.

Our recommendation to those who have an expectation of being granted 60 or 65 points in the skilled visa points test and who are looking at a subclass 189 Skilled Independent visa strategy is therefore to be in a position to lodge the EoI with the Department of Immigration in the next 3 to 4 months (if not lodged already), to allow sufficient time to receive a visa invitation to be issued and accepted before the end of the 2017/18 program year on 30 June, 2018.

Given applicants must have a Migration Skills Assessment in place before they lodge the EoI – and should have supporting documentation available to provide comfort as to the points being claimed (eg English language test results, skilled work experience documentation) now is the time to make progress on your skills assessment application and your English language test, if you are an intending subclass 189 Skilled Independent visa applicant, and don’t have them in place already.

Go Matilda Visas will be delighted to assist with your planned skilled visa application – please complete the enquiry form on this page if you think you might like the assistance of a professional firm of Australian visa advisors.

Our fees are fixed in amount, are agreed with you in advance, and can be paid in stages as your visa application progresses.