Overclaiming points on a skilled visa application – Inadvertent errors on an Expression of Interest

Visa applications lodged by intending migrants under Australia’s general skilled migration program are subject to a points test.

The process of obtaining a general skilled visa involves submitting an Expression of Interest, in which the applicant provides details, including information that generates a points score.

Invitations to apply for a skilled visa are then issued periodically – typically every fortnight – by the Department of Immigration, based on the nominated occupation and the number of points claimed.

Once the invitation has been accepted – and Visa Application Charges paid to the Department of Immigration – the application will be assessed by a delegate of the Department.

In the context of the points test, the visa applicant must meet both of the following requirements:

> The assessed score must be at least equal to the score stated in the invitation to apply for the visas, and

> The assessed score must meet the pass mark applicable to the visa for which s/he was invited to apply.

Department of Immigration policy advises that ” … because invitations are ranked and issued on the basis of the declared skills and attributes and nominated occupations included in the intending migrant’s EoI, and to preserve the integrity of the invitation process, applicants must demonstrate that the indicative score on which they were invited to apply is at least equal to their assessed score against points test factors. If the indicative score is less than the assessed score, (the) visa criteria cannot be satisfied.”

In other words, if an applicant for a skilled visa claims points to which s/he is not entitled the application criteria are not met, and the visa application must be refused.

Department of Immigration policy does though contain the following commentary in the context of “inadvertent errors”:

The department has become aware of cases where persons have made inadvertent errors when entering data in SkillSelect resulting in the person being given a higher invitation score than they should otherwise have. Although, to reduce the likelihood of such errors occurring, the department has significantly improved the information in SkillSelect, some persons may still make inadvertent errors in their EoIs.

To address this issue, consideration can be given to correcting an applicant’s invitation score if the department identifies that an applicant has made an inadvertent error in their EOI and their corrected invitation score would have been high enough such that it would have resulted in an invitation being made in the initial or subsequent SkillSelect invitation rounds.

For example, if:

> an affected applicant’s invitation score was 75, and
> the lowest invitation scores for the relevant period were 75, 70 and 65 respectively,

the applicant’s corrected invitation score must be no less than 65 before the Department would seek to correct the invitation score.

Officers must first seek the permission of the affected applicant before correcting the applicant’s invitation score.

These provisions are generous – in our opinion over claiming points on the EoI must lead to a refusal due to a failure to meet the Migration Regulations, and the unfortunate loss of Visa Application Charges paid to the Department of Immigration.

Indeed, while some applicants may need to rely on the “inadvertent error” provisions it would clearly be preferable for the points claimed in the EoI to be correct.

We therefore recommend that great care is exercised when claiming points under the skilled visa points test – particularly in respect of skilled work experience; in our dealings with skilled visa applications this is the area in which most visa applicants make incorrect claims.

If you have a skilled occupation, are interested in discussing a skilled visa strategy, are unsure about the points test, and would like some assistance in preparing and lodging an Expression of Interest with the Department of Immigration please contact us – complete the form on the right hand side of this page or telephone your nearest Go Matilda Visas office.

We have many years of experience helping skilled individuals move to Australia and we’ll be pleased to help.

Our fees are fixed in amount, and are payable as the application progresses – or in interest free instalments if that better suits your personal cash flow.