The Australian Government has amended the Migration Regulations 1994 (Cth) with effect from 1 July 2017. The new regulations affect the temporary and permanent skilled migration programs. Some of the changes are retrospective, so they affect applicants who have submitted applications but whose applications have not yet been decided.
With effect from 1 July 2017:
- Occupation List Changes – numerous occupations have been added and removed from the List of Eligible Occupations
- Lower age ceiling for certain visa applications
- Amendments to the English Language Requirement
- Removal of Skills and English Language Exemptions
- Expansion of ‘genuine need’ test to Employer Nomination Scheme and Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme TRT stream
- Increased visa and nomination application charges payable to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection
A summary of the main changes follows below:
Occupation List Changes
Multiple occupations have been removed from the List of Eligible Occupations, which comprises the STSOL (Short Term Skilled Occupation List) and MLTSSL (Medium and Long Term Skilled Occupation List). The List of Eligible Occupations is used for the following employer sponsored visa programs:
- subclass 457 temporary work visa program; and
- subclass 186 permanent work visa (ENS).
A number of new occupations have been added to the List of Eligible Occupations.
Caveats on occupations have been extended to the Employer Nomination Scheme Permanent Residency Program, in addition to the subclass 457 visa program.
Lower age ceiling
Visa applicants for the Employer Nomination Scheme and Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme Direct Entry stream must be under the age of 45 years. Applicants over the age of 45 years may need to consider other visa pathways to remain in Australia.
Changes to English Language Testing requirements
From 1 July 2017, visa applicants for Employer Sponsored Permanent Residency under the Temporary Residence Transition stream will require an increased level of English Language Ability. The increased level of English Language Ability is measured by performance in an English Test, such as IELTS or PTE Academic.
Applicants for these visas must be able to demonstrate a minimum score of at least 6.0 in the IELTS Test in order to be eligible to apply.
Our recommendation: Applicants may need more time to prepare and obtain the higher results required. They should therefore initiate the application preparation process as early as possible and consider undertaking the different tests accepted by the Department of Immigration as the testing methodology varies.
Removal of Skills and English Language exemptions
Prior to 1 July 2017, applicants for Employer Sponsored Permanent Residency Visas did not have to undertake any English Test or Skills Assessment where their nominated earnings were at least $180,001 per annum.
From 1 July 2017, this exemption has been removed and is retrospective. This means that all new applications, and applications lodged but not yet decided, are affected by the removal of the exemption.
Applicants must undertake a Skills Assessment and obtain a positive result, and undertake an English Exam and obtain the prescribed score, in order to be eligible for these visas.
Our recommendation: Due to the time it may take to obtain these assessments, and obtain the required results, we highly recommend all prospective applicants to start the process as early as possible.
Genuine Need test
A new regulatory requirement has been introduced so that employers must demonstrate to the Department of Immigration that they have a ‘genuine need’ for the person to work in the nominated position.
Providing evidence of genuine need has always been required for Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme visas, but has now been extended to all Employer Nominated Permanent Residency visas.
The amended regulation provides the Department of Immigration with an additional criteria to assess applications and control usage of the program.
Recommendation: Our team will review the policy around this new regulation and provide advice to our clients on a case-by-case basis on the type and nature of evidence require.
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