Australian Immigration News update
Reforms to the Permanent Employer Sponsored Visa Program
The Australian Government has announced reforms to the permanent employer-sponsored visa program to be introduced on 1 July 2012.
The reforms will improve the program’s ability to:
- meet Australia’s economic needs
- respond quickly to labour market demand
- ensure that limited program places go to those who will make the greatest contribution to Australia.
Skilled Migration based on an Expression of Interest (EOI)
On 10 May 2011 the Australian government announced the decision to implement a new way to manage Skilled Migration based on an Expression of Interest (EOI) and subsequent invitation to apply. The new program is called SkillSelect and will be introduced on 1 July 2012.
Although the key features are settled, further changes are possible and the following must not be taken as a final description of how the new selection register will operate. In particular, no action of any kind should be taken on the basis that this will be the final register. The minister may recommend to the Governor-General in-Council amendments to the Migration Regulations 1994 to give effect to the final register.
SkillSelect will build upon and draw together the suite of reforms made to the skilled migration program over the past three years. In doing so it will deliver the skills Australia needs by matching the best and brightest migrants to the available places in the migration program.
SkillSelect will be an electronic system based upon a two-stage process. Intending migrants first submit claims for skilled migration through an online EOI and subsequently may be invited to make a visa application. This is a significant change from the current situation, as applicants for Independent skilled, Family Sponsored skilled, State or Territory Sponsored skilled, or Business Skills programs will be required to receive an invitation in order to lodge a visa application.
After being invited, SkillSelect will ensure a match between the number of applicants and the number of available places. This will result in greater certainty for visa applicants and streamlined processing times.
The fundamental principle underpinning SkillSelect is that the skilled migration program is determined by the economic needs of Australia. As such, it is necessary for the Australian government to manage who is able to apply for skilled migration, when they are able to apply and in what numbers, on the basis of this need. As a result, Australia expects to be able to significantly improve the time taken to process a visa application and the settlement and employment prospects of its skilled migrants.
A key benefit of SkillSelect is the ability to address regional skill shortages. SkillSelect allows intending migrants to nominate a willingness to live and work in regional Australia. This will be of particular benefit to employers experiencing regional skill shortages and state and territory governments attempting to settle migrants in regional Australia.
SkillSelect will connect state and territory governments and Australian employers with potential skilled workers through a central database of intending skilled migrants. This will help state and territory governments maximise the benefit derived from their state and territory Migration Plans. From the perspective of employers, SkillSelect will assist in the resolution of skills shortages through quick and easy identification of prospective workers with the requisite skills and attributes, reducing overseas advertising and recruitment costs to businesses.
SkillSelect will commence on 1 July 2012. As of this date, new applicants for Independent skilled, Family Sponsored skilled, State or Territory Sponsored skilled, or Business Skills migration will be required to submit an EOI and be issued with an invitation before lodging a visa application. The first round of invitations is expected to be sent on 1 August 2012.
Depending upon their skills and eligibility, intending migrants will be able to express interest in a range of Skilled Migration programs in one EOI. These programs will include:
- Independent skilled migration
- State or Territory sponsored skilled migration
- Family Sponsored skilled migration – Business Skills
- The Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS)
- The Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS)
- The Subclass 457 Temporary Business.
Transitional arrangements currently apply to certain people who, on 8 February 2010, held or had applied for a Skilled Graduate (subclass 485) visa. This group is able to apply for a permanent skilled visa under the existing system, until the end of 2012.
The current visa subclasses which will be affected by SkillSelect are:
- Independent Skilled Migration (subclasses 175 and 885)
- State Sponsored Skilled Migration (subclasses 176 and 886)
- Business Skills (subclasses 132, 161, 162, 163, 164, 165, 890, 891, 892, 893)
- the Employer Nomination Scheme (subclasses 121 and 856)
- the Regional Sponsored Nomination Scheme (subclasses 119 and 857)
- the Subclass 457 Temporary Business (Long Stay) visa (subclass 457).