Welcome to the Spring 2010 edition of our newsletter!

The past few months have seen many changes to the Skilled Visa program and we envisage more to come. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) has advised that there will be changes to the points test for skilled visa applicants and indicated that the Employer Sponsored Visa Schemes (ENS and RSMS) and Business Skills visas are also under review. Now that the Australian Federal Government elections have passed we would envisage some changes to be announced later this year. We will endeavour to keep you informed of these changes via our newsletter which can be viewed on our website at: www.migrationpages.com.au. You can also connect with us via Facebook or Twitter.

For a short discussion of the changes to Skilled Graduate and General Skilled Migration (GSM) Visas, plus State/Territory Sponsorship and Visa Capping please see below. These changes will be significant and may affect your chances of applying for an Australian visa, please contact us if you have any concerns.

Skilled Graduate - Subclass 485 applications

On the 8 February 2010 the Minister announced major changes to the GSM program. Many overseas students have been affected by this change, but most still should be able to lodge an application for a temporary visa.

In summary, if you held a Skilled-Graduate (subclass 485) visa or had a pending subclass 485 visa application on the 8 February 2010 and have not yet lodged an application for a provisional or permanent GSM visa you still can make an application using the old Skilled Occupation List (SOL) providing you lodge your application by 31 December 2012.

The old SOL also still applies to people applying for a Skilled-Graduate (subclass 485) visa that on 8 February 2010 held a:
  • Vocational Education and Training Sector (subclass 572) visa
  • Higher Education Sector (subclass 573) visa
  • Postgraduate Research Sector (subclass 574) visa.
However when the time comes for you to apply for a permanent visa you must have an occupation on the new SOL. Other temporary or permanent visa options may exist, so please contact us to discuss your case.

New Priority Processing Arrangements for GSM Visas

DIAC recently announced new GSM processing priorities. The processing priorities are as follows:

1. Applications from people who are employer sponsored under the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) and the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS)

2. Applications from people who are nominated by a state or territory government agency with a nominated occupation that is specified on that state or territory's state migration plan. Applications which have already been nominated by a state or territory government with an occupation that is subsequently specified in their nominating state or territory's state migration plan will receive Priority 2 processing.

3. Applications from people who have nominated an occupation on the new Skilled Occupation List (SOL) which came into effect on 1 July 2010.

4. All other applications are to be processed in the order in which they are received.

Please Note: DIAC advises that priority 4 applicants will have "a long wait".

The following GSM subclasses are subject to priority processing:
175; 176; 475; 487; 495; 496; 497; 861; 862; 863; 880; 881; 882; 885; and 886.

The following are exempt from priority processing and will be processed in the order in which they are received:
  • Applications for Subclass 476; 485; 883; and 887;
  • Applications that are remitted to DIAC by the Migration Review Tribunal (MRT);
  • Applications where it is "readily apparent that the criteria for grant of a visa would not be satisfied"; and
  • Applications from subsequent entrants.
These priority processing arrangements apply to applications already lodged with DIAC, as well as to future applications. Case officers do not have any discretion to exempt applications from priority processing.

State/Territory Sponsorship for General Skilled Migration (GSM)

DIAC has advised that in the absence of State Migration Plans (SMP) State/Territory government agencies should only seek to nominate applicants whose occupation is listed in the new Skilled Occupation List (SOL)."

Currently, most State and Territory Governments have suspended their sponsorship program and will not accept new applications until their SMP's are approved by DIAC. Currently the ACT and Queensland will accept applications for sponsorship in a limited number of occupations on the new SOL. Please contact us for further details.

Migration Amendment (Visa Capping) Bill 2010 Update

The Migration Amendment (Visa Capping) Bill 2010 was introduced into the Federal Parliament on 26 May 2010 and has been referred to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee. The implications for visa applicants could be severe. The Bill, in its current form would give the minister power to 'terminate' applications for permanent residency, potentially enabling him to clear a backlog of applications from international student graduates and overseas skilled migrants who have lodged a valid visa.
The Bill would also enable the minister to cap the number of visas issued in a given year to applicants with 'specified characteristics', for example, limit the number of applications in certain skilled occupations.

Keep an eye on this newsletter and our Facebook page or Twitter account for updates on this Bill.

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