The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) has taken to the web to clear up any confusion about which migration visas will be affected by the upcoming changes to the points-based system.
In a post on the department's new blog, which was launched earlier this month to encourage better communication between the DIAC and members of the public, it highlighted that confusion can arise because of Australia's different visa streams.
The new points test, which is set to commence from July 1, will only apply to permanent skilled migration visas, meaning the applicant does not require an employer sponsor. Transitional arrangements are in place until 31 December 2012 for some student visa holders and former student visa holders.
One Melbourne professor recently compared Australia's migration system to that of New Zealand, noting that while 50 per cent of migrants to our eastern neighbour had an English-speaking background, an estimated 17 per cent of skilled workers coming to Australia came from a major English-speaking nation.
The DIAC asserted that the new changes to the points test will not affect applicants seeking business skilled or employer sponsored skilled migration visa categories, including temporary migration channels like the 457 visa.
"There can be confusion when points and occupation lists change because of misunderstanding about different visa streams," the post noted, highlighting that only one of Australia's many skilled migration schemes will be affected.
The new points test was developed after a review found the current system for permanent migration visa approvals was skewed towards a small number of occupations, leading to a skilled migration imbalance.
Under the new changes, migrants will be assessed based on their work experience, qualifications, age and English language ability. However, those workers on temporary visas considering a move to a permanent points-based visa are advised to seek professional advice.
While points will no longer be awarded for occupations, applicants must nominate for a job that is on the Skilled Occupation List, which is frequently updated to reflect the country's medium to long-term labour market and economic needs.
Currently, the list highlights the growing demand for jobs in the resources sector, particularly long-term supply issues for engineers. According to the DIAC, there are 19 different engineering occupations featuring prominently on the Skilled Occupation List.
If you are an employer, a sponsored employee or a prospective migrant to Australia, you may wish to enlist the help of an immigration lawyer to help prepare your visa application.
Migration lawyers can assess your case and give you a realistic estimate of the outcome of your application. If you decide to proceed, your lawyer can help you through every step of the process and ensure you have the information you require to provide evidence of your skills and qualifications.