A new selection model announced earlier this year by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship is set to affect people looking to make an application for several different kinds of skilled migration visas from 2012.
The new model will see applicants for skilled independent, skilled sponsored and skilled regional sponsored visas complete the relevant English tests and skills assessments before they lodge an online expression of interest - commonly referred to as an EOI.
However, prospective applicants who are interested in pursuing employer sponsorship will not be required to submit an EOI if they already have a sponsor.
Assessments of the EOIs will take place periodically - it is thought that these will be evaluated every three or six months - and then the Department of Immigration and Citizenship will invite them to apply for a general skilled visa.
This system incorporates a number of significant changes, including an occupation ceiling to set the maximum number of applicants allowed in any one occupation each year. Should this ceiling be reached, no further applications will be accepted.
When prospective applicants submit their EOI, employers will be able to view their details and contact them to discuss sponsorship opportunities, which the department helps will lead to a more efficient way of addressing regional skills shortages.
Another interesting change to the model is the fact it will move to an entirely electronic system. According to the department, this will result in faster processing times.
The new changes are proposed to take effect on July 1 next year, but the Department of Immigration and Citizenship has emphasised that the new migrant selection model is "in an early stage of development and consultation".
News of the proposed skilled migration selection model follows the announcement of tougher English language standards for skilled migrants, which are set to take effect next month.
After July 1, anyone coming to Australia as part of the points-based migration scheme will receive additional points if they are able to demonstrate a high level of English language skills.
Applicants may be required to take a language proficiency test if they do not come from a country where the majority of the population speaks English.
Individuals who are planning to make an Australian visa application may wish to consult a skilled migration lawyer to help.
Immigration lawyers can offer you valuable advice about the likelihood of your application being approved and provide you with support throughout the process.