Increase in residency applications as SkillSelect program draws near

Date: Jan 11, 2012

An increase in the number of international applications for permanent migration visas in Australia has been linked to imminent changes to the submissions process itself.

Due to begin on July 1, the new Skilled Migrant Selection Register will help to consolidate the diverse range of entry channels into the country.

Known as SkillSelect, the program requires international applicants to submit their details through an online portal - allowing the Department of immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) to add their relevant experience and qualifications to a central database.

This process is known as an Expression Of Interest (EOI) and is not considered to be the same as an actual visa application - meaning that a bridging visa would not be available to individuals who currently reside in Australia.

The online procedure means that an EOI can be received by the department almost instantaneously - removing the chance that postal applications could be lost or damaged.

Once these details have been logged, the DIAC will then help to match up these various trades with available positions provided by registered businesses and organisation.

When a match is found, the department will then invite the individual to apply for their specific visa with the guarantee that a position is available to them should they meet the necessary criteria - a process made easier with the assistance of an immigration lawyer.

According to the DIAC, this two-stage process will become the mainstay for the majority of migrants seeking "independent, family sponsored or state or territory sponsored or business skills visas".

Those looking to make use of an employer sponsored visa or the subclass 457 visa will still have the option of submitting an EOI, though it will not be mandatory as they are already likely to have a specific role made available for them.

The DIAC says that the SkillSelect program will make for a smoother migration experience as it delivers migrants with the assurance that a role is available before they submit their visa application.

While it may help to deliver a more efficient service, emigration experts have expressed concerns over the changes, saying that it could affect some applications for permanent residency and was responsible for driving up the number of recent submissions.

Leading Irish emigration expert Edwina Shanahan said that the electronic process could "create significant uncertainty" for migrants looking to start a new life in Australia.

"We think this change is having a strong bearing on people who are already registered who want to make sure their application is in before the changes come into force," explained Shanahan.