Skilled migration changes come into force

Date: Jul 02, 2012

July 1 not only marked the start of the financial year, but also the introduction of a number of changes to Australia's skilled migration program.

Migration lawyers are best placed to offer guidance on the changes, but there are some reforms that the public should be made aware of if they are thinking about relocating to Australia.

One of the biggest amendments has been the launch of the SkillSelect system, which enables potential migrants to register their details online through an Expression of Interest.

Employers are then able to search the system and nominate applicants for skilled visas, or the government may get in touch to ask the individual to lodge a visa application.

This scheme is designed to streamline the skilled visa application process, while helping industries that are in need of workers identify individuals who would be best suited to the roles.

Following on from this, the Skilled Occupation List (SOL) has undergone its annual review, with four roles removed from last year's list and then replaced with another four.

Chemists, audiologists, bricklayers and wall and floor tilers are no longer on the SOL and have been substituted with mining production managers, optometrists, computer network and systems engineers and metallurgists.

The updated list will apply to all new independent and family sponsored skilled migration applications that were lodged on or after July 1.

Another change that has been introduced is an amended pass mark for the new SkillSelect visa subclasses 189, 190 and 489.

The pass mark will now stand at 60 points - five points lower than the current system - which the Department of Immigration and Citizenship hopes will attract a wider range of migrant workers.

"These reforms have ensured the skilled migration program is a responsive and demand driven program," a spokesperson confirmed.

Thresholds for student visa applications have also been reviewed to ensure people can continue to financially sustain themselves when they come to Australia for educational purposes.

Applicants must demonstrate that they have access to $18,610 per year to cover the cost of living, while partners need $6,515.

Students need to show that they have enough for a return air fare to Australia, which is also the case for any family members they may bring over with them.

Amendments have been made to the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold for 457 visa holders, who likewise need to have sufficient funds to survive in Australia.