Immigration Update: General Skilled Migration

Date: May 02, 2010
Document Type: Newsletter

In 2010, the Commonwealth Government announced significant changes impacting general skilled migration, with further changes taking place later this year. If you have applied for or are thinking of applying for general skilled migration, it is imperative to seek advice and understand how the changes may impact your application.

Review of Points Test

The Commonwealth Government is currently reviewing the general skilled migration points test. On 15 February 2010, the government released a discussion paper on this issue. It is not yet known whether the government will make changes to the skilled migration points test. Prior to the completion of this review, the government has made other changes which may impact an applicant’s score on the points test.

Revocation of the Migration Occupation in Demand List MODL

In the past, applicants for skilled migration were awarded 15 additional points in the points test if their nominated occupation was on the MODL, provided they had worked in that occupation or a closely related occupation for at least 12 of the previous 48 months.

Following a review of the MODL, on 8 February 2010 the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship revoked the list, effective immediately. The result is that applicants will no longer be able to earn points in this category. Applicants who intended to rely on those points may have to find other ways of strengthening their application (such as increased English skills).

The revocation does not affect applicants who applied for a permanent or provisional general skilled migration visa prior to 8 February 2010. There are also exceptions for international students who have applied for or been granted their skilled graduate subclass 485 visas as of 8 February 2010.

Processing Priorities and Revocation of Critical Skills List (CSL)

Applications which have been lodged under an approved State Migration Plan will be given the highest priority. Applicants who have nominated an occupation currently on the CSL will continue to receive priority processing. Since January 2009, the government has maintained a list of occupations in short supply, called the CSL. The CSL was created as an interim measure to ensure that the migration process was meeting the needs of the labour market. The purpose of the CSL was to speed up the processing of applicants working in certain occupations.

The critical skills list will be revoked in mid 2010. It is expected that the revocation will occur when a new Skilled Occupations List is introduced (SOL) as part of broader changes to general skilled migration. Once the new SOL comes into effect, if an applicant’s occupation is not on the CSL, he or she will only be able to apply for a state or territory nominated general skilled migration. The new SOL is expected to be available by 30 April 2010 and to take effect in mid 2010.

Development of Skilled Occupations List (SOL)

Although the new SOL has not been released, Skills Australia has provided some insight into what the new list might look like. Skills Australia is an independent body which provides advice to the Commonwealth Government on Australia’s current, emerging and future workforce needs. The Commonwealth Government has asked Skills Australia to provide advice in relation to the development of a new SOL.

On 5 March 2010, Skills Australia released a report titled Australian Workforce Futures. Within the report, there is a list called the "specialised occupations list". It is expected that the specialised occupations list will form the basis for the new SOL. The list covers the following broad specialisations:

  • medical occupations (such as doctors, nurses, pharmacists, medical administrators and aged care workers);
  • engineering;
  • architecture, surveying and construction;
  • educational professionals (such as university lecturers and teachers of English as a Second Language);
  • auditors and accountants with CPA-equivalent qualifications;
  • legal professionals (including judges, magistrates and tribunal members);
  • aviation professionals (pilots and flight instructors);
  • police officers and fire fighters; and
  • selected trades.

Notably, the specialised occupations list did not include general business occupations such as management, marketing, human resources, hairdressing, commercial cookery, fitters and welders.

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