As you may have noticed, State Migration Plans are being introduced for each Australia state and territory over the coming months in 2010.
On 8 February 2010 the Australian Government announced a series of reforms to the skilled migration program. One of the reforms announced was the development of State Migration Plans.
The Plans will provide state and territory governments with flexibility within the Migration Program to address specific skill shortages and local labour market needs as each agreement will be tailored to the individual requirements of each jurisdiction.
While state and territory governments have had the capacity to nominate applicants for the purposes of the GSM program for a number of years, the introduction of Plans is intended to improve the targeting of this part of the program.
Plans are proposed to be agreements, in the form of Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs), between individual states and territories and the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, which will allow jurisdictions to sponsor applicants under a broad range of occupations to fill skills shortages within their local labour markets.
Plans are currently being developed for all states and territories, and are subject to the Minister’s approval prior to implementation.
Under Plans, state and territories are able to nominate only those applicants whose nominated occupation is included on their respective Plan. States and territories will however have some limited capacity to nominate applicants where their occupation is not specified on their Plan.
These provisions allow states further flexibility in providing nominations which may be valuable in meeting shortages in very specialised occupations. The availability of this facility is entirely at the discretion of the state and territory government, and states and territories are not obliged to offer any nominations outside the occupations specified in their Plan.
State and territories will include information on the eligible occupations included in their Plans on their respective web-sites.
New visa applications
State Migration Plans will apply to those applicants who obtain nomination from a state or territory government and apply for one of the following visas:
- Skilled Sponsored Subclass 176
- Skilled Sponsored Subclass 886
- Skilled Sponsored – Regional Subclass 475
- Skilled Sponsored – Regional Subclass 487.
To lodge a new visa application, applicants are required to obtain nomination from a state or territory government prior to lodging their visa application. Evidence that the state or territory government has agreed to nominate the applicant should be submitted with the visa application.
For all applications lodged after 1 July 2010, there is no capacity for applicants to switch between an application lodged for a Skilled Independent Subclasses 175 and Skilled Sponsored Subclass 176, or between a Skilled Independent Subclass 885 and Skilled Sponsored Subclass 886.
Similarly, there is no capacity for an application for either a Skilled Sponsored Subclass 176 visa or a Skilled Sponsored Subclass 886 lodged on the basis of family sponsorship to be changed to an application made on the basis of nomination by a state or territory government.
The Migration Regulations 1994 have never permitted applications for Skilled Sponsored – Regional 475 or 487 visas made on the basis of family sponsorship to change their application to a state or territory nominated application and this has not changed.
Existing Visa applications
Applicants with an existing visa application in an occupation which is included on their nominating state or territory’s Plan will receive priority in having their application processed.
The current Ministerial Direction in place for the processing of skilled visas provides applications made in relation to a State Migration Plan will be processed after those applications for the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) and the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) programs.
If you applied for your visa before a state or territory Plan commences, and your occupation is not on your state or territory’s Plan, your application will be afforded either priority 3 (if you nominated an occupation on the Skilled Occupation List) or priority 4 processing (if your nominated occupation is not on the SOL. The priority of your application will not change as a result of State Migration Plans.
Applicants who have not yet lodged a visa application and who want to obtain nomination from a state or territory government should contact that government directly. Applicants can contact the state and territory governments through the following websites. (Please note all links open on a new page)
Australian Capital Territory
New South Wales