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General Skilled Migration changes and their impact on international students

The Australian Minister for Immigration yesterday announced significant changes to the General Skilled Migration (GSM) program.

Changes include:

  • Cap and Cease of offshore GSM applications lodged before 1 September 2007
  • A new Skilled Occupations List (SOL) to come into effect in mid 2010
  • Abolition of the Migration Occupations in Demand List (MODL)
  • Revocation of Critical Skills List (CSL) from mid 2010
  • Changes to Processing Priorities and introduction of new State Sponsorship arrangements
  • Pre 1 Jan 2010 Trade Skills Assessments will be accepted by DIAC from 1st Quarter 2010

Many of these changes have transitional provisions to ensure that the impact on international students studying in Australia are minimised.

Cap and Cease of Offshore GSM Applications Lodged Prior to 1 September 2007

The cap and cease provisions apply only to offshore applications – they will not affect onshore applications lodged by international students prior to 1 September 2007.

New Skilled Occupations List (SOL)

A new Skilled Occupations List (SOL) is to be introduced by mid 2010. The list should be available by 30 April 2010, and will come into effect by mid 2010.

The result will most likely be a much shorter list. If your occupation is not on the new SOL, you will only be able to apply for a state or territory nominated GSM visa.

However, there are generous transitional provisions for international students studying in Australia. In particular, you will not be affected by the changes if:

  • You have already applied for a permanent or provisional GSM visa prior to 8 February 2010; or
  • You have already applied for or been granted a subclass 485 Graduate Skilled visa prior to 8 February 2010, and lodge your permanent or provisional GSM visa application prior to 31 December 2012.

If you are in Australia on a student visa as of 8 February 2010, then you can apply for a skilled graduate visa in any occupation on the current SOL, but must then apply for a permanent or provisional skilled visa in an occupation on the new SOL.

At this time, it is not clear if the new SOL will apply to permanent and provisional skilled visas lodged after 8 February and before the new SOL comes into effect.

Abolition of Migration Occupations in Demand List (MODL)

The MODL is to be abolished, but this process will be staged so that the impact on applicants. In particular, if you have applied for your permanent or provisional GSM visa prior to 8 February 2010, you will not be affected.

International students who have applied for or been granted their skilled graduate subclass 485 visas as of 8 February 2010 will not be affected either, providing they lodge their permanent or provisional GSM application by 31 December 2012

The changes are unlikely to affect eligibility of students completing vocational courses such as cookery or hairdressing in Australia. Such applicants would in general look at completing work experience in Australia after completion of their studies in any case, and this would generally mean that they would have sufficient points to qualify.

Revocation of Critical Skills List (CSL)

The Critical Skills List (CSL) is a list of occupations in short supply which receive priority processing in the GSM program. Applicants who have occupations on the CSL are processed ahead of applicants in any other occupation. Unless you have an occupation on the CSL it will take a minimum of 2-3 years for the application to be processed. The list was introduced in January 2009, and now is to be revoked. The date of this change coming into effect is likely to be mid 2010, when the new SOL comes into effect.

Changes to Processing Priorities

Processing priorities for GSM applications remain essentially unchanged, except that applications which have been lodged under an approved “State Migration Plan” will have the highest priority of any GSM application.

Pre 1 Jan 2010 Trade Skills Assessments to be Accepted by DIAC

The Minister has also announced that people who had their skills assessed in a trade occupation prior to 1 January 2010 will be able to use these skills assessments in applying for skilled migration.

The result of the change is that people who have had their skills assessed in a trade under the previous requirements (for TRA – a certificate III and 900 hours of work experience in the trade) will now be able to lodge for permanent residence without needing to go through the Job Ready Program. This is a great outcome for students who have already applied for their skilled graduate subclass 485 visas, but the change is not yet in place and should be implemented in the first quarter of 2010.

Upcoming Review of GSM Points Test

The Minister also announced that the GSM points test is under review. A discussion paper will be released shortly, and the review should be completed in the first half of 2010. The intention of the review is to ensure selection of “high calibre applicants” so we could see some further significant changes when it is introduced in mid 2010.

Changes to the program may also mean that quotas apply to certain occupations on the SOL.

Conclusion

The changes announced today are very significant, but their impact on international students currently studying in Australia and applying for onshore GSM visas has been minimised as far as possible. However, applicants lodging offshore skilled visas have been affected significantly.

Thanks to Mark Webster at Acacia Immigration Australia who contributed this artilce.

Written by Mark

As the founder of Getting Down Under, Mark is passionate about demystifying the process associated with a move to Australia.
Having launched Getting Down Under in early January 2006 and made the move to Australia from the UK in the same year, Mark continues to share resources and support for those looking for assitance, Getting Down Under.

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  1. Please is my discipline qualified me for Australia permanent residence?I have biochemistry has my first degree.

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