Migration News

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July 2018: Skilled Independent Visas - Points Increase: As of the 1st July 2018 the points score required to apply for a Skilled Independent Visas increases from 60 to 65 points.

July 2017: New Zealand Citizens: new visa 1st July. Open to eligible New Zealand citizens, holding a Special Category (subclass 444) visa, who were usually resident in Australia on 19 February 2016 and have shown commitment and contribution to Australia in the previous 5 years

Nov 2017: Temporary Sponsored Parent visa will be introduced in November 2017 (quota 15,000 visas ). This visa will allow the temporary stay of sponsored parents in Australia for periods of up to three or five years. The visa may be renewed from outside Australia to allow a cumulative stay of up to ten years. further details

July 2017: Skilled Independent Visas: Age Change to the 189 visa as of 1st July. The government have amended the legislation for the 189 visa as of 1st July the maximum age at time of application will reduce from

July 2017: Visa Application Charges to Increase as of 1st July 2017

  • Skilled Visas (189/190/186/187): Primary Visa Applicant $3,670, Secondary Visa Applicant >18 $1,835, Secondary Visa Applicant
  • Partner Visa: Primary Visa Applicant $7,000
  • 457: Primary Visa Applicant $1,080, Secondary Visa Applicant >18 $1,080, Secondary Visa Applicant

Changes anticipated to the 186/187 Employer Nominated visas as of 1st July

July 2017: The MLTSSL will be revised based on advice from the Department of Education and Training’s 2017-18 'SOL' review. The STSOL will be reviewed again based on feedback from the Department of Employment.

May 2017: The May 2017 budget saw the government announced that as of March 2018 the Training Benchmark would be replaced by a Skilling Australians Fund levy.

May 2017: Prime Minister Announces new Citizenship requirements including:

  • Requiring all applicants to pass an English test
  • Requiring applicants to have lived in Australia as a permanent resident for at least four years (instead of one year at present)
  • Strengthening the citizenship test
  • Character test

May 2017: The DIBP have advised that all Pro-rata occupations have reached their quota for this year and no further invitations will be made for these occupations until July 2017 further details

April 2017: The DIBP announce significant changes to the Skilled Occupation Lists, 216 occupations removed and two new lists created

  • Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) replaced the previous ‘Skilled Occupation List’ (SOL) and is available in Schedule 1 of the relevant legislative instrument
  • Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) replaced the previous ‘Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List’ (CSOL) and is available in Schedule 2 of the relevant legislative instrument.

April 2017: On 18 April 2017, the Government announced that the 457 visa was to be abolished and replaced with the completely new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa in March 2018.

July 2016: Flagged 2016-17 Occupation List released further details

July 2016: New SOL and CSOL announced Two new occupations added to the SOL and 9 removed to the CSOL further details

Occupational Quotas for the year 2015-16 released further details

Number of places for Accountants halved as of 1 July 2015 further details

July 2015 DIBP to change Email addresses From 1 July 2015, The Department of Immigration and Border Protection will change their email addresses to the previous initial name then ****@border.gov.au.

July 2015 DIBP to change website address From 1 July 2015, The Department of Immigration and Border Protection will use a new website www.border.gov.au. From this date, internet searches for immi.gov.au and customs.gov.au will redirect to the new address.

July 2015 Accounting Occupations: Core study areas to change . As of 1st July the total number of core knowledge areas will be consolidated to nine (9) from the current twelve (12). Applications received after that date will be reviewed on the new criteria. further details

June 2015 CSOL Review The new Ministerial Advisory Council on Skilled Migration (MACSM) has had a major overhaul will meet in mid-June. “One of the first tasks of the panel will be to review the composition of the Consolidated Sponsored Occupations List, with a view to increasing the productivity contribution of sponsored migration.” their first meeting is in mid-June.

Jan 2016 Citizenship application charges to increase in Jan 2016 During the Budget the government announced that it intended to increase the citizenship application charges aimed at recouping the costs involved.

Jun 2015 CSOL Review The Ministerial Advisory Council on Skilled Migration (MACSM) has had a major overhaul. “One of the first tasks of the panel will be to review the composition of the Consolidated Sponsored Occupations List, with a view to increasing the productivity contribution of sponsored migration.” their first meeting is in mid-June.

July 2015 Visa Charges to increase 1st July 2015 During the Budget the government announced that the visa application charges would increase by 2.5, 5 or 10% depending upon the visa type.

May 2015 Accountants quota reached for this year The quota of invitations issued under the Skilled Independent Visas has reached the quota for the current year and no more invitations will be issued until 1st July 2015.

Nov 2014 Additional English test options The DIBP have provided further details about the additional English tests (due to be accepted for some visa applications 23 November 2014) more here

Oct 2014 Got AU$15 to spare? The new Premium Investor Visa requires an eligible investment of $15 million. However, there are no residency requirements and PIV holders will be eligible for permanent residency after holding an eligible investment for 12 months..

Sept 2014 Non-Contributory Parent and Other Family Visas Re-open A disallowance motion in Senate was successful reopening the non-contributory parent, aged dependent, carer and last remaining relative. This reopening may be limited in duration.

July 2014 New SOL and CSOL announced 3 occupations move up from the CSOL to the SOL and 2 new occupations, Hydrogeologist and Exercise Physiologist added to the CSOL. Start 1st July 2014.

July 2014 Changes to Skills Assessment validity Skills assessments provided by the approved authorities will now only have a maximum 3 year validity for DIBP migration purposes (shorter if the assessment authorities validity is less than this).. Start 1st July 2014.

July 2014 Quota of places for Accountants halved DIBP will halve the normal quota allowance of independent skilled migration places for accountants in the coming year. As seen with the capped occupations last year, accountants should consider early application and maximising points. Start 1st July 2014.

March 2014 Credit card merchant fees to be charged by DIBP (PIC) 4020 Credit card merchant fees to be charged by DIBP as of 22 March 2014. Full details of the surcharge will be communicated on the DIBP website from 22 March 2014.

March 2014 Public Interest Criterion (PIC) 4020 As of 24 March Public Interest Criterion (PIC) 4020 is to be strengthened. PIC 4020 provides a ground to refuse to grant a visa where there is evidence that the visa applicant has given, or caused to be given, a bogus document or information that is false or misleading. Failure to meet PIC 4020 can currently lead to a 3 year exclusion period, this will be increased to 10 years for information relating to identity.

March 2014 WA State Sponsorship New criteria for State nomination will be released at 12.00pm on 1 March 2014. Until its release, the 2012-13 State nomination criteria will remain in place.

Feb 2014 ACT Sponsorship List ACT state sponsorship list to change 24th February. Quite a few occupation changes.

Feb 2014 Subclass 457 nomination ceilings abolished as of Feb 14th – whilst the estimated number of nominations must still be provided, further (reasonable number) nominations can still be lodged after the orignal number has been reached, until the SBS approval expiry date.

Feb 2014 WA Sponsorship List Changes Western Australian has closed 2 more occupations on their sponsorship list: ANZSCO 233111 Chemical engineer; and ANZSCO 233912 Agricultural engineer. If you have already received an invitation, your application will not be affected.

Feb 2014 Skilled Graduate Visa Institution Changes As of 14 Feb 2014 there are some Institution changes relating to the Skilled – Recognised Graduate Visas (476) for Engineering graduates. The changes mainly relate to specifying Institutions and Courses that are approved under the Washington Accord.

Jan 2014 Tasmania Sponsorship List Changes The Tasmanian Government will be changing the eligibility requirements for ‘Tasmanian graduates’ under the Subclass 190 visa. Applicants who studied at the University / TAFE of Tasmania for two years or more may apply provided that they meet the 190 visa requirements set by DIBP. Previous requirements such as 3 month post qualification work experience or 6 months of business ownership have been removed. If the nominated occupation is not on the Tasmanian State Migration Plan – Occupation List (Tasmanian SMP List), the applicant will be considered for an off-list nomination.

28 October 2013 DIBP Skills assessment change As of this date skills assessments obtained for a Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa will no longer be accepted by DIBP when applying for a Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186) visa or a Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (subclass 187) visa.

20 September 2013 DIAC change their name to DIBP The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) has changed its name to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP).

August 2013 Visa Application Charge Increase 1st September There is to be an increase in many visa application charges as of the 1st September 2013.This along with the additional applicant fees introduced in August will be a real blow to many would-be visa applicants.

Example of Visa Application Charges for a Skilled Independent Visa or Employer Sponsored Visa:

  • Primary Applicant $3,520
  • Secondary Applicant over 18 $1,760
  • Secondary Applicant less than 18 $880

Example of Visa Application Charges for a Temporary Employer Sponsored Visa 457:

  • Primary Applicant $1,035
  • Secondary Applicant over 18 $1,035
  • Secondary Applicant less than 18 $260

August 2013 New processing method for some Occupational Ceilings The following occupations appear to be close to reaching their occupational ceilings for the 2013/2014 year. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) has advised that invitations for certain occupational groups in the points-tested migration program will be issued on a pro-rata basis over the 2013/14 program year. The occupational ceiling will remain the same but the pro-rata approach will mean that invitations are staggered and issued to selected individuals over the course of 2013/14 in twice monthly occupation rounds. They have advised that the states will not be able to nominate any applicants from these occupations for a 190 visa.

Occupations currently impacted by this policy change include:

  • ICT Business and Systems Analysts - 2611
  • Chemical and Materials Engineers - 2331
  • Electronics Engineers - 2334
  • Telecommunications Engineering Professionals - 2633
  • Other Engineering Professional - 2339
  • Software and Applications Programmers - 2613

August 2013 Increase in permanent visas granted to Engineers A recent report advises that the annual intake of engineers being provided with permanent residence visas in the year ending 30 June 2013 was 8,585. Australia produces lists of occupations, relating to skills considered to be in demand in Australia. Individuals with skills in these occupations can apply for independent skilled or employer sponsored visas. There is an extensive list of engineering occupations listed as in demand. Since about 2000 Australia has experienced persistent shortages of engineers. Prior to 2006 there had been a downward trend in Australian students completing engineering courses, whilst this downward trend has turned around it has not been sufficient to meet the increase in demand for engineers within Australia.

July 2013 Other Family Visas quotas announced The 2013/14 quota for Other Family visas has more than halved from 1285 places down to just 595 places. This category includes both offshore and onshore applications for Carer, Remaining Relative, and Aged Dependent Relative visas. Within this category Carer visas will continue to be prioritised, however it is expected that there is likely to be a significant increase in processing times for all applications for these visas. DIAC advises a wait of approximately 16 years for a Remaining Relative or Aged Dependent Relative visa.

July 2013 Prospective Marriage visa - changes Both the applicant and prospective spouse must now be 18 years old at the time of application. Parent/guardian sponsorship or court orders/Ministers discretion will no longer provide exceptions to this requirement. The visa applicant and sponsor must have met in person as adults, being since each of them turned 18, plus the couple must be personally known to each other.

July 2013 Parent Visa quotas announced The quota for Parent and Aged Parent visas for the 2013/14 financial year is 2295 places. Under current regulations DIAC estimate a wait of approximately 13 years for the grant of a non-contributory Parent visas. Contributory Parent visas have a quota of 6675 places and are considerably quicker (current estimates 12-24 months), but are also more costly. Depending on your personal circumstances there are pros and cons to be taken into consideration with both options.

Broader penalties for Employers On 1 July 2013, new laws will introduce the ability to provide civil penalties and infringement notices to businesses that employ or contract illegal workers. Businesses will be expected to take reasonable steps to ensure non-citizen workers are permitted to work including any conditions they are required to adhere to. The law also broadens who can be held liable and provides new evidence gathering powers.

ATO and DIAC to share information. The following taken from a couple of media sources - but not ATO or DIAC. Legislation aimed at protecting the rights of temporary overseas workers, and to ensure Australian wages and conditions are not undermined, is being utilised. The laws enable the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to disclose information to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO), are now to commence a data-matching exercise expected to weed out potential fraud and other breaches. The ATO have said they will be provided with personal details across 27 different types of visa by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC), including working holiday makers, skilled workers, students and diplomatic staff. The 27 visa subclasses are: 406, 410, 411, 415, 416, 417, 418, 419, 420, 421, 422, 423, 424, 426, 427, 428, 442, 457, 462, 570, 571, 572, 573, 574, 575, 576 and 580. Details collected "will be electronically matched and analysed with certain sections of ATO data holdings to identify potential fraud, and other non-compliance with lodgment and payment obligations under taxation law", ATO stated. Information will include place of study for student visa holders, details of migration agents, overseas travel movements, and whether immigration visas remain valid. The program will check that tax returns and business activity statements are being correctly completed by company sponsors and the visa holders, indicating they are meeting obligations set out in the visa conditions. People found to be breaching conditions will be sent a letter and given 28 days to resolve any discrepancies - after which the ATO will take administrative action. The agency said it will be sharing any information regarding visa holders not following the rules with the DIAC, which could result in visa cancellation and removal from Australia.

23 March 2013 Reforms to the Temporary Graduate Work Visa:As of 23rd March, 2013 the Temporary Skilled Graduate (subclass 485) visa is renamed as the Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa and contains 2 streams. Students may be eligible to apply for a subclass 485 visa through either the previously available Graduate Work stream or the new Post-Study Work stream, depending on their individual circumstances see web page.

12 March 2013 Reforms to Visitor and Medical Treatment Visas: From 23 March 2013 the government intends to introduce significant changes to the Visitor and Medical Treatment visas. Following the changes the following visas will be replaced by 5 alternative visa options:

  • Tourist visa (subclass 676)
  • Sponsored family visitor visa (subclass 679)
  • Business (short Stay) visa (Subclass 456)
  • Sponsored business visitor (short stay) visa (subclass 459)
  • Medical Treatment (short stay) visa (subclass 675)
  • Medical Treatment (long stay) visa (subclass 685)
  • Electronic Travel Authority (visitor) (subclass 976)
  • Electronic Travel Authority (business – short validity) (subclass 977)
  • Electronic Travel Authority (business – long validity) (subclass 956)
Applicants who were previously eligible for the visas listed above may be eligible for one of the five new subclasses of visa.

23 February 2013 Reforms to the 457 visa program: The government has decided to introduce a set of changes to the 457 program to ensure employers give Australian workers a fair go. Under the changes:

  • Employers must demonstrate that they are not nominating positions where a genuine shortage does not exist
  • The English language requirements for certain positions have been raised
  • The enforceability of existing training requirements for businesses that use the program will be strengthened
  • The market salary exemption will rise from $180 000 to $250 000
  • On-hire arrangements of 457 visa workers will be restricted
  • Compliance and enforcement powers will be beefed up to stop employers who have routinely abused the 457 system
  • Stakeholders will be consulted to ensure market rate provisions more effectively protect local employment.
'We do not want to punish those employers who have genuine skill shortages and who are using 457 visas in the way that the system is intended,' Mr O'Connor said.

04 September 2012 Longer Tourist visas for parents of Australians - expected towards the end of 2012. Towards the end of 2012, parents of Australian citizens and permanent residents will be able to apply for Tourist visas to visit Australia for longer. Under this arrangement recently announced by the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, the department will consider granting on a case-by-case basis:

  • Tourist visas of up to five years' validity which provide a stay of up to 12 months on each entry to those parents who are outside Australia and are in the Parent (subclass 103) visa queue
  • Tourist visas of up to three years' validity with 12 months' stay on each entry will be considered for parents who are outside Australia and are not in the Parent visa queue.