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The Northern Territory (NT) temporarily suspends offshore application for General Skilled Migration nominations

The NT Government has temporarily suspended offshore applications for Subclasses 489 and 190 visas until 1 July 2017. For any offshore applicants who haven’t been issued with their Migration NT file number (for example, BSM2017/XXXX), their application will not be processed.

Such applicants are encouraged to reapply after 1 July 2017. Onshore applicants who are currently on NT are not affected by the suspension.

This suspension is due to the upcoming introduction of an online application system and recent changes to the General Skilled Migration program by the Australian Government.

Further information is available on the Australia’s Northern Territory website.

Australian Visa Law will be happy to assist you with your application once the suspension has been lifted.

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A brief summary of subclass 457, 186 and 187 changes, announced 18 April 2017

  1. Any 457 sponsorship, nomination or visa applications that are NOT listed in the relevant Instrument IMMI 17/040 (see attached) and NOT decided by 18th April 2017 will no longer be able to be approved. Refund of DIBP application fees may be available.
  2. Any new 457 applications lodged from 19 April 2017 onwards will have to have their occupation on the STSOL or MLTSSL occupation lists.
  3. If you are granted a 457 visa after 18 April 2017 off the STSOL list, it can only be granted for 2 years. There will be one (only) further extension allowed after that for another 2 years. You will not be allowed to apply for a permanent 186/187 visa under that occupation if it is on the STSOL.
  4. If you are granted a 457 visa after 18 April 2017 off the MLTSSL list, it can be granted for 4 years. You will be able to be apply for a permanent 186/187 visa after 3 years on a 457 visa if that company decides to nominate you.
  5. From March 2018 the new TSS visa will have replaced the 457 visa. You will need to have 2 years work experience before applying and your occupation will have to be on the STSOL or MLTSSL lists. If you are on the STSOL list you will also have to show you only want to stay in Australia temporarily.
  6. From March 2018 you need to have your occupation on the MLTSSL occupation list to apply for company/employer sponsored permanent residence. Please note that from the earlier date of 1 July 2017, you will also need to commit to working for the company for 3 years, have an IELTS of 6+ and be under 45 years of age.
  7. The Prime Minister and Minister for Immigration confirmed that existing 457 visa holders (as of 18 April 2017) will still be able to apply for a Permanent visa and will not be affected by these changes.

 

So what are just some of the consequences of all this:

  • Occupations such as cook and restaurant manager are on the STSOL list. While you can still be sponsored for 2 years by a restaurant on the 457 visa and gain another 2 year extension, you can no longer apply for a permanent visa unless it is added to the MLTSSL list for you being in a designated regional area.
  • Retail manager is still available in regional areas for the 187 visa at the moment. But from March 2018 this will not be the case, as this occupation is not on the MLTSSL list.
  • Most student graduates will not be eligible for temporary or permanent company sponsorship after March 2018 as you require at least 2 years FULL-TIME WORK EXPERIENCE first.

A timeline of future 457 changes:

  1. from 19 April 2017 – 216 occupations removed and 59 others restricted, 24 occupations restricted to regional Australia, Occupational lists renamed, validity period for occupations on STSOL 2 years.
  2. from 01 July 2017 – English salary exemption $96,400 to be removed, training benchmarks to be changed, mandatory penal clearance certificates.
  3. before 31 December 2017 – collection of TFN for 457 visa holders for ATO data matching, publication of sanctioned sponsors.
  4. from March 2018 – 457 visa abolished and replaced with TSS visa which will comprise the Short-Term(2 years) and Medium-Term stream(4 years).

A timeline of future 186/187 changes:

  1. from 19 April 2017 – CSOL condensed, 216 occupations removed, 24 occupations restricted to regional Australia, Occupational lists renamed as STSOL and MLTSSL.
  2. from 01 July 2017 – review of STSOL and MLTSSL, IELTS 6 required in each component, changes in age (DE stream 45 years old, no change to TRT).
  3. before 31 December 2017 – collection of TFN for 457 visa holders for ATO data matching, publication of sanctioned sponsors.
  4. from March 2018 – the MLTSSL will apply to ENS/RSMS with additional regional occupations, Market salary rate will apply and meet TSMIT, eligibility period for PR extended from 2 to 3 years, at least 3 years’ work experience required, under 45 years of age, contribution towards training fund.

Contact us if you would like to be assisted with the new visa stream.

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Australian Government announces Citizenship Reforms

The Australian government has advised that a package of reforms will apply to Citizenship applications received on or after 20 April 2017. The Government has also advised that the new Citizenship legislation for these reforms will not be introduced immediately, but will be introduced by the end of 2017.

The package of reforms includes the following:

  • Increase in general residence requirement to a minimum of 4 years permanent residence immediately prior to application for citizenship
  • Need to demonstrate competent English prior to sitting the citizenship test
  • Strengthening the Australian values statement to include reference to allegiance to Australia and require applicants to make an undertaking to integrate into and contribute to the Australian community
  • Strengthen the test for Australian citizenship with the addition of new test questions about Australian values, privileges and responsibilities of Australian citizenship
  • Introducing a requirement for applicants to demonstrate their integration into the Australian community by providing documentation to the effect that people who can work are working, or are actively looking for work or seeking to educate themselves; that people are contributing to the community by being actively involved in community or voluntary organisations; that people are properly paying their taxes and ensuring their children are being educated and criminal records and adherence to social security laws will also be relevant
  • Strengthening the Pledge of commitment in the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 to refer to allegiance to Australia and extending the requirement for individuals over 16 years of age to make the Pledge of commitment to all streams of citizenship by application, including citizenship by descent, adoption and resumption.

Australian Visa Law would be glad to assist you with all your visa options.

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Australian Government to replace 457 visas with new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa

The Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull announced on 18 April 2017 that the Government will be abolishing the Subclass 457 visas, to be replaced with a new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa. The TSS visa will have added requirements, including a requirement for at least 2 years of work experience, better English language skills, stricter labour market testing, and a mandatory police check.

He explained: “We are putting jobs first, we are putting Australians first. Australian workers must have priority for Australian jobs, so we are abolishing the 457 visa, the visa that brings temporary foreign workers into our country. We will no longer allow 457 visas to be passports to jobs that could and should go to Australians.”

The Minister for Immigration, indicated that the TSS visa will have two streams:

  1. Short Term stream for a two-year visa which no longer provides a pathway to permanent residency, but which will allow the nominee to acquire necessary experience and proper training for them to potentially apply for a Medium and Long-Term Visa Stream within 2 years, should the employer and nominee wish. This stream shall be using the new Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) which replaced the previous ‘Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List’ (CSOL)
  2. Medium Term stream which will target higher skills. This will have a shorter skills occupation list and will be for a period of 4 years. This stream can be applied for either offshore or onshore. This stream shall be using the new Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) which replaced the previous ‘Skilled Occupation List’ (SOL)

While it is true that 216 occupations have been removed from the combined skilled occupation lists, many common occupations, including nurses, general managers, accountants, customer service managers, as well as hospitality positions such as chefs, cooks, restaurant and café managers can still be applied for, under the new Short-Term Skilled Occupation stream.

These changes to the occupation lists used for skilled migration visas commenced on 19 April 2017. To access the updated Skilled List, click here. With the changes in place, application fees will rise from a flat $1060 to $1150 for the two-year visa and more than double to $2400 for the four-year visa.

Although the process may have been tightened a bit, qualified candidates in their fields still have the option to gain a good career path in Australia. Those people currently on a 457 visa, will be exempt from the new regulations.

Australian Visa Law would be glad to help you with all your visa options.

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Australian Government looking for ways to encourage migrants out of Capital cities

Within the upcoming Australian Federal budget, the Australian Government is considering new ways to encourage migrants to settle in regional areas instead of Capital cities. This would relieve pressure on house prices and infrastructures in the larger cities, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne.

Average house prices have risen 19 per cent in Sydney and 16 per cent in Melbourne in the year to March 2017, causing considerable political alarm. The Government is therefore targeting Regional areas such as the NSW Central Coast as well as larger Regional cities, such as Goulburn, as key areas that could possibly accommodate future migrants and migrant families. The Australian Government is also actively considering positive ways in which it might provide to solid support to people who choose a Regional city, should they find work there.

Although there will remain ongoing reasons why many migrants will wish to settle in Capital cities, (including potentially easier access to a larger number of job opportunities and the proximity to existing family and expat communities), the effort of the Government to direct these people towards Regional areas could bring about many benefits for both the Government and to these migrants themselves.

The Government will hopefully outline a range of additional advantages to living in Regional areas, in its coming Budget. Current advantages include a substantially cheaper cost of living and housing and greater space, compared to living in a Capital city. In addition, it is said that it can be a great way to raise a family and be involved intimately with a closer, smaller community. But most importantly, there has to be a sufficient supply of work and opportunity within these Regions. It will be interesting to see what the Government propose and how these measures will assist potential Regional migrants.

If you’d like more information about Regional migration, especially Skilled Regional migration under Subclasses 190 and 489, please contact us.

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Changes to the Member of Family Unit (MoFU)

A new regulation commenced on 19 November 2016, in relation to who is to be defined as a Member of Family Unit (MoFU). It has been simplified and limited to direct family members who are under the age of 23. These includes dependent children with a medically accepted disability. The general definition of MoFU was amended to limit secondary visa applicants for permanent visa subclasses and some provisional and temporary visa subclasses. No changes however were made, as to which visa subclasses MoFU applies (other than applying it as well to Maritime Crew (subclass 988) visas).

DIBP say that the changes aim for a more consistent arrangements parallel to those available to Australian citizens and permanent residents who are seeking to bring their family members to Australia.

In the simplified definition, a person will be a MoFU of the primary applicant, if the person:

  1. is the spouse, or the de facto partner of the “family head”; or
  2. is a child or step child of the family head, or of a spouse, or de facto partner of the family head (other than a child or step child who is engaged to be married or has a spouse or de facto partner) and who:

    a) has not turned 18

    b) has turned 18, but has not turned 23, and is dependent on the family head or on the spouse or de facto partner of the family head

    c) has turned 23 and dependent (as defined) on the family head or on the spouse or de facto partner of the family head

  3. is a dependent child of the person who meets the conditions stated in paragraph 2.

The new regulation preserved prior arrangements:

  • for humanitarian, refugee, and protection visas
  • to recognize the earlier MoFU status, for certain visas, and of those who apply for a visa on the grounds of having satisfied MoFU for their current visa.

So what does “dependent” mean?

The regulations define this by saying that:

(1)Subject to (2) below, a person (the first person) is dependent on another person if:

(a) at the time when it is necessary to establish whether the first person is dependent on the other person:

(i) the first person is, and has been for a substantial period immediately before that time, wholly or substantially reliant on the other person for financial support to meet the first person’s basic needs for food, clothing and shelter; and

(ii)the first person’s reliance on the other person is greater than any reliance by the first person on any other person, or source of support, for financial support to meet the first person’s basic needs for food, clothing and shelter; or

(b) the first person is wholly or substantially reliant on the other person for financial support because the first person is incapacitated for work due to the total or partial loss of the first person’s bodily or mental functions.

(2)A person (the first person) is dependent on another person for the purposes of an application for:

• a protection visa; or

• a Refugee and Humanitarian (Class XB) visa; or

• a Temporary Safe Haven (Class UJ) visa;

if the first person is wholly or substantially reliant on the other person for financial, psychological or physical support.

Australian Visa Law provides assistance to family visas, and our team of registered migration experts will be happy to help.

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English language standards and testing systems: what is required?

The following table gives the various English language testing systems acceptable to DIBP and the scores that you may need to attain on any of those testing systems, in order to meet the various standards of Functional, Vocational, Competent, Proficient or Superior English. 

Alternative English language test scores benchmarked as against the IELTS band-scale

Capture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*From 1 January 2015 and only for a Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) test taken on or after 1 January 2015.

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The Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) – A small snapshot of aspects

Individuals who hold a Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) are allowed to work in Australia for up to 4 years, for a specific employer. They can also bring family members who may work or study in Australia. This visa also allows them to travel in and out of Australia without restrictions.

Before you can apply, you will need:

  • Sponsorship by an approved business.
  • A Nomination by that approved business, for an approved occupation on the Consolidated Sponsored Occupations List (CSOL)
  • To meet the relevant qualifications/skills for the nominated position.
  • To hold registration and license (if required in Australia).
  • To have sufficient English language ability.

In case that your sponsor is a start-up business, or has traded in Australia for less than 12 months, then the validity of the visa granted to you will only be for 18 months.

Pathway to permanency? 

As a holder of a 457 visa, once you have been working for your sponsoring employer for more than 2 years, it is possible for your employer to nominate you for permanent residency through the Temporary Residence Transition stream.

Even in circumstances where you don’t work for that sponsor for more than 2 years, it is sometimes possible to obtain permanency through the “direct entry” stream, if you have a positive skills assessment, have worked in the occupation for at least 3 years and have sufficient English language skills.

Changing your employer:

You are not necessarily required to apply for a new visa, if you choose to change employer. However, you will need to have an approved nomination from your proposed new employer prior to starting with them and of course that new sponsor will need to have been approved.

An approved new nomination does not extend the length of your existing 457 visa.

For any questions or concerns, please comment below or send your enquiries to our Contact Page.

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UN Human Development Ranking: Australia at Rank 2

The United Nations developed the Human Development Index (HDI) as a metric to assess the level of a country’s social and economic development. The HDI summarizes the measure of average achievement in the three fundamental dimensions used to examine the rank of countries:

  • Long and healthy life (life expectancy at birth)
  • Knowledge (mean years and expected years of schooling)
  • A decent standard of living (Gross National Income (GNI) per capita)

The HDI places emphasis on individuals, or more precisely on their opportunities to realize satisfying work and lives. Work is essential to human development. Sustainable work takes place in developed and developing economies, but can differ in terms of the conditions of work, links to human development, and implications of policy.

Evaluating a country’s potential for individual human development provides a supplementary metric for evaluating a country’s level of development besides considering standard economic growth statistics.

On the latest report of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Australia is ranked no. 2. Australia’s HDI score is at 0.935 compared to Norway with 0.944.

Australia might have finished better than Norway if our favourable weather was part of the criteria!

Although Australia ranks at no. 2, the table below does show that Australia’s economic and social development is by far one of the World’s best. It is yet another reason why many individuals and families seek to migrate or work in Australia.

For a more detailed HDI summary, you can view it by clicking HERE.

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Are you a US Citizen and thinking about a working holiday in Australia?

If you’re a US Citizen, aged between 18 to 31 years old, you can easily apply for a “Work and Holiday Visa” to Australia. In fact, at the present moment, the Australian government is considering a potential to increase to a maximum age of 35, but this is still in the pipeline.

At present, the following must be satisfied in order for you to successfully obtain a “Work and Holiday Visa”:

  • You cannot have any dependent children with you while you are in Australia.
  • You need to prove that you have enough money to buy a return or onward travel ticket at the end of your stay.
  • You have to have enough money to support yourself on a working holiday.  This is around AUD $5000 or currently US$3775.
  • You have to meet certain educational requirements.  For US citizens this means that you must hold a secondary school/high school qualification.
  • You have to have functional English.  A US passport is sufficient to prove this.
  • You may need to meet character and health requirements.
  • You may have to prove that you’re a genuine visitor to Australia.

For US nationals the current processing time is around 6 days only and the application can be made online.

The Australian government recently made it possible to obtain a 2nd one year extension of this visa, available for the first time after 19 November 2016, providing that the visa holder meet certain criteria regarding specified work (usually agriculture, forestry, fisheries, tourism and hospitality) in specified areas of Australia (the Northern Territory and northern parts of Western Australia and Queensland) for at least 3 months during the first 12 months stay.

If you satisfy the above requirements, you are now ready to get your application started HERE.

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