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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

FAQS: Changes to Australian Migration Program 2009

Q1 What changes have been announced for the Skilled Migration program?

The changes announced to the skilled migration program by the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship are:
  • a new section 499 ministerial direction on priority processing
  • the introduction of a critical skills list (CSL)
  • greater scope for state and territory governments to meet critical skills shortages in their jurisdiction.

Q2 What applicants will receive priority processing?

The new priority processing Direction gives priority to applications with employer sponsorship, state or territory sponsorship, business skills and those with an occupation on the CSL.

Q3 When will these changes be introduced?

These changes will be effective from 1 January 2009.

Q4 Why have these changes been introduced?

In the 2008 Budget, the skill stream of the migration program for 2008-09 was significantly increased to 133 500 places as part of the Government’s strategy to counter the risk of increased inflation due to pressure on the growth of wages. However, since the 2008 Budget, there has been a significant change in Australia’s economic circumstances as a result of the recent global financial crisis.

This crisis has weakened the Australian economy, as reflected in the recent Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) forecasts. In response to these changes in circumstances, the minister has announced a more targeted approach to the 2008-09 skilled migration program. This announcement includes priority processing of employer sponsored, state and regional sponsored and business skills visas and the introduction of a CSL of occupations. People seeking to migrate to Australia who have skills or qualifications in one of the occupations on the CSL will be processed in a higher priority to those applicants who do not. This will include all applications that are on hand at the time of the announcement as well as any applications received in the future.

Q5 Are these changes temporary or permanent?

The skilled migration program is continually reviewed and assessed for its relevance and outcomes in light of the economic and social needs of Australia. The program is modified as these needs change.

Q6 Will the program be capped, either officially or unofficially?

If the processing of priority categories does not consume all of the department’s processing resources, there are a number of legislative based tools available to the minister to manage the skilled application pipeline, if necessary, including suspension of processing or capping the number of visas to be issued.

Q7 Is there any difference in processing between onshore and offshore programs?

No, the new priority processing will affect onshore and offshore applications equally.

Q8 What occupations or industries are being affected?

Occupations that are not included in the CSL will not be given priority processing unless applicants are sponsored by an employer or sponsored or nominated by a state or territory government.

Q9 How can states and territories sponsor people?

States and territories can sponsor people who have an occupation on their state skills shortage list and they may also sponsor up to 500 people a year who do not have occupations on their state list. Applicants should directly approach the state or territory in which they wish to live to enquire about sponsorship.

Q10 How many people can states and territories bring in under the state and territory skills shortage list?

The number of potential migrants which each state or territory can sponsor from their skills shortage list is unlimited, barring the total skilled migration program’s ceiling being reached. However, each state and territory is allocated a quota of 500 off-list nominations per program year from occupations included on the Skilled Occupations List (SOL) but not on the state’s skills shortage list. These off-list nominations are in addition to the nominations from the state skills shortage list.

Q11 What is the state skills shortage list?

Each state compiles its own skills shortage list. Each state or territory can sponsor potential migrants with skills in an occupation included on their skills shortage list for a GSM visa. Applicants sponsored by a state or territory government receive an additional 10 points on the GSM points test.

Q12 Is there any restriction on the types of skills that states and territories can bring in under the state skills shortage list?

The state skills shortage lists identify occupations believed to be in shortage in each jurisdiction. The only limitation is that occupations included on the state skills shortage lists must also be listed on the GSM SOL.

Q13 Can the states and territories bring in people with skills that are not on the CSL?

Yes, states and territories may sponsor applicants who have nominated an occupation which is on the SOL but is not on the CSL. They may use their 500 off-list nominations to sponsor other applicants.

Q14 What is happening to the Migration Occupations in Demand List (MODL)?

There have been no changes to the points allocated for MODL. The MODL will be reviewed as necessary to determine any changes required for its continued use for skilled migration purposes. Under the section 499 direction, general skilled migration applicants who nominate an occupation from the MODL will receive priority processing after those applicants who nominate an occupation from the CSL and those applicants sponsored or nominated by a state or territory government.

Q15 When will the review of the MODL be undertaken?

It is expected that the review of the MODL will be undertaken in early 2009.

Q16 What subclasses have been affected by this announcement?

The introduction of the CSL and the changes to the processing priorities will affect applications for most GSM subclasses, including those lodged after 1 January 2009 and those already lodged but not yet granted. Applicants for subclasses 485 and 887 will not be affected by this change.

Q17 How many grants were made in 2007-08 for skills that are now on the CSL?

During program year 2007-08, there were 23 424 grants made to all subclasses for occupations that are now on the CSL.

Q18 Where do agents/clients enquire about specific cases?

In the first instance, agents and clients should refer to the information available on the department’s website. This will provide valuable background information on the changes and possible implications.

Where an agent or client’s question is not answered by the information available on the website, they can contact the

General Skilled Migration line on:
  • 1300 364 613 (in Australia) for the cost of a local call
  • +61 1300 364 613 (outside Australia) (Charges applicable in your home country will apply.)

Q19 What is the feedback mechanism for general queries about the change?

General enquiries about the changes should be referred to the information available on the department’s website. Where more specific information is required, clients can contact the General Skilled Migration line on:
  • 1300 364 613 (in Australia) for the cost of a local call
  • +61 1300 364 613 (outside Australia) (Charges applicable in your home country will apply.)

Q20 Has something like this happened before?

In 1997, the department introduced priority processing in the partner migration program. In that instance, applicants sponsored by an Australian citizen with children were given priority. The MODL is updated periodically, based on DEEWR labour market research, to meet the changing skill shortages in Australia.

Q21 What is the processing priority going to be now?

The new priority processing direction gives priority processing to permanent applications in the following order:
  • employer sponsorship
  • state or territory sponsorship
  • an occupation on the CSL
  • an occupation on the MODL
  • and then all other applications.
The new priority processing direction gives priority processing to provisional applications in the following order:
  • state or territory sponsorship
  • family sponsorship where the applicant’s occupation is listed on the CSL
  • and then all other applications.
Q22 What will happen to those applications which are in the final stages of processing and where the department has requested applicants to provide health and character clearances?

Those applications which are currently close to being finalised, will be finalised by the department, subject to health and character clearances.

Q1 How will these changes impact on international students?

Australia has a well-deserved reputation for high-quality education and training. We continue to welcome overseas students, and appreciate the contribution they make to both academic life and the communities in which they live. There are no changes being proposed to the student visa program itself. The pathway from a student visa to GSM also remains in place. However, applying for a student visa and applying for General Skilled Migration (GSM) are separate processes. It is important to note that student visas are aimed at achieving an educational outcome. GSM on the other hand is predominantly driven by the labour market needs of Australia.

Q2 I am an international student, can I still apply for permanent residence?

International students who were eligible for permanent residence before these changes will still be eligible for permanent residence. International students who have graduated from an Australian education provider and meet other necessary requirements will still be eligible to apply for permanent residence under the GSM program. Student visa holders will still need to meet the points test and basic eligibility requirements such as having the required level of English language proficiency and having completed a degree, diploma or trade qualification resulting from at least two academic years of study in Australia.

While the requirements for GSM have not changed, Australia continually adjusts and reviews its migration program to ensure it meets changing needs and circumstances. Prospective permanent visa applicants should continue to monitor the website for changes.

Q3 The course I am studying will not allow me to qualify for an occupation on the Critical Skills List (CSL), can I still apply for a permanent residence visa?

These changes do not impact on the application requirements for GSM. The points test and requirements for General Skilled Migration have not changed. Students studying in courses leading to 50- or 60-point occupations on the Skilled Occupation List (SOL) will still be eligible to apply for GSM. Students with 60-point occupations will also still be eligible for additional points on the points test if that occupation is listed on the Migration Occupations in Demand List (MODL). The SOL and MODL have not changed. Eligible applicants with occupations not on the CSL will still be able to apply for GSM. However, their visa applications will not be processed as quickly. Those people nominating occupations on the CSL will be given processing priority.

Q4 What visas other than skill stream visas can I access?

International students holding a student visa can continue to apply for other temporary or permanent visas provided that they meet the necessary eligibility criteria.

Q5 The course I am studying will not allow me to qualify for an occupation on the Critical Skills List - Can I enrol in another course?

Students wishing to change course should firstly discuss with their education provider how this can be done. Those students who wish to change to a course in a different education sector may also need to apply for a Student visa of a different subclass and should contact the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC).

Q6 I am an education provider with students enrolled in a course that will not allow them to qualify for an occupation on the CSL and these students are now withdrawing their enrolment. Is the Government going to compensate me?

No. The Government has not made any changes to international education or student visa policy. There is no reason why a provider cannot continue to offer the same courses. The occupations eligible for GSM have not changed. The changes will only impact on those students who apply for GSM on graduation. The change will mean faster visa processing for applicants with a job offer or who are sponsored by a State or Territory Government or who have an occupation on the CSL.The government changes GSM visa requirements in response to economic conditions and labour market needs. As such, the government makes no guarantees that courses delivered by education providers in response to students seeking a permanent migration outcome will continue to assist them in meeting this goal.

Q7 What further changes are proposed for the student program?

At this time, there are no changes proposed to the student visa program. Applying for a student visa and applying for General Skilled Migration (GSM) are separate processes. GSM requirements may be altered in future in response to changing economic circumstances. The Government is focused on shifting the outcome of the migration program to a more industry driven model where employer sponsored visas become a significant pathway to permanent residence. Further changes along this direction will potentially be made in the future.

Q1 Do these changes affect my 457 application?

No.

Q2 Can I apply for GSM while I hold a 457 Visa?

Yes, you can apply for an offshore GSM visa in Australia as a holder of 457 visa as long as you meet the threshold requirements. However, as this is an offshore category visa, you must be outside Australia at the time of grant and you will not be eligible for a bridging visa.

Migration Agent Registration Number: 0964018

23 comments:

Yogesh said...

Hi Junaid...

I have referred myself to you earlier as well. I really appreciate the word of advice you are putting on this blog of yours.
I have no-one whom I could refer to in the situation that I am in.

Applied for: GSM 886 Visa
(Family Sponsorship)

Lodgement Date: 23 July, 2008

Occupation: Computing Pros (nec)

Have been caught up badly in the Priority Processing thing announced by the DIAC. I have given so much of valour and hardwork into this whole process which I am aware many others do as well.

But seeing me queued up last on the Priority Processing thing, I am beginning to loose it by the day, now.

The hope seems to be dying (the hope that DIAC would process my case one day).

Any chances that it may get processed by the end of this year. Feeling quite relentless and helpless at this stage of my life.

Kind Regards.

Junaid N. Sahibzada said...

@Yogesh

Priority queue doesnt mean your application will never be processed. It only means that its time will come a little late then the time of others.

Kind Regards

Junaid

inam said...

hello junaid , i am an accounting student, and i wish to apply for p/r based on my graduate diploma ie 9 subjects, i have immediate family but my course duration is less than 2 years . kindly advice

Junaid N. Sahibzada said...

@^^

You need to study for at least 92 weeks in courses recognized by CRICOS and finish the course to be eligible for applying for PR.

Kind Regards

Junaid

Manish (manishchauhan.bits@gmail.com) said...

Hi Junaid,

Have been following your blog since quite sometime(a year or so :) ) and must congratulate you for the commendable job you've done .

I understand you did your MSc.in Internetworking from UTS.I am interested in pursuing and have applied for the same.More than anything else i was very impressed with the way the course has been structured.I plan to major in Network Security.

I need your opinion and advice on 2 things :

1>What are the employment prospects for international students graduating out of this course?

Would be great if you could recount the names of a few firms which recruited the graduates of this program in your time , the AVERAGE COMPENSATION OFFERED,and the %ge of total batch placed .

2>I have a very good profile(graduating from Department of Computer Science at BITS Pilani,India-top ranked along with the IIT's in india).Currently in my finals semester ,i have job offers from ORACLE (where i did my 6 months professional internship)and Microsoft.

My concern is ,that elsewhere on the net i have mostly found people bashing UTS to be a very average university (a lil better than a TAFE college).

I believe i have had enough of theory during my Bachelors in Computer Science,i want a course which is more practical oriented and technology focused.does the MSC in Internetworking at UTS fit the bill?.

Thanking in Anticipation,

Manish

Junaid N. Sahibzada said...

@Manish

1>What are the employment prospects for international students graduating out of this course?

Employment prospects depends upon the following two main things.

1. Work rights and permanent residency

2. Work experience and skills.

If you dont have the above two, your prospects of getting a job are almost nil.



Would be great if you could recount the names of a few firms which recruited the graduates of this program in your time , the AVERAGE COMPENSATION OFFERED,and the %ge of total batch placed .

Well I was offered a graduate position in Alcatel. Most Australian companies offer graduate positions a base salary of 40K AUD.

I dont know what happened to the rest of the batch.



2>I have a very good profile(graduating from Department of Computer Science at BITS Pilani,India-top ranked along with the IIT's in india).Currently in my finals semester ,i have job offers from ORACLE (where i did my 6 months professional internship)and Microsoft.

My concern is ,that elsewhere on the net i have mostly found people bashing UTS to be a very average university (a lil better than a TAFE college).


I have explained again and again to many ppl that when you go for job interviews in Australia, what university you studied from and what the ranking of the university matters very little.

Your prospects of getting a good job are dependent upon

1. Work rights

2. Work experience and industry certifications.

Regarding your concerns of UTS being a TAFE level university; there might be courses which are not good at UTS and there would be others which are very good at UTS.

So you need to check the individual course and compare it with the same course being offered by other universities and see which one is better.

I have already explained your question in the following post

http://study-n-australia.blogspot.com/2007/10/plssss-haaalp-which-uni-to-chose.html



I believe i have had enough of theory during my Bachelors in Computer Science,i want a course which is more practical oriented and technology focused.does the MSC in Internetworking at UTS fit the bill?.


Yes it does. It is all lab work except for two subjects.

Kind Regards

Junaid

Junaid N. Sahibzada said...

@Manish

If you have job offers from Oracle and Microsoft, you would be an idiot to give them up and come here to spend another $50,000 AUD.

Get work experience before you come here.

Kind Regards

Junaid

Manish said...

Hi junaid ..

Thanks for your prompt response.It helped.

The thing is i have plans to settle in Australia or move on to europe later.

I understand that If i opt for the 2 year extended version of the course,that will make me eligible for a PR status .

Will that suffice towards grabbing a job in Aus job market ?.

Yes,i have job offers from Oracle(where i spent my last 6 months and it wasn't such a fantastic experience to be honest doing regular IT work ..) and Microsoft (I ve been selected for an R & D profile ..but the joining is very delayed ...by dec or so ).

But my heart lies in Networking.I am already a CCNA .and all my work over the last 3-4 years (including an award winning paper on network security)has been about networks and security.

Doesn't it makes sense for me to opt for an advanced program like the one at UTS to get my hands dirty with some practical experience?

One more Q .Are the average salaries of Networking professionals lesser than those of application programmers in Aus ?

Thanks for the help again ..

Regards,

Manish

Junaid N. Sahibzada said...

@Manish

Yes,i have job offers from Oracle(where i spent my last 6 months and it wasn't such a fantastic experience to be honest doing regular IT work ..) and Microsoft (I ve been selected for an R & D profile ..but the joining is very delayed ...by dec or so ).

But my heart lies in Networking.I am already a CCNA .and all my work over the last 3-4 years (including an award winning paper on network security)has been about networks and security.


If you like networks then why dont you join Cisco systems of Juniper?

India has lots of top computer networking IT company's with their TACs and R & D centres in India.

My suggestion would be to get experience in the field in which you are interested.

The degree at UTS is similar to studying CCNA, CCNP, CISSP and Voice over two years with some subjects of Unix and web programming.


Doesn't it makes sense for me to opt for an advanced program like the one at UTS to get my hands dirty with some practical experience?

The best practical experience would be to work in a company in a field in which you are interested in. For example Cisco, Juniper, 3Com etc.

At UTS you would only get 4 hours of lab time per week.

One more Q .Are the average salaries of Networking professionals lesser than those of application programmers in Aus ?

As I mentioned earlier, salaries and job depend upon skill and work experience. Most plumbers and hair dressers earn as much as IT professionals in Australia.


Kind Regards

Junaid

Manish said...

Hello junaid ,

Thanks for the practical advice :)

You are right ,India has centers of all the top IT firms.But,unfortunately in mid of this recession ,CISCO opted to not visit for campus placements and there is an apparent hiring freeze right now.But it seems what i wrote in very beginning of my comment ,seems to have escaped your notice.

1>In the long term,i have plans to settle abroad.

2>I understand that the program will lend me :
-->International Exposure ,
-->A relevant advanced degree as well as
--->the opportunity for a PR in Australia (which may get more and more difficult in the coming years).

Moreover as far as i know CISCO does not recruits ANY freshers for a network security or any related role in India.The low salaries are another concern.I have seniors working at CISCO ,and (though paid really well compared to other -Indian-IT companies) all they do is work on PERL tools,java coding ...something which doesn't excites me enough.

So alternatively, i thought i would rather go to Aus,Strengthen my skills in the field of my choice ,get an advanced degree and at the same time gain nationality of a first rate country.Makes Sense?

Please note that though this is my analysis of things ,i seek your advice as i feel you have gone through more or less exactly the same path.I do not have a very strong financial background and would be banking on my chances of being able to pull off a decent job and work in australia for another year or so to pay off my loan.

I am sorry if i am bothering you a bit too much,but i feel i can relate to you and trust you for a realistic and practical advice.

Regards,

Manish

Junaid N. Sahibzada said...

@Manish

But it seems what i wrote in very beginning of my comment ,seems to have escaped your notice.

1>In the long term,i have plans to settle abroad.


No it didnt escape my notice. That is the ultimate reason every one wants to come to Australia.

Prioritize your tasks accordingly.

If you want to settle abroad, you need to get permanent residency. Period.


So alternatively, i thought i would rather go to Aus,Strengthen my skills in the field of my choice ,get an advanced degree and at the same time gain nationality of a first rate country.Makes Sense?

The best way to strengthen your skills is by gaining work experience. Not studying another degree.


Please note that though this is my analysis of things ,i seek your advice as i feel you have gone through more or less exactly the same path.I do not have a very strong financial background and would be banking on my chances of being able to pull off a decent job and work in australia for another year or so to pay off my loan.

And what happens if you cannot find a decent job?

If you are an international student in Australia, you are only allowed to work 20 hours per week.

Hence the chances of getting a decent job are very few.

The crux of my advice is that if possible get some work experience before coming to Australia. It will help you greatly.

Kind Regards

Junaid

Manish said...

Hi junaid ,

Thanks for the prompt reply again :).

So you believe the best thing to do at this stage would be to go ahead with joining Oracle/Microsoft for another year or so and apply next year ? .

That will make up for an experience of 1.5 years as a J2EE Application developer (nothing with networking though :( ) and maybe parallely move to studying for CCSP on my own.

Do you use any messenger ? .Can i add you up there ?.I am available on gtalk at manishchauhan.bits@gmail.com.

I really appreciate your help .Thanks again :) :).Have a great day

Junaid N. Sahibzada said...

@Manish

For purpose of remaining employed, join either of them but since you like IP networks, keep searching for a job in networks. At least have 1 and if possible 2 yrs of work experience before you come here.

I prefer replying through the blog so others can also benefit.

Kind Regards

Junaid

anG said...

he best way to strengthen your skills is by gaining work experience. Not studying another degree.

pleace add my blog

satheesh said...

Hello Junaid,I have got an admit from ANU for Masters IT/Master of computing 2 yrs.I have also got an admit from University of San Francisco (silicon valley bay area, more opportunities, good course work) computer science. And I am finding it difficult to decide between the two! My priority is getting settled down so I am inclined towards ANU(good ranking & reputed university too),while I don't know much about Aus opportunities I pretty much know that US has plenty if I complete my MS in USF!
What would you suggest Mate. Primarily I would like to get a PR soon but concerned abt opportunities in aus and about immigration after studies.Have an IELTS 7.5..hoping to get valuable advice to clear my ambiguity ..after studies,jobs,Getting PR etc in AUS

satheesh said...

Mate I have got an admit from ANU for MIT/Master of computing 2 yrs.I have also got an admit from University of San Francisco (silicon valley bay area, more opportunities, good course work) computer science. And I am finding it difficult to decide between the two! My priority is getting settled down so I am inclined towards ANU(good ranking & reputed university too),while I don't know much about Aus opportunities I pretty much know that US has plenty if I complete my MS in USF!
What would you suggest Mate. Primarily I would like to get a PR soon but concerned abt opportunities in aus and about immigration after studies...hoping to get valuable advice to clear my ambiguity ..after studies,jobs,getting PR etc in AUS

Junaid N. Sahibzada said...

@Sateesh

As you have mentioned yourself, your aim is to get a PR in Australia some thing which you will not get in the US, then I would recommend studying in ANU.

Please remember that no matter how good you are, you still need work rights to be able to get the job.

So if you graduate from US and do not have work rights, all the opportunities would be closed on you.

So first try to get work rights.

Kind Regards

Junaid

Farid said...

Salam Junaid,

one of my friend who is a mechanical engineer. He has cleared all his courses of B.Sc in mechanical engineering in 6 years instead of 4 years . There were a few subjects he needed to clear after 4 years of undergraduate studies and he has cleared that in the last 2 years. since after 4 years of undergraduate studies there were few courses to be cleared, an employer offered him a full time job inspite of the fact that degree requirements were not complete. Over the last two years he has been working full time as mechanical engineer with that firm. Now as he has cleared the remaining courses for degree requirements, he is planning to apply for immigration based on two years expereince that he has acquired while his degree courses were not complete.
Can he apply for immigration claiming MODL points and 60 points for SOL....

Junaid N. Sahibzada said...

@Farid

Your friend can lodge an application for offshore skilled migrant visa 175/176 if

1. He has a positive skills assessment for a profession on SOL.

2. He has at least one yr of work experience in the profession.

3. He has a minimum of 6 in all modules of IELTS.

4. He is scoring the pass marks in the points test.

It doesnt matter if he completed his degree while he was working

Kind Regards

Junaid

Fernando said...

Hi Juanid,

I'm on a bridging visa for 485 (graduate temporary residency) - I want my partner to join me on my current visa.

She has a working holiday visa and it expires in two weeks. Can I add her to my application even though mine hasn't been decided?

I appreciate your help.

Fernando.

Junaid N. Sahibzada said...

@Fernando

I didnt understand your question.

Have you applied for the 485 visa and waiting for the outcome of the application or you are on a 485 visa and have applied for another visa and waiting its outcome?

Please clarify and I will be able to give you an answer.

Kind Regards

Junaid

Fernando said...

Hi Juanid,

I've applied for 485 already, I'm currently waiting for the outcome. They granted me a bridging visa - can I add my partner to the current application? She doesn't have a 8503 condition. Her visa which is a bridging visa as well expires in two weeks (they gave her the 28 days notice)

Thanks!

Junaid N. Sahibzada said...

@Fernando

You can find the relevant information regarding inclusion of partners in visa 485 by visiting the following link.


http://www.immi.gov.au/skilled/general-skilled-migration/485/eligibility.htm