Immigration and the Budget
The Australian Government presented the 2019/2020 budget on Tuesday 2 April 2019, and as usual there were plenty of changes announced affecting the Immigration portfolio.
Lodgement Fee Increase
From 1 July 2019, visa application charges will increase for all visas except the Subclass 600 Visitor visas. The planned increase of 5.4% will see base application fees for a permanent skilled visa rise by just over $200 for a primary applicant, for a Graduate visa the increase will be just over $80, and for Partner visas there will be a whopping increase of $386.
Second Visa Application Charges, such as those for Parent visas and non-functional English for dependents will not be affected.
Cut to Immigration Numbers
The maximum number of visas available for the 2019/2020 program year will be lowered to 160,000, with the most significant cuts from the Skilled Independent and Employer Sponsored visa types. This is to make way for 23,000 places in the new regional visa program announced for November 2019.
Push to regional Australia
As we reported earlier, Immigration plans to introduce three new visas aimed at attracting migrants to regional areas of Australia. From 1 November 2019, the provisional employer sponsored and provisional work visas would be available, with the permanent Skilled Regional visa available from November 2022.
The definition of ‘regional’ will be simplified to include anywhere outside of Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, so migrants can look at places like Queensland’s North coast and Toowoomba, New South Wales’ Northern Rivers, Central coast, and Hunter Valley, Geelong and the Grampians region in Victoria, and anywhere in South Australia, Tasmania, and the Northern Territory.
Closure of existing regional visas
The current permanent Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (subclass 187) visa and the State Nominated temporary regional visa (subclass 489) will be discontinued when the new regional visas come into effect. Existing visa holders and applications lodged before this date will not be affected.
For people considering regional options, this means that the current regional visa subclasses will be replaced by new regional visa subclasses. The major change proposed so far is that requirement to live in the region will increase from 2 to 3 years.
Longer stay for International Graduates
From 2021, International Students who complete their studies in regional Australia and continue to remain in regional Australia on their graduate visa will be able to apply for a further one-year post study work visa.
New scholarships will be available for international and domestic students to study in regional areas, for higher education and vocational education qualifications.
GSM Points Test Changes
From 1 November 2019, the skilled migration points test will be adjusted to award additional points to applicants where their partner has competent English but cannot meet the other requirements for skilled partner points. Single applicants will not be disadvantaged as there will be other additional points available, however, there is no detail on how these points are to be gained.
SAF revenue down
The budget reported that the revenue from the Skilling Australians Fund levy is forecast to be $126 million less than originally forecast for the four years to 2022-23, due to lower than expected demand for employer sponsored visas. However, a number of large infrastructure projects were also announced in the budget which may well require employers to bring in more skilled workers from overseas.
People interested in applying for a RSMS visa or 489 visa should ensure these are lodged by the end of October to be eligible under the current rules.
Everyone else who is looking to apply for a visa should try to lodge before 1 July 2019 (if possible) to avoid the fee increases, or start making plans to cover these additional costs.
Regional Skilled Visas and New Points Test
New Subclass 491 Skilled Work Regional visa
Even though it will not come into effect until 16 November 2019 , the legislation for the new visa is now available. This is great news as it will allow people to really plan for the end of the year. There are still some gaps in the information (such as what the occupation list will look like) but here are the highlights.
There will be a new definition for what is a regional area in Australia and this will apply to all references to a regional area, including the points allocated for regional study in Australia. The area appears to be defined as all of Australia outside the metropolitan areas of Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth; though no postcodes are available as yet so we are not sure what a metropolitan area will mean.
Most of the requirements for the visa will be similar to the current subclass 489 visa (which will cease when this visa comes in). The applicant will still need to be nominated by a state or territory or sponsored by a family member living in a designated area as defined above. There will be an invitation to apply for the visa, the applicant has to be under 45 years old, have competent English, and meet the points test.
Changes to the points test
There are some exciting changes for all points-tested Skilled visa applications from 16 November 2019 . New points will be available as follows:
- If you have a partner who is skilled with competent English (current requirement) there will be 10 points rather than 5
- If you do not have a partner or your partner is an Australian citizen or permanent resident, you will also get 10 points
- If you have a partner who has competent English only, there will be 5 points to be gained
- Specialist education points (where you study in Australia in a Master or PhD course with certain broad and narrow fields as defined in CRICOS) will increase from 5 to 10 points
- Designated regional nomination or sponsorship points will also increase from 10 to 15 points
The visa will be valid for 5 years but have strict reporting and compliance conditions to ensure that the main applicant and all family members only live, work and study in a designated regional area.
After three years of holding the subclass 491 visa, you can apply for a Subclass 191 Permanent Resident (Skilled Regional) visa. You must have complied with all the conditions of your visa, and provide three years of tax assessment notices showing a taxable income above a certain level (the amount has not yet been announced).
Migration program planning levels
The Migration program is designed to achieve a range of economic and social outcomes. The program is set annually, with the total places available capped at a ceiling of 160,000 for 2019-20. The total program is broken down into the following streams:
- Skill – designed to improve the productive capacity of the economy and fill skill shortages in the labour market, including those in regional Australia. The majority of the places in the program are in the Skill stream (108,682 places in 2019-20, 69.5 per cent of the program).
- Family – is predominately made up of Partner visas, enabling Australians to reunite with family members from overseas, and provide them with pathways to citizenship (47,732 places in 2019-20, 30.5 per cent of the program).
- Special Eligibility – this covers visas for those in special circumstances. This can include permanent residents returning to Australia after a period away, and is the smallest stream (236 places in 2019-20).
- At least 3,350 Child places will be available in 2019-20.
|Stream and Category||2019-2020|
|Skilled Employer Sponsored||9,000|
|Skilled Work Regional||14,000|
|Business Innovation & Investment program||6,862|
|Child (estimate; not subject to a ceiling)||3,350|
Program size and composition
The size and composition of the Migration program is set each year through the Australian Government’s Budget process. It is informed following broad public consultations with state and territory governments, business and community groups and the wider public. Community views, economic and labour force forecasts, international research, net overseas migration and economic and fiscal modelling are all taken into account when planning the program.
Skilled Occupation List Changes March 2019
On 11 March Immigration introduced a number of new occupation lists affecting General Skilled and Employer-sponsored migration. This update follows a review and consultation period with the Department of Jobs and Small Business, to ensure that ‘the entry of skilled foreign workers to Australia remains carefully calibrated to Australia’s needs’.
There is great news for the sciences, as a number of occupations in this area have been added to the Medium and Long Term Skills Shortage List (MLTSSL). This makes skilled independent migration possible for Life Scientists, Biotechnologists, Environmental Research Scientists, and Microbiologists.
In total, 36 occupations have been added, as follows:
- Artistic Director
- Arts Administrator or Manager
- Dancer or Choreographer
- Engineering Professionals NEC
- Environmental Consultant
- Environmental Manager
- Environmental Research Scientist
- Environmental Scientists NEC
- Food Technologist
- Horse Trainer
- Life Scientist (General)
- Life Scientists NEC
- Marine Biologist
- Mining Engineer (excluding Petroleum)
- Multimedia Specialist
- Music Director
- Musician (Instrumental)
- Natural and Physical Science Professionals NEC
- Petroleum Engineer
- Software and Applications Programmers NEC
- Tennis Coach
- University Lecturer
The Short-Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) has seen a number of changes, with 27 occupations removed; though most have gone to the Regional Occupation List (ROL).
Please note there are different occupation lists for Skilled Migration and Employer Sponsored migration – even though they have the same names. It is critical to ensure that you are looking at the correct occupation list for your chosen visa type.
New Temporary Sponsored Parent Visa
It has been announced on March the 4th that the new five-year sponsored parent visa, the Parent (Temporary) (870) visa, will be open for applications from 17 April 2019.
Who is eligible for the temporary Sponsored Parent visa?
To be eligible for the visa, a parent must be the biological, adoptive, or step-parent of the sponsor, who must be an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident, or eligible New Zealand citizen. Unlike the permanent Parent visa options there is no Balance of Family test as part of the application process.
Sponsorship applications can be made from 17 April 2019 and only two parents per household can be sponsored for this visa at a time. Once the sponsorship application has been approved, a sponsored parent will be able to apply for the visa and it is anticipated that visa applications will be open from 1 July 2019.
Upon grant, the visa is valid for five years and will allow the parent to remain in Australia for the full period without departing. To re-apply for a further five-year visa the parent needs to depart Australia for a period of at least 90 days before they may a new application. A parent is only able to remain in Australia on the Parent (Temporary) (870) visa for a maximum of 10 years. It is important to note that this is a temporary visa and does not allow permanent residence in Australia.
How many Temporary Sponsored Parent visas are available?
The Government has announced a cap of 15,000 per year on the numbers of visas that will be granted.
The visa application charges are:
- $5,000 for a visa of up to three years; or
- $10,000 for a visa of up to five years.
Government Fundraising or Money Grab? Millions Collected from Australian Businesses
A recent Freedom of Information (FOI) report, shared by the Migration Institute of Australia, implies a staggering $7 million dollars has potentially been taken by the Australian Government for Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) nomination applications that went nowhere.
The FOI report shows the number of TSS nominations that have been refused or withdrawn under a standard business sponsorship between 14 August 2018 and 31 December 2018, with a shocking 2324 failed applications over a 4-month period.
This money has been generated via the Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) levy, a fee payable per applicant, per year of nomination, with an amount based on the turnover of the company (under or over $10 million per annum). Payments into the SAF are intended to be used to fund apprenticeships and traineeships in the vocational education sector in order to “boost the number of people who choose and succeed in this pathway and help address skills shortages across Australia”
The SAF – payable up-front and in full at the time of lodgement – is not refunded if the TSS Nomination application is refused or withdrawn. In fact, there is no legislative ability to even apply for a refund on this basis!
Representatives of the Migration Institute of Australia have been canvassing politicians on the subject of SAF payments and refunds – even going directly to Canberra to raise the issues – but there have been no reports on what has been discussed or decided.
It is surprising that business groups do not appear to be complaining about this money-raising exercise, as many of these applications would have been lodged by businesses themselves.
The moral of the story? It is crucial to ensure that your TSS Nomination application is accurate, compliant, and complete. Not only could your business miss out on skilled workers to meet your needs, you could also incur losses of thousands of dollars that cannot be recovered.
Australia among the top 10 nations for Quality of life and Citizenship
The latest survey by US News and World Report reiterates the status of Australia as one of the best nations for immigrant aspirants. In this survey, Australia has been ranked among the 10 nations globally for Quality of life & Citizenship.
Australia has always been an attraction for individuals seeking PR Visa and Citizenship in an advanced nation. It has time and again proved to the best nation for obtaining Permanent Residency status.
The US News and World Report hold a survey annually. This is into 80 nations globally and interviews 20,000 plus citizens. The survey ranks the nations based on several parameters of human life. The Land of Kangaroos is, in fact, the 3rd best nation globally for a comfortable retirement, as quoted by the SBS.
The Land Down Under is ranked 7th globally for Quality of life and 8th for Citizenship. This demonstrates its position as a favoured nation for immigrants for PR Visa and settlement.
The top ranking is also vital to understand specifically when we discuss the latest immigration policies and stance of the Australian Government.
The federal Australian Government has attempted streamlining the immigration process. It has also taken some tough decisions in this regard. Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that the nation continues to remain a top overseas destination for PR Visa. It is clear from the latest ranking that large numbers of individuals continue to prefer Australian Citizenship.
Mid-year update to the Immigration South Australia occupation lists
Mid-year update to the Immigration SA occupation lists
Immigration SA has conducted a mid-year review of its occupation lists – the State Nominated Occupation List (SNOL) and the Supplementary Skilled List (SSL), with some limited changes as a result (Note: the lists undergo greater change at each new program year).
Changes will take effect on the afternoon of 11 February 2019. Four occupations have been changed to 489 provisional visa only for offshore applicants and this change is effective immediately.
Occupations added to the SNOL for the remainder of the 2018-19 program year
|ANZSCO||Occupation||Additional Requirements||Skills Assessment Authority|
|323299||Metal Fitters and Machinists nec||Competent English||TRA|
|351211||Butcher or Smallgoods Maker||Competent English||TRA
Occupations on the SNOL with “Special conditions” status to be removed
(and therefore accessible to more offshore applicants).
|ANZSCO||Occupation||Any other changes to existing requirements?|
|149212||Customer Service Manager||No|
|254415||Registered Nurse (Critical Care and Emergency)||No|
|254418||Registered Nurse (Medical)||No|
|254424||Registered Nurse (Surgical)||No|
|254425||Registered Nurse (Paediatrics)||No|
|312311||Electrical Engineering Draftsperson||No|
|312312||Electrical Engineering Technician||No|
|323214||Metal Machinist (First Class)||No|
|411713||Family Support Worker||No|
|612115||Real Estate Representative||Yes – increase in English requirement to “Proficient Plus English (or Superior overall)”.|
Please note that many of these occupations will be reinstated at “Low Availability” due to the small number of places available.
Occupations on the SSL with the restriction on offshore applicants lifted
|ANZSCO||Occupation||Any other changes to existing requirements?|
|241213||Primary School Teacher||Yes – see below under “Other changes”|
|511112||Program or Project Administrator||No|
English level changes
|ANZSCO||Occupation||SA List||Reduced/ Increased||New English requirement (Minimum)|
|ANZSCO 121 grouping||All Farm Manager/ Grower occupations*||SNOL & SSL||Reduced||Competent English|
|224112||Mathematician||SNOL||Reduced||Competent Plus English (or Proficient overall)|
|612115||Real Estate Representative||SNOL||Increased||Proficient Plus English (or Superior overall)|
* Immigration SA does not offer nomination for the occupations of Cotton Grower and Sugar Cane Grower on either the SNOL or SSL.
Visa subclass availability (please note this change is effective immediately)
|Early Childhood (Pre-Primary School) Teacher||
Introduction of requirement: “Offshore applicants Provisional 489 visa only” (previously the 489 or 190 visa was available)
Primary School Teacher
Middle School Teacher
Secondary School Teacher
|391111||Hairdresser||SNOL||Removal of the requirement that if qualification was obtained in Australia, this must have been achieved in South Australia.
What changes can you see in Australian immigration in 2019?
There have been quite a few changes in the Australian immigration scene in 2018. Scott Morrison, PM of Australia, announced the slashing of immigration numbers. On the other hand, more opportunities for immigrants in regional areas were created.
Here are the changes that you can see in Australian immigration in 2019:
- Pathway to PR created for low-skilled immigrants
The Australian Govt. has signed the DAMA (Designated Area Migration Agreement) with Northern Territory and Victoria. The DAMA will lower the English, income, and skill level requirements for migrants working in the regional areas of these two states. The Agreement will also offer a pathway to PR for these migrants.
- New Parent Visa
Australia will make available a new temporary sponsored Parent Visa in the first half of 2019. This Visa will allow parents of Australian migrants to live in Australia for up to 5 years. Applicants would be able to choose between a 3-year Visa and a 5-year Visa. The 3-year visa would cost $5,000 while the 5-year Visa would cost $10,000. The new Parent Visas would be renewable for up to 10 years. Migrants, however, would only be able to sponsor one set of parents.
- New sponsorship framework for Partner Visas
The Australian Govt. passed the Migration Amendments Bill (Family Violence and Other Measures) in November 2018. The Bill put into place a new sponsorship framework which will now make applying for a Partner Visa a two-step process. The sponsor in Australia will first need to submit a sponsorship application. The Partner Visa can only be lodged after the sponsorship application is approved. The processing time for the sponsorship application will be around 12 weeks.
- New Entrepreneur Visa in South Australia
South Australia will launch a new Entrepreneur Visa which does not have any investment requirement. Unlike other Business and Innovation Visas, this Visa will not require the applicants to have any capital outlay. Applicants would be able to come to Australia under the Subclass 408 (Temporary Activity) and also include their family in their application. The validity of the Visa would be up to 3 years.
- Reduction in immigration numbers
Scott Morrison, PM, has announced a reduction in immigration numbers. He has indicated that the annual immigration intake for 2019 would be capped at 160,000. States and Territories will be given greater control in deciding individual immigration intake. For example, the quota for ACT’s Subclass 190 Visa has been increased from 800 to 1,400.
This is how Australia plans to attract more migrants to its regional areas
The Australia Govt. has announced two new visa agreements which will allow employers to sponsor foreign workers. These workers will be allowed with lower English and salary levels. This move may help the Govt. redistribute the incoming immigrant population away from the major cities. Australia plans to attract migrants to its regional areas through these new visa agreements. This scheme will be known as the Designated Areas Migration Agreements (DAMAs). It has currently been announced for 2 regions in Australia:
- Northern Territory
- Warrnambool region in Victoria
David Coleman, Immigration Minister, announced that these agreements would provide a route to PR for migrants willing to live in the regional areas.
These agreements will allow employers in Victoria and Northern Territory to bring in workers on the Subclass 482 Visa. Further, down the line, these workers would also be allowed to file for PR.
These agreements would allow employers to sponsor candidates under occupations which are not available under other visa categories. The sponsored employees would also qualify with lesser English proficiency and salary levels.
The Great South Coast Region in Victoria is the first in Australia to sign the agreement. Northern Territory will soon follow suit.
In fact, Northern Territory already had a DAMA in place; however, it did not offer a path to PR.
Nigel Scullion, CLP Senator of NT, said that the DAMA will help businesses in NT who are struggling with a labour shortage.
The agreement will assist businesses in the agriculture and hospitality sectors on the Great South Coast Region in Victoria. Northern Territory will feature 117 occupations which may be filled through the agreement.
Tony Herbert, City Council Mayor of Warrnambool, said that the proposition of an Australian PR will make it an attractive option for immigrants.