From 1 July 2012 the Australian government has moved to reinforce its preferred Employer Sponsored (ENS/RSMS) pathway to permanent residence. These changes to will coincide with the introduction of the new SkillSelect, Expressions of Interest system for General Skilled Migration (GSM). They bring the ENS/RSMS & GSM visa application criteria broadly into line with each other and seek to simplify the ENS/RSMS application system.
My first comment is that these are sensible reforms as we should have broadly similar requirements for skilled workers seeking permanent entry to Australia in these two programs. Second, while this reform has at its core a simplification, this does not mean the changes make it easier for ENS/RSMS applicants. For some the way forward is essentially the same however for others the bar has now been set higher.
The changes and my comments:
- Two new visas Classes/Subclasses are created EN 186 & RN 187. They replace the current 6 visas (119, 120, 121, 855, 856, and 857). Simpler is generally better so this seems like a good idea
- There will no longer be a distinction between onshore and offshore applications. Simpler again.
- The upper age limit has been raised to less than 50 years. Sensible and in line with the new GSM Skill Select system.
- One new consolidated occupations list replaces the old 457 occupations list and the ENSOL and the State Territory Sponsored Occupations List. This is a good idea – having separate lists was silly and confusing.
- ENS/RSMS & GSM criteria broadly integrated. Consistent is always good.
- Introduction of a “streamlined and simplified pathway” to PR for eligible 457 visa holders. Not quite as good a deal as it is being sold as however it’s pointless to be too critical of this change compared to the current 2 years and at least the last year with the nominating employer.
- Directing all Permanent Employer Sponsored applications into one of three streams
(a) Temporary Residence Transition (for those currently on 457 visas and sponsored by their employer)
(b) Direct Entry (for applicants not applying from a 457 visa)
(c) Agreements Stream (for applicants sponsored through a Labour or Regional Migration Agreement)
Important things to know and note:
- For Direct Entry applicants the English language requirement is now Competent English - 6.0 IELTS in each band (it was 5.0). The bar is now set higher but this change has been anticipated for a long time and it’s fair enough and consistent.
- Nominating Businesses must now pay applicants the Market Salary (this replaces the Minimum Salary Level / MSL currently $49330). This just makes sense.
- Nominating Business must now meet the DEEWR Training Benchmark levels (this is a much higher and hence more difficult requirement). These Benchmarks are odd and artificial and rule out significant areas of staff training that actually happen in the real world. So applying them to all ‘work’ visas is consistent (good) but applying a flawed notion to more visas is not a wonderful idea.
- 457 applicants must now have worked for the nominating employer for two years (previously they had to have been on a 457 visa for 2 years and the last year prior to application with the nominating employer- this is harder!)
- Vocational English (IELTS 5.0) remains the level for Temporary Residence Stream applicants.
- RSMS continues to be slightly easier than ENS
- Exceptional circumstances options that currently exist have been replaced by a series of more tightly focused ‘exemptions’.
This summary does not cover all the changes in detail and it certainly does not go into any detail about RSMS. It’s important to note that in our office RSMS applications are very rare so it’s not my area of focus. I have not covered the Agreements Scheme at all for applicnats on Labour Agreements and Regional Migration Agreements.
There is a world of detail available on all of this from the DIAC website and the link to this is below.