08 February 2010

Major Australian visa changes announced by immigration minister

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Today, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, announced major Australian visa changes to the General Skilled Migration program.

Australian visa changes

Major Australian visa changes were announced today by the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans.

The changes could impact thousands of Australian visa applicants, as well as dramatically update the General Skilled Migration program for future migrants. Senator Evans' announcement saw the following changes introduced or scheduled:

Removal of the MODL

"On 8 February 2010, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, announced the outcomes of a review of the Migration Occupations in Demand List (MODL).

The review found that the existing MODL needed to be revoked and replaced by a more targeted skilled occupations list to better meet the demands of Australia’s labour market. The revocation of the current MODL will not affect those who at the date of announcement:

  • Hold a Skilled—Graduate (subclass 485) visa, or have a pending subclass 485 visa application and are yet to apply for a permanent or provisional General Skilled Migration (GSM) visa; OR
  • Have a pending GSM visa application."

As this change has taken place immediately, the Migration Occupations in Demand List (MODL) has now been revoked and will no longer play a part in the Australian visa application process.

Therefore, anyone who has not already lodged their skilled Australian visa application will not receive additional points on the basis of their nominated occupation being on the MODL.

New Skilled Occupation List from mid-2010

"On 8 February 2010, the minister also announced the replacement of the current Skilled Occupation List (SOL) in the second half of 2010, with a new list of targeted occupations determined by the independent body, ‘Skills Australia’. As the new SOL will be a comprehensive, targeted list, the current Critical Skills List will be revoked.

The new SOL will come into effect from mid-2010 and will apply to all applicants lodging visa applications made on or after this date, except to GSM applicants who at the date of announcement ( 8 February 2010):

  • Hold a Skilled—Graduate (subclass 485) visa, or had a pending subclass 485 visa application and had not yet lodged an application for a provisional or permanent GSM visa and who make an application by 31 December 2012; OR
  • Have a pending GSM visa application."

Full details regarding the new Skilled Occupation List (SOL) are yet to be given, but the intention for it seems to be to replace both the MODL and Critical Skills List (CSL), and act as one list to define both:

In this sense, it appears similar to the previously announced (but never introduced) Future Skills List. The new SOL will be introduced mid-2010, at which point the current CSL will be revoked.

GSM applications lodged before 1 September 2007

"Under section 39 of the Migration Act 1958, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship has the power to set a maximum number of visas of a class that may be granted in a particular financial year.

On 8 February 2010, the minister announced he would set a maximum number of offshore GSM visa applications made before 1 September 2007 that could be granted. Once this number is reached, any applications awaiting a decision will not be considered and the application returned to the applicant or their authorised recipient. These applications will be taken not to have been made.

Refunds of the visa application charge (VAC) will be made to the payer of these charges for affected visa applicants."

Through the introduction of this legislation, it is anticipated that approx. 20,000 backlogged visa applicants who lodged their application before 1 September 2007 will have their application returned and removed from the process, and their application fee refunded.

These were the major Australian visa changes that came about as the February 8 announcement, but further updates and initiatives were also mentioned or hinted at, including:

All these changes announced today are set to define the Australian immigration landscape for the foreseeable future, so further comment will be provided by senior members of our Australian casework department on the Australian Visa Bureau blog soon.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people lodge their Australian Visa applications with the Australian Embassy.  

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