Australian immigration changes for 1 July, 2010: What we know

1 July, 2010 saw a number of Australian
immigration changes made, with more on
the horizon.

We have been waiting for 1 July, 2010 to bring us changes to the General Skilled Migration (GSM) Australian visa process for some time. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) have previously implied that the changes we have been waiting for, primarily concerning the new form of state sponsorship called State Migration Plans, would be revealed today.

As reported earlier, the State Migration Plans have yet to be released. Despite this, some changes have taken place today that I think are worth bringing to the attention of the many visa applicants in need of information. While I'll almost certainly write in more detail on this soon, for now, I’d just like to summarise some of the major changes that have taken place:

State Migration Plans delayed

As previously stated, details of the State Migration Plans are not yet available, and have been delayed until at least August. Current details of the expected release dates for each State and Territory can be found on our State Migration Plans page. 

Suspension on skilled visa applications lifted

The suspension that has precluded applicants from applying for a skilled visa has been lifted. However, even though it is now possible to lodge an application for an offshore skilled visa once more, I wouldn't recommend doing so at this time, for reasons that I'll explain further down.

Change of occupation classification from ASCO to ANZSCO

From today, all occupations are classified under a new coding scheme called 'ANZSCO'. DIAC have already released information about the transition from ASCO to ANZSCO.

The majority of applicants will not need to obtain a new skills assessment (if one is already held), and the effect on their application will be minimal. However, I would advise researching what your new occupation code is and whether this will affect your application in any way.

Introduction of a new Skilled Occupation List (SOL)

As previously advised, DIAC have today implemented a new Skilled Occupation List which has been previously published. All applicants need to have an occupation which is on the new SOL, unless they are sponsored by a state under a State Migration Plan.

Change in requirements at lodgement for State Sponsored visa applicants

All state sponsored clients will now be required to demonstrate their sponsorship at the time of lodgement. In other words, if state sponsorship is required then it is no longer possible to apply for a visa without first attaining that sponsorship.

As a result of the current priority processing directive, it is favourable for applicants to lodge as a subclass 176 state sponsored visa, even if they qualify for other visa subclasses, as the timeframe for obtaining a visa will be shortened considerably. It is for this reason that we advise most applicants to hold off on applying for a visa until after they have seen whether they qualify for a State Migration Plan.

Increase in fees for visa applications

The cost of an application for a skilled visa has today increased to AU$2,575

If you are interested in reading further information about these changes, I'll be posting a series of blogs on the key points over the next few days.

- Lauren Mennie is Casework Department Manager for the Australian Visa Bureau.