Further SkillSelect details announced

The Australian government's new
SkillSelect system will form a large
part of changes to visa processing.

The Australian government has announced more details about its new Australia visa application process: SkillSelect. Details about the process, which is intended to go live on 1, July of this year, have been introduced slowly as the government draws up new legislation.

We wrote about the last announcement in January when an outline of the scheme was released.

The Australian government today released further details of the scheme:

Changes affecting the 175 visa

The newly announced 189 subclass will effectively replace the existing 175 visa for independent skilled migration.

The 189 visa will apply to people wanting to move to Australia who are under the age of 50, possess competent English language skills and have skills or qualifications listed on the Skilled Occupation List (SOL).

Holders of a 189 visa will be permitted to live, work and study in Australia on a permanent basis, receive state subsidised benefits, apply for citizenship and sponsor people for permanent residency.

Changes affecting the 176 visa

The 176 visa subclass for Sponsored Skilled Migration will be replaced by the new 190 subclass of visa which will include all the same benefits and allowances as the 189 visa to the holder.

The 190 subclass will also require that the applicant (or applicant's partner) has an eligible relative already living in Australia who is willing to sponsor the applicant. Alternatively, an application can have a nomination from any State or Territory government agency to be eligible.

Changes affecting the 475 visa

The Regional Sponsored 475 subclass of temporary visa will be replaced by the 489 subclass.

The 475 visa originally allowed holders to live and work in Australia for three years; this period will be extended to four years under the 489 visa.

The 489 visa will be for applicants who do not qualify for the 189 visa yet still have skills listed on the SOL list. To apply for a 489 visa, applicants will need to be nominated by a state or territory or an eligible relative already living in Australia.

Changes affecting all three subclasses

Under all three original subclasses, applicants could be in Australia when their visa applications were lodged, but once granted they had to leave Australia and re-enter. This often meant unnecessary expense for many applicants who had to pay for an extra flight in order to leave the country.

However, under the new subclasses, visas can now be granted onshore.

If you are in Australia and hold an eligible substantive visa when you have lodged your application and your existing visa is about to expire, you will be allowed to apply for a Bridging visa which will allow you to avoid having to leave the country while you await your new visa.

Finally, while all the visa requirements have an age restriction, under the new SkillSelect scheme an applicant’s age will be determined from the date of invitation rather than lodgement, this will allow a greater deal of flexibility for applicants nearing the age threshold.

- Dominic Ladden-Powell is the Online Editor for the Australian Visa Bureau