There have been news reports recently about occupations possibly being removed from the Skilled Occupations List (SOL) and Consolidated Sponsored Occupations List (CSOL).
If these changes go ahead, this could result in a significant impact for many visa applicants.
Our article goes through what we know so far, likely impacts and what you can do to ensure you maximise your eligibility if the changes do go ahead.
Skilled Occupations ListThe SBS has reported that up to 52 occupations may be removed from the Skilled Occupations List .
What do we Know So Far?Common occupations on the list of occupations for potential removal include:
- Engineers in most specialisations
- Accountants and Auditors
- Surveyors and Cartographers
- Medical Laboratory Scientists
- Various Medical Practitioner Specialisations
- Allied health professionals - such as Radiographers, Occupational Therapists, Podiatrists, Speech Pathologists
- Psychologists and Psychotherapists
- Barristers and Solicitors
- Maritime transport professionals
This article is based on the flagged occupations for removal from the SOL for 2016-17 published by the Department of Education and Training . The SOL is revised every year and a new list is published and comes into effect on the 1st of July every year.
A couple of important things to note about the potential change to the SOL:
- Just because an occupation is flagged does not mean it will definitely be removed
- Most of the occupations were also flagged for 2015-16, and were not removed
- If the SOL is changed, this is likely to be from 1 July 2017
What would be the Impact of the Change?The impact if an occupation is removed from the SOL would be as follows:
- You would no longer be eligible for the Skilled Independent Subclass 189 visa
- You would no longer be eligible for the Graduate Work Stream of the Graduate Temporary Subclass 485 visa
What can I Do to Minimise the Impact?If your occupation is on the flagged list, you would be best to ensure that you apply for skilled migration as soon as possible. This would require a skills assessment - for some occupations this can take several months, so you may wish to start work on this without delay.
If you are an engineer, for example, you may need to undertake a Competency Demonstration Report (CDR) skills assessment through Engineers Australia. This may take some time to prepare and lodge, so you would be best to get started as soon as you can.
Consolidated Sponsored Occupations ListThe ABC and SBS have reported on removal of occupations from the CSOL .
What do we Know So Far?The articles include comments from the Minister for Immigration, Peter Dutton. These comments relate specifically to 457 visa applications, and are as follows:
- The Government is considering cutting the list for 457 visas
- This is as a result of pressure from the opposition Labour party calling for restrictions on the 457 program
- Work is underway to "condense" the list already, and the Government will look at this very soon
The occupations mentioned as the most frequently used for the 457 program are Cooks, Cafe or Restaurant Managers, Marketing Specialists, Chefs and Developer Programmers. At this stage, it is not clear which occupations may be removed.
What would be the Impact of the Change?The above comments suggest the 457 list could be reduced in the near future. Unlike the SOL, changes to the CSOL can come into effect any time during the year.
As the 457 list is the same for the Employer Nomination Scheme Subclass 186 Visa and Occupational Trainee Stream of the Training Subclass 407 visa, if the 457 list were reduced, this may also affect these types of visas.
For 457 visas, the requirement that the occupation be on the approved list is a "time of decision" requirement. In other words, even if you have lodged your application prior to the change, you could be caught out if the occupations list changes before a decision is made on your application.
For ENS visas, the effect will depend on which stream you apply for. If you have worked for your sponsor on a 457 visa for 2 years and are applying for the Temporary Residence Transition Stream, the impact should be minimal.
If you apply for the Direct Entry Stream, this would require a skills assessment in a CSOL occupation and 3 years of work experience in your occupation. If your occupation is removed before your nomination is approved, you could have difficulty meeting the requirements for the Direct Entry Stream.
What can I Do to Minimise the Impact?If you are considering applying for a 457 visa, you should apply as soon as possible to avoid being affected by the changes.
If you are considering the Direct Entry Stream of the ENS visa, you should also look at applying soon to avoid disappointment.
If you are on a 457 visa already and looking at the Temporary Residence Transition Stream, you should not be affected by any changes to the CSOL.
ConclusionAt this stage, it is not yet clear when changes to the SOL or CSOL will come into effect or which occupations will be removed.
There is no need for panic, but if you are currently eligible for an ENS or Skilled Independent visa, you should look at proceeding as soon as possible to minimise your chances of being affected by any future change.
When applying for an Australian visa, it is generally possible to include members of your family unit. When your application is granted, all included family members would receive visas.
From 19 November, changes will be made to which relatives can be included in your visa application.
Spouse and Children OnlyCurrently, it is possible to include dependent relatives in visa applications, even if they are not spouses and children. For instance, it is common for 457 applicants to include a dependent parent in their applications.
From 19 November, this will no longer possible with only spouses (including defacto spouses) and children being considered members of the family unit.
Maximum Age for ChildrenChildren under 18 are considered members of the family unit by default.
Children over 18 can currently be included in visa applications, providing they are financially dependent on their parent. Generally, it is sufficient to provide evidence that they are still studying and have not started working full time.
From 19 November, children can only be included if they are under 23 years old and this is likely to affect many potential applicants with adult children.
To include a child over 23, you would need to show that the child is incapacitated for work. This would generally result in issues in meeting the health criteria for the visa.
Including Adult Children in Subsequent Visa ApplicationsIt is relatively common for people to apply for a temporary visa, then after a few years in Australia apply for further stay in Australia. One issue that can arise is showing that children and other family members are still dependent when applying for the subsequent visa.
From 19 November, family members will be taken to be members of the family unit when applying for subsequent visas, even if they are no longer dependent. This only applies in the following scenarios:
- Holders of Temporary Work (Skilled) Subclass 457 visas applying for Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) Subclass 186 or Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) Subclass 187 visas
- Holders of Temporary Work (Skilled) Subclass 457 visas applying for a further 457 visa
- Holders of Skilled Regional Provisional (Subclass 489) applying for Skilled Regional Permanent Subclass 887 visas
- Holders of Provisional Business Skills Subclass 188 visas applying for Permanent Business Skills Subclass 888 visas
- Holders of Temporary Contributory Parent (Subclass 173 and 884) visas applying for Permanent Contributory Parent (Subclass 143 and 864) visas.
ConclusionIf you wish to include dependent family members, and in particular adult children 23 years or over, you may wish to apply prior to 19 November to avoid the changes.
The changes will be beneficial to certain temporary and provisional visa holders who wish to include family members in subsequent visa applications.
ReferencesMigration Legislation Amendment (2016 Measures No. 4) Regulation 2016
Partner migration is one of the main family sponsored application pathways. The concept is relatively simple - if you are in a relationship with an Australian permanent resident or citizen, they can sponsor you and you can then qualify for permanent residence.
However, partner visa requirements are far from simple in practice. This article goes through some of the finer points and highlights some tips for people planning on applying for a partner visa.
1. Lodging a Partner Visa Before Getting MarriedTo qualify for a partner visa, you would need to show that you are in a spouse relationship. Often, this will mean that you are married, but this is not always the case.
The most common exception to this is where you are living together in a defacto relationship (see below for more information.
On top of this, there are a number of ways you can apply even if you are not yet married.
One way is to apply for a Prospective Spouse subclass 300 visa. This is for people who have registered with a marriage celebrant to get married in Australia. It results in a 9-month visa which has full work and travel rights. During the validity of the visa, you are expected to get married and apply for a partner visa.
If you are applying for a partner visa offshore , you do not necessarily need to be married at the date of application. Providing the marriage takes place during processing, your can still meet the requirements. It is also possible to convert a Prospective Spouse visa application to an offshore partner visa application during processing if you get married whilst awaiting a decision.
Note that for onshore partner applications, the above exemptions do not apply - if you do not prove you are in a partner relationship at the date you apply, your application will almost certainly be refused.
2. Establishing a Defacto RelationshipOne of the ways of applying for a partner visa is to show that you are in a "defacto relationship". This would normally mean showing that you have lived together in an exclusive relationship for the last 12 months. However, living together is only one of the factors considered by the Department of Immigration:
- Cohabitation: This would require you to show that you are living together, or at least not apart on a permanent basis. You would generally provide correspondence addressed to either or both of you at the same address, evidence of a joint lease or property ownership.
- Joint Financials: You would need to show some level of pooling of your financial resources. This would normally take the form of a joint bank account, joint ownership of assets or making each other a beneficiary of superannuation or wills
- Social Interdependence: You would need to be recognised as a couple socially and this could be evidenced by photos of you and your partner with friends and relatives for instance
3. Exceptions to the 12 Month Rule for Defacto RelationshipsYou would normally need to show that you have lived together for 12 months to show that you are in a defacto relationship for the purposes of a partner visa application. However, there are a number of exceptions.
The first exception is if you register your relationship with an Australian state or territory government. Requirements vary by location and some require one or both of you to be resident in the state or territory.
Other exceptions are where you have a child of the relationship, or it is unlawful in your country to live together in a defacto relationship.
4. Avoiding the 2-year Waiting Period for Permanent ResidencePartner visas lead to permanent residence in two stages for most applicants. When applying for a partner visa, you technically lodge a combined application for a temporary partner and a permanent partner visa.
In most cases, the temporary partner visa is granted first. This gives you full work and travel rights in Australia.
Most people only become eligible for the permanent partner visa once 2 years has elapsed from the date the application was lodged. At this stage, you would need to provide evidence that you are still in a relationship with your partner, and provide updated police checks.
In some cases, you can be granted the permanent partner visa directly, without needing to go via the temporary partner stage. The main ones are:
- You have been in a relationship for at least the last 3 years; and
- You have been in a relationship for the last 2 years, and have a child of the relationship
5. Children of Previous RelationshipsIf you have children from previous relationships this can complicate the application process.
If the child is under 18, they would generally be considered a dependent. This would give you the option of including them in your application for a partner visa. In this case, you would need to obtain the consent of the other parent in the way prescribed by the Department of Immigration.
Even if you do not intend to include a child under 18 in your partner application, they may still need to do health and police checks. This can be difficult to arrange if you do not have custody of the child.
Whilst partner visas may seem to be simple conceptually, there are many fine details associated with the application process. Knowing these finer points can greatly smooth the application process and may also mean the difference between success and failure.
A discussion paper has been released by the Australian Government proposing the introduction of a new temporary parent visa.
The proposal is in response to a Productivity Commission report on Migrant Intake into Australia which indicated that the lifetime cost for permanent parent visa holders was over $300,000 in terms of health and community services. This strongly suggests that the application fees for permanent parent visas will be increased in the near future.
The proposed visa gives an extended stay for parents of Australian permanent residents and citizens as an alternative to the current permanent parent options.
This article gives some details of the proposed visa - please note that the information below may be subject to change once the consultation process has been completed.
SponsorshipParents would need to be sponsored by an Australian child. This would need to be done prior to making the visa application, and the sponsor would need to show that they are of good character.
The sponsor would need to show that they have lived in and "contributed" to Australia for some time. It is not clear at this stage what is meant by "contributed" but it would appear that the sponsor will need to show evidence of their taxable income and show that they are able to financially support their parents. The discussion paper indicates that the longer the sponsor contributes to Australia, the higher priority they will receive when sponsoring their parents.
Visa DurationThe visa will be valid for up to 5 years, but could be granted for a shorter period - say 1 or 3 years. The period of validity appears to be discretionary - and may depend on:
- Health and age of applicant
- Immigration history
- Financial capacity of the applicant or sponsor - for example the validity period may be longer if the parent is financially independent
- Needs of the applicant or sponsor - for example if the parent is being sponsored to help with caring for children, this need may reduce as children get older
Health RequirementApplicants will need to undertake medicals and show that they meet the health criteria. We envisage that this would be similar to the current arrangements for health checks for temporary visas. Under this system, the required health checks depend on the intended duration of stay and the risk level of the country of passport and residence.
Full private health insurance will be required and this would need to be taken out through an Australian health insurance company.
Assurance of Support BondA bond would be required, and this would need to be sufficient to cover a parent's potentially health costs for the period of stay. Any costs to the Australian government for health care or other services would be paid for out of the bond.
The bond could be in one of the following forms:
- A contingent loan: this would be similar to the Higher Education Loan Program and would see the sponsor pay back any costs through the tax system.
- Investment in state or territory bonds: on maturity, the bond would be repaid, less any incurred costs
- Enforceable legally binding agreement
Visa Application FeeWhilst there is no indication of the likely fee, the paper suggests that this could be quite high as the charge would need to address the impact on infrastructure and services.
English RequirementThe discussion paper suggests that the visa may require applicants to show that they have at least functional English, or that they are improving their English language ability over time.
Renewing the VisaThe paper indicates that the applicant will need to be outside Australia when lodging a renewal of the visa. It is not clear at this stage whether the applicant need to be outside Australia when making the initial application.
Effect on Parent Visa ApplicationsThe discussion paper indicates that applying for the new visa will not have any effect on the ability to apply for a permanent parent visa. This also implies that permanent parent visas will still be available after the new visa is introduced. However, the concerns expressed in the Productivity Commission report suggests that the application fees for permanent parent visas may be increased to address the cost to the community.
ConclusionThe proposed visa would mean that Australian citizens and permanent residents could sponsor parents to stay with them for extended periods. Arrangements would be made to minimise the cost to the community of their stay.
Compared to a visitor visa, the new visa would allow a longer period of continuous stay (up to 5 years).
Given the comments in the Productivity Commission report, we would expect that the application fees for permanent parent visas may be increased significantly in the near future. Anyone seeking to sponsor parents may wish to look at proceeding as soon as possible to avoid the increase.
- Discussion Paper - Introducing a temporary visa for parents
- Productivity Commission Report - Migrant Intake into Australia
- Liberal Party Press Release - Enhanced visitor visas for sponsored parents
The Australian Government has announced changes to the Working Holiday Maker program which will come into effect from 1 January 2017. The changes will be beneficial to people applying for working holiday visas and will also benefit those already in Australia on working holiday visas.
Increase to Age LimitCurrently you must be under 31 to apply for a Working holiday or Work and Holiday visa. From 1 January you can be up to 35 years old. This will open program to people have previously missed their chance to apply for a Working Holiday in Australia.
Change to Work RightsWorking holiday visa holders cannot work more than six months with the same employer.
From 1 January, there will be more flexible arrangements, allowing an employer with premises in different regions to retain employees for up to 12 months, providing the second six months is in a different location.
Reduction in Application FeesThe current application fees are $440. The new application fees will be $390, saving you $50.
Tax ChangesThe tax rate on working holiday makers with income less than $37,000 will be 19%. This is reduced from the current 32.5%. The usual marginal tax rate will apply for income over $37,000.
The employer will need to register with ATO as an employer of working holiday makers for the lower rate to be applicable. The register of employers will be public and is intended to tighten the integrity of the tax system.
On the other hand the tax on working holiday makers' superannuation when they leave Australia will be increased to 95% from 1 July 2017. This effectively means working holiday makers will forfeit their superannuation on departing Australia.
ConclusionMost of this is good news for working holiday makers.
In order to attract more working holiday makers there will be $10 million spent on an international advertising campaign.
Many working holiday makers will look at applying for permanent or long stay visas to extend their stay in Australia. Working holiday makers enjoy a number of advantages in applying for further visas. For instance the best age to apply for skilled migration is 25 to 32 and points are available for skilled work experience in Australia.
Many working holiday visa holders are sponsored by employer or by Australian partners.
ReferencesTreasurer-Media Release on Changes to Working Holiday Visas
Treasurer-Interview on Changes to Working Holiday Visas
The Australian Government has introduced an "Entrepreneur Visa" to attract talented, innovative people to establish entrepreneurial ventures in Australia.
The new Entrepreneur visa will be available from 10 September 2016 and will be a part of the Business Innovation and Investment Programme subclass 188 visa.
Entrepreneurs will require $200,000 in funding from a nominated third party to develop and commercialise innovative ideas in Australia.
Applicants must first be nominated by an Australian State or Territory Government and be invited through the SkillSelect Expression of Interest System for the visa
The Entrepreneur Visa will be 4 years in duration. Providing the visa holder successfully establishes an entrepreneurial venture in Australia there will be permanent residency pathway available onto a subclass 888 visa.
Main CriteriaThe main requirements will be as follows:
- Under 55 years old, unless "exceptional economic benefit" is demonstrated
- Competent English Language Ability (ie 6 in each band of IELTS or equivalent)
- Agreement in place for at least $200,000 to grow a venture in Australia
- Hold at least 30% interest in that venture
- Be sponsored by a state or territory government
Acceptable Business ActivitiesThe proposed venture would need to be either:
- Commercialisation of a product or service in Australia; or
- Development of an enterprise or business in Australia
Certain activities which are not considered sufficiently innovative will be excluded. This will be defined by legislative instrument and might include:
- Purchase of an existing business or franchise
- Real estate activities
- Labour hire activities
Eligible fundingTo apply for the Entrepreneur Visa, you will need to have an agreement for at least $200,000 in funding from one or more of the following sources:
- Commonwealth agencies
- State and territory governments
- Publicly funded research organisations
- Investors registered as Venture Capital Limited Partnerships or Early Stage Venture Capital Limited Partnerships
ConclusionThe new Entrepreneur Visa will be a great pathway for applicants seeking to start innovative ventures in Australia. Unlike the other Subclass 188 streams, there is no requirement to show a minimum amount of personal net assets or significant business background.
If you would like us to check your likely eligibility for business migration, please book a consultation through our website. We will then provide you with a comprehensive preliminary assessment of your likely eligibility for business migration, and can discuss with you the best way to proceed with your application.