Posted on 27 August 2013.
General Skilled Migration: A strategy for successful migration to Australia. By Grant Frankcombe, Manager – Migration Services, Entity Solutions.
With much of the recent media focus surrounding changes to the 457 visa program, I thought it time to turn our attention to the General Skilled Migration program as we commence a new migration program year.
Australia’s migration program consists of 190,000 places for 2013-14, with 128,550 places for skilled migrants. This offers plenty of scope for skilled workers either currently in Australia or overseas to proceed with an application for residence.
General Skilled Migration Program
The General Skilled Migration program enables skilled workers to obtain permanent residency in Australia based on certain attributes required in the Australian workforce. This program is governed by a points test, with points available in categories such as age, English language ability, qualifications and work experience.
Over the years General Skilled Migration has been the mainstay of Australia’s skilled migration program. In recent years we have seen a trend towards employer sponsored visas. However, in the prevailing political climate we may see a renewed focus on migrants looking to immigrate from overseas where possible rather than transition to residence through the 457 visa. Applicants can qualify for permanent residence in Australia through the General Skilled Migration program without firstly obtaining a skilled job offer.
Prospective migrants overseas can prepare their application while continuing to work in their home countries, and move to Australia with the security that they have secured permanent residence beforehand.
A well-planned orientation visit to Australia is recommended if possible as this enables applicants and their family the opportunity to discover the cities or regions in which they are intending or would like to settle. While the internet is a great source of information, there’s nothing like the first-hand experience of a visit. It’s also advantageous to have explored the local job market and lifestyle opportunities before settling.
The first step is to complete the pre-application skills assessment. Each skilled occupation listed under the program has a dedicated skills assessing authority, to which applicants must firstly apply to gain recognition that their skills are suitable and comparable to the Australian standard.
In some cases applicants must demonstrate prior learning in the workforce in lieu of formal qualification or complete theoretical and practical examinations. Applicants needing professional registration will need to obtain provisional or full registration so that they are job ready on arrival. For those applicants whose first language is not English, a test is required where the applicant is required to demonstrate a high standard of English to perform the occupation in Australia.
This process itself can take at least 2-3 months to complete or longer depending on the occupation and requirements of the skills authority.
Demonstrating a high standard of English language ability will definitely benefit an application, and even for native English speakers obtaining the additional points available through English language testing can be an important contributor to a successful application.
The skills assessment and English test are therefore critical first steps in the skilled migration process. Only upon completion of these steps can an Expression of Interest (EOI) under Skill Select be made.
Skill Select is Australia’s current method of selecting applicants through the skilled migration program. It is designed to help the Australian government effectively manage the skilled migrant intake each program year.
All skilled workers applying for General Skilled Migration must apply via Skill Select and firstly submit an EOI. An EOI is not a visa application, but enables prospective applicants to enter the Skill Select database by providing all the information relevant to their prospective visa application, including their points’ entitlement. It is therefore very important that this information is accurate.
Although the pass mark is currently set at 60 points, applications are ranked according to their points’ entitlement, with higher ranked applications being issued with invitations to apply. All occupation classifications have ceilings, which is the maximum of applications that can be accepted in any one occupation in the migration program year. The occupation ceilings are in place to ensure that applicants in a wide-range of occupations are accepted for migration in each program year. Applicants whose occupation ceiling has been reached would then need to wait until the following year to see if an invitation is received. It is clear that the higher the ranking of the EOI the better the prospect of successfully obtaining an invitation.
Applicants who have an interest in settling in a specific area of Australia are able to indicate their preferences in their EOI. State and territory governments are able to select skilled workers that they wish to nominate. Obtaining state or territory nomination can be a significant advantage as nominated applicants will receive an invitation to proceed, provided the ceiling for their occupation has not been reached.
Once an invitation is received applicants have 60 days within which to make their visa application so it is important that all the documentation to support the information and points claimed in the EOI is prepared and ready to submit. Health and character assessments can be provided during processing.
Skilled Independent Subclass 189 and Skilled Nominated Subclass 190
Successful applicants of the Skilled Independent Subclass 189 and Skilled Nominated Subclass 190 obtain a permanent residence visa, which allows multiple entries to Australia for five years from the date it is granted. After the initial five-year period it is necessary to obtain a Resident Return Visa.
A seamless pathway to Australia
Mobility services are available and include a range of options including orientation and home search and this will help to ensure that migrating families relocate with confidence and support.
While I have outlined an approach to securing General Skilled Migration above, the 457 visa is still the immediate option for those who obtain a skilled job offer and it is possible to work in Australia while awaiting the outcome of an application. We are experienced in guiding skilled workers through this process and are happy to explain the options available to skilled workers considering a move to Australia