Friday, 28 June 2013

Migrating to Oz: It gets harder every 1 July.

For prospective migrants to the land Down Under, the bar has just been raised yet again. Australian Immigration has recently released some information detailing significant changes for prospective visa applicants to commence from 1 July 2013.

It just got harder to migrate Down Under.
So what exactly are the changes and how will it affect subclass 189 applicants? Let's start with the good news first!

1. The occupation ceilings on the previous SOL has been reset
You will find the new SOL wef 1 July 2013 available here. Occupations which had previously reached its occupation ceiling, such as Systems Analyst, remain available in the new SOL. This means that the occupation ceilings have been reset and these occupations (Engineers, Programmers etc) are still in demand in Australia till June 2014. This is good news for the professionals who have submitted complete EOIs and are still waiting for an invite. My guess is your invite will come in July 2013 after the technical issues on Skillselect have been sorted out. Congratulations! 

2. Increase in maximum number of invites for July 2013
The maximum number of invites for 189 in June 2013 was 1850 while the new maximum number for July 2013 is 2300. Again, this is good news for those with completed EOIs in the system! For some who may not be aware, Skillselect issues invites based on points, then first come-first-served (like I mentioned in an earlier post on EOI submission).
Having said this, there is no concrete information for now on the exact maximum number of 189 invites they will issue in the new year. Typically the system assigns a higher maximum in July, then this number gradually decreases (as observed for the past year). So keep your fingers crossed, people.

Alright, sounds good so far. Now, for the bad news.

3. Increase in Visa fees!
It has been announced that the fees for almost all visa applications will be increased by at least 3 - 5% to account for the annual inflation. In addition to this fixed increase, there will also be increases made as follows:
  • Application fees for Subclass 457 will be doubled to A$900, with additional surcharges imposed for longer stay.
  • Additional Applicant Surcharge - currently, an entire family unit (including those under Subclass 189, 190 etc) is covered under a single application charge. After 1 July 2013, every family member included in the primary visa application will be subject to additional charges.
  • Additional charges will be imposed to applicants who lodge their visas in paper format, especially if eLodgement is available for that visa subclass.
The most significant impact for subclass 189 applicants is the second point, especially for applicants who had intended to include your spouse and dependents/other family members in your application. Oz Immigration has not released the exact costs yet, so stay tuned.
For all applicants with existing invites (which have not expired), do not hesitate! If you lodge your application and pay the fee before 9pm (AEST) TODAY, you will paying significantly less for your entire family.

4. Pharmacists and Aircraft Maintenance Engineers no longer on SOL
5 occupations have been removed for the coming year's SOL. REALLY bad news for Pharmacists and Aircraft Engineers. Better luck in July 2014?

Pharmacists are no longer in demand in Australia.

5. More stringent criteria for Subclass 457 applicants
As my posts are catered more to Subclass 189 applicants, I shall not delve into the details for this. Suffice to say Australia is clamping down on this visa to ensure jobs will be given to Australians first, as well as ensure only very skilled, genuine applicants make the cut for this temporary work visa.

6. Expect some changes to eligibility criteria and increase in costs and processing times for Skills Assessment in 2013/2014
Inflation will also affect costs for Skills Assessment. An acquaintance of mine who intends to migrate in a couple of years has been monitoring the steady increase in costs for application of a skills assessment, most notably from Engineers Australia. Every July when Immigration releases the new visa charges, the various assessing authorities will also review their fees accordingly and determine if an increase is necessary.
As for processing times, I did notice for AITSL (as an example) that the processing time of 8 weeks in 2011 has increased to 10 weeks in 2012 and to 14 weeks in 2013. As mentioned in Chapter 3, mine took 11 weeks and two days, and an additional two weeks for delivery via snail mail. Using the same example, the English Language criteria for teachers have also been made more stringent as of 1 January 2013. I suspect this has contributed to the small number of 189 invites for teachers for the year July 2012 to June 2013. You can have a look at the detailed figures and reports here.

7. Expect changes to state nominated occupations lists
Prospective migrants (especially those who do not offer occupations in the main SOL) should visit the individual state websites after 1 July to check if their occupation is in the state nomination list. Every individual state will also determine the eligibility criteria for their nominated occupations (whether on the main SOL or not) - and more often than not, the state requirements are usually more stringent than the requirement for the basic 189 visa. The only saving grace is that applicants receive 5 more points for applying under 190, which could be critical for someone short of points.

Take for example Secondary School Teacher - Victoria state requires teachers interested in nomination as a Sec School Teacher to offer either Math, Physics, Technology or IT, General Science, Languages or Special Education. They also require teachers to have a minimum of 2 years relevant teaching experience. Both of these are in fact not compulsory requirements for a 189 visa applicant.
You can use the links provided below to find out more for each state:

If you have missed the boat this time round but still intend to migrate to Oz, it is time to speed up your decision process. Time waits for no man...

Click here for our overview on the migration process!

- A

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