SkillSelect Update – Pro Rata Occupations Likely to be Full by April 2017

Results for the 15 March SkillSelect invitation round have been published.

Two occupations have reached their occupation ceiling and most other pro rata occupations are likely to be filled by the end of April.

Our article analyses the results and gives an indication of what to expect in the next few rounds.

Occupations Filled in 15 March Round

The following occupation groups reached their occupation ceiling in the 15 March round:
Other Engineering Professionals
Computer Network Professionals
In fact, more invitations were issued than were available in the occupation ceiling in these occupations.
Occupations Likely to be Filled in the Next Few Rounds

Looking at the current invitation rate for pro rata occupations and the number of remaining places, we can forecast when each occupation is likely to be filled:
29 March Round

ICT Business and System Analysts
12 April Round

Auditors, Company Secretaries and Corporate Treasurers
Software and Applications Programmers
26 April Round

Electronics Engineer
Industrial, Mechanical and Production Engineers
Consequences of Occupations Filling Early

Once an occupation is filled, no further invitations can be issued in that occupation for the Skilled Independent Subclass 189 or Skilled Regional Provisional Subclass 489 (family stream) until the program reopens on 1 July 2017.
If no invitations are issued in pro rata occupations between April 2017 and July 2017, this will create a significant backlog of applicants who have lodged EOIs through SkillSelect.

Unless there are increases in the occupation ceilings for the pro rata occupations, we can expect either the minimum score to be higher for pro rata occupations or for the waiting time to increase for an invitation.

Recommendations for Applicants in Pro Rata Occupations

It is getting more competitive for applicants in pro rata occupations looking to apply for the Skilled Independent Subclass 189 visa.
People in this situation could consider:

Increasing Points Score – this improvise your priority when it comes to SkillSelect
Considering skills assessment in other skilled occupations – in some cases, this could be based on qualifications and work experience you already have, or looking at further studies in a different field
State Nomination – occupation ceilings do not apply to state nominated visas, and this also streamlines the invitation process
Alternative visa types – for instance you might eligible for employer sponsorship or sponsorship by a family member
If you would like full advice on your migration options, please book a consultation with one of our advisors. We will go through your situation in detail, and look at all your migration options. This would include advice on requirements for the most likely skilled occupations, ways to increase your points score, state nomination options as well as likely migration pathways.

Data Table
Below is the current status of pro rata occupations in SkillSelect.
Occupation/Subclass Points Required Waiting Time Invitations – 15 Mar Running Total Target Places Remaining Rounds Left
Accountants 70 22 weeks 196 2296 2500 204 1
Auditors, Company Secretaries and Corporate Treasurers 70 13 weeks 110 1265 1413 148 1.3
ICT Business and System Analysts 65 31 weeks 120 1440 1482 42 0.4
Software and Applications Programmers 65 4 weeks 450 5198 5662 464 1
Electronics Engineer 60 14 weeks 58 879 1000 121 2.1
ndustrial, Mechanical and Production Engineers 65 17 weeks 34 1467 1539 72 2.1
Other Engineering Professionals 65 10 weeks 56 1018 1000 0 0
Computer Network Professionals 65 6 weeks 100 1482 1426 0 0


SkillSelect and State Nomination March 2017

The situation remains difficult for pro-rata occupations, but this may change as the number of invitations being issued is well below planning levels.

A few states have restricted their state nomination programs, but state nomination remains a very effective way to improve your eligibility for migration to Australia.

Non-Pro Rata Occupations

For most occupations, 60 point is sufficient to obtain an invitation for either the 189 or 489 subclass, and applicants can expect an invitation next invitation rounds.
The reason for this is that the total number of invitations being issued for both 189 and 489 subclasses is nowhere near sufficient to hit the targets being set by the Department of Immigration.

The current planning level for the 189 subclass is 2,000 invitations per round – giving a total of 48,000 for the program year. Even though we are now 3 quarters through the 2016-17 financial year, only 23,021 invitations have been issued for 189 visas, or 48% of the total planning level.

Similarly for the 489 family sponsored subclass, the planning level is currently 200 per round, or an annual total of 4,800, but only 1,082 invitations have been issued – a lowly 23% of the total. The reason for the shortfall is that applicants in pro rata occupations (see below) are currently very unlikely to receive invitations for 489 family sponsored visas – the 189 program has priority for these occupations.

Pro Rata Occupations

The situation is quite different for occupations which are on the “pro rata” list. These are occupations where more eligible EOIs (Expressions of Interest) are being lodged than there are places available in the occupational ceiling.
The maximum number of invitations for such occupations is limited each round, resulting in a higher minimum points for an invitation or a longer waiting time for invitation.

Accountants and Auditors are the most difficult occupations – they currently require 70 points for an invitation, and waiting times for an invitation are quite long even with this score (3-6 months).

All IT SOL occupations are on the pro rata list as well and require 65 points for an invitation. ICT Business and System Analysts are currently waiting 31 weeks for an invitation with 65 points, but the situation is much better for Computer Network Professionals (6 weeks) and Software and Applications Programmers (4 weeks).

There are a number of engineering specialisations on the pro rata list – most require 65 points for an invitation, but electronics engineers have oscillated between 60 and 65 points in the last few months. Some of these occupations were added fairly late in the program year and are currently very close to being filled – Other Engineering Professionals are 96% filled and Industrial, Mechanical and Production Engineers are 93% filled.

The 1 March round was interesting in that double the usual number of pro-rata invitations were issued – this suggests that the program is low on numbers and that Immigration is seeking to fill more places.

If the higher number of pro-rata occupations continues, it would mean that the occupational ceilings for pro rata occupations may be met well before the end of the program year. As a result, points and/or waiting times may reduce in the short term, but there may be a period of a month or two where invitations are not issued in some occupations.

State Nomination Update

A number of states and territories have tightened up their state nomination requirements for 190 and 489 visas.
For instance, Western Australia has this week announced that it has suspended 190 and 489 nominations pending a review of the WASMOL. This may be a consequence of the recent state election in WA.

ACT recently suspended state nominations for offshore applicants – nomination is now only available for those living in the ACT.

Victoria previously sponsored IT professionals quite actively but has suspended these occupations until the new financial year.

Despite these changes, state nomination remains a very effective way to improve your eligibility for skilled migration. Figures from February show that there are a significant number of state nominations being issued (1,578 for the month in total), with NSW, South Australia and Victoria still very active in sponsoring for General Skilled Migration.

Visa subclass ACT NSW NT Qld SA Tas. Vic. WA Total
Skilled – Nominated (subclass 190) visa 34 420 15 74 141 46 234 17 981
Skilled – Regional (Provisional) (subclass 489) visa 0 32 5 6 93 70 0 0 206
Business Innovation and Investment (subclass 188) visa 0 50 0 40 14 2 199 14 319
Business Talent (Permanent) (subclass 132) visa 0 8 0 19 28 0 4 13 72
Total 34 510 20 139 276 118 437 44 1578

SkillSelect Source Data

The table below summarises the current situation for the Skilled Independent Subclass 189 and Skilled Regional Provisional (Family Sponsored) subclass 489.

Occupation/Subclass Points Required Waiting Time 42781 42795 Running Total Target % Filled
189 – Most Occupations 60 Next round 1253 1832 23021 48000 48% filled
Accountants 70 22 weeks 98 196 2100 2500 84% filled
Auditors, Company Secretaries and Corporate Treasurers 70 12 weeks 55 110 1155 1413 82% filled
ICT Business and System Analysts 65 31 weeks 60 120 1320 1482 89% filled
Software and Applications Programmers 65 4 weeks 225 450 4748 5662 84% filled
Electronics Engineer 60 14 weeks 29 58 821 1000 82% filled
Industrial, Mechanical and Production Engineers 65 16 weeks 17 34 1433 1539 93% filled
Other Engineering Professionals 65 11 weeks 28 56 962 1000 96% filled
Computer Network Professionals 65 6 weeks 50 100 1382 1426 97% filled
Skilled Regional Provisional
Subclass 489
60 Next round 27 32 1082 4800 23% filled


Maintaining Permanent Residence in Australia

Many people do not realise that when they are granted their permanent residence they receive a travel facility which is only valid for 5 years.

To maintain your Australian permanent resident status, you must either meet a residence requirement in Australia or show that you have close ties to Australia.

This article goes through the requirements to extend your permanent resident status.

Travel Facility on a Permanent Visa

Whilst your permanent visa will allow you to remain in Australia indefinitely, the travel facility is only valid for a period of 5 years.
If you wish to continue traveling to and from Australia after the initial 5-year facility, you must either:

Obtain a Resident Return Visa (RRV); or
Apply for Australian Citizenship
Australian citizenship is the preferred option as it will entitle you to always re-enter Australia. As an Australian citizen, you could also obtain an Australian passport.
To qualify for Australian Citizenship, you must meet strict residence requirements. If you don’t meet these, then the Resident Return Visa (RRV) would be the next best option.

5-Year Resident Return Visa (RRV)

This option would require you to show that you have spent at least 2 of the last 5 years physically present in Australia.
Ensuring that you spend at least 2 years in Australia out of each 5 year period is the best way to maintain your permanent residence in Australia. This way, you will obtain a 5-year travel facility and are not subject to any discretionary requirements (eg close ties to Australia or compelling reasons for absence).

12-Month Resident Return Visa (RRV)

If you cannot meet the 2 of the last 5 year residence requirement, the best option would be a 12-month Resident Return Visa.
Close Ties of Benefit to Australia

For the 12-month RRV, you will need to demonstrate substantial business, cultural, employment or personal ties of benefit to Australia. This would typically be:
Close family members in Australia
A job offer or ownership of a business in Australia
Evidence that you have established residence here – for instance leased accommodation, enrolled children in school or moved the bulk of your assets to Australia
Absence from Australia – Compelling Reasons

If you have been absent from Australia for more than 5 years, you will need to show that you have compelling reasons for this absence. The case of Lorenzo Paduano v Minister for Immigration & Multicultural & Indigenous Affairs & Migration Review Tribunal [2005] FCA 211 (10 March 2005) turned on the matter of “compelling reasons for absence from Australia”. The correct question to ask when looking at this issue is: ‘Were the reasons for the absence compelling in that they were forceful?’
In particular:

The applicant is the one who must have been ‘compelled’ by the reasons for absence
Applicants do not need to demonstrate an involuntary element, involving circumstances beyond a person’s control or involving physical or legal necessity
Compelling is to be interpreted broadly – forceful reasons for an absence may involve moral necessity or other circumstances which are convincing by reason of their forcefulness
Examples of Compelling Reasons for Absence

Seven examples of “compelling reasons for absence” are given in the Department of Immigration Procedures Advice Manual. These are:
Severe illness or death of an overseas family member
Work or study commitments
Living overseas with an Australian citizen partner
Complex or lengthy medical treatment preventing travel
Legal proceedings such as sale of property, custody, or contractual obligations
Natural disasters or political uprising preventing travel
Significant personal events for example waiting up to 12 months for a child to complete their education
Whilst the Procedures Advice Manual acknowledges that the applicant does not need to show that the circumstances were beyond their control, more weight would be placed on situations where this is the case.

RRVs for Members of the Family Unit

If you are eligible for an RRV, members of your family unit can also apply for RRVs. This would include your spouse and any dependent children.
The duration of the family unit members’ RRVs would generally be 12 months even if you have a 5-year RRV. If your RRV is expiring sooner than this, then your family unit members’ RRVs will expire on the same date as yours.