occupation ceilings for the 2017-18 Program Year

The Department of Immigration has released the occupation ceilings for the 2017-18 Program Year.
There have been increases in the occupation ceiling for the following pro rata occupations – it is quite possible that the required points score will reduce compared to the 2016-17 program year:
Accountants: Increased by 2285 places to 4785
Industrial, Mechanical and Production Engineers: Increased by 639 places to 2178
Software and Applications Programmers: Increased by 540 places to 6202
ICT Business and Systems Analysts: Increased by 92 places to 1574
The following occupations had a reduced occupation ceiling – as a result the required points or waiting times may increase:
Computer Network Professionals: Decreased by 108 places to 1318
Auditors, Company Secretaries and Corporate Treasurers: Decreased by 86 places to 1327

Accountant at 75 points and Mech at 70 points

Posted in GSM

Skilled Nominated (subclass 190) visa – Closure of ACT Migration Program to overseas applicants

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT
Skilled Nominated (subclass 190) visa – Closure of ACT Migration Program to overseas applicants
Effective immediately (23 August 2017 at 9.30 am AEST) the ACT Migration Program is now closed to overseas applicants.
• If your client is living overseas you will not be able to commence an application for ACT nomination of a Skilled Nominated (subclass 190) visa until the Program reopens in 2018.
• If you have started an application for ACT nomination prior to closure of the program, and the status is ‘in progress’, the application must be submitted, and the service fee paid before 11.59 pm (AEST) Thursday 24 August 2017.
o You must submit a complete application e.g. all supporting documents attached, as additional documentation will not be accepted after lodgement.
o The application must meet ACT nomination criteria as you will not be contacted to provide additional supporting information.
o If the application is not submitted, and the $300 service fee paid by Thursday 24 August 2014 (AEST), the application will automatically lapse.

CLOSE TIES TO CANBERRA
This action does not affect overseas applicants with close ties in Canberra. If your client has close ties (either family or genuine job offer) in Canberra; OR they have completed a PhD at an ACT university, they are still eligible to apply for ACT nomination
CANBERRA RESIDENTS
This action does not affect Canberra based applicants. If your client is living in Canberra and working in a skilled occupation, the program is still open. You are still able to lodge an application for ACT nomination of the Skilled Nominated (subclass 190) visa if your Canberra based client meets the current nomination criteria.

Changes to Job Ready Program – TRA

Changes to Job Ready Program – TRA

Trades Recognition Australia has made changes to the Job Ready Program (JRP).
Electronic lodgement of JRP application documents
TRA will now accept application documents for the JRP by email.
The JRP Participant Guidelines have been updated and provide clear instructions on how to send documents to TRA for each step of the JRP. If documents are received in a format other than those outlined in the Guidelines, they will be returned unprocessed.
Verification of Work Statements for a Provisional Skills Assessment (PSA)
To apply for a PSA, applicants must provide work statement/s to support a minimum of 360 hours of employment and/or a vocational placement relevant to their qualification and nominated occupation, completed in an Australian workplace.
TRA verifies employment and vocational placements by contacting the person who signed the work statement/s. TRA must be able to link the signatory’s landline or mobile telephone number/s to the business or RTO before contact is made. Once a link has been established, TRA will only attempt contact three times. If a link to the business or RTO cannot be established, the signatory will not be contacted. If the signatory cannot be contacted or does not respond to call back requests from TRA, the work will not be able to be verified and the application will be unsuccessful.

Posted in TRA

Australian Citizenship Bill Update September 2017

A Senate Committee has produced a report on the Australian Citizenship Bill which was introduced in June 2017. The Committee found issues with the proposed legislation and recommended that changes be made before it is passed.

A motion has been passed by the Senate that if the Bill has not passed by 18 October 2017, it will be struck off the list of legislation being considered and will need to be re-introduced to Parliament for it to pass.

This article gives a summary of the Senate Committee Report and details of the motion to discharge the Bill.

Motion to Discharge Citizenship Bill from Senate Notice Paper

On 13 September, the Australian Senate has passed a motion to have the Citizenship Bill discharged from the Notice Paper of legislation under consideration.
As a result, if the Bill is not passed by 18 October 2017, it will no longer be under consideration for passage by the Senate and would need to be re-introduced into Parliament.

As there are only 4 sitting days of the Senate before this date, it is looking likely that the Bill will be discharged.

Community Feedback on the Bill

The Senate Inquiry received 13,500 submissions on the Citizenship Bill. The overwhelming majority raised serious concerns, and only 0.01% of the submissions were in favour (one of which was from the Australian Government).
English Language Requirement

The Bill requires most applicants for citizenship to show “Competent English”, but did not specify the level required and this can be set by legislative instrument. This is defined elsewhere in the Migration Regulations as 6 in each band of IELTS or equivalent score in one of the other English tests, but the Bill did not link to this definition. Currently, no formal English test is required and this is assessed by the applicant completing the Citizenship test, which is estimated to require English at approximately the IELTS 4 level.
The majority report recommended that the requirements the proposed “Competent English” requirement be “clarified”. It recommended against “adopting a standard that may current citizens could not reach” – this would imply that a standard lower than Competent should be applied.

Dissenting reports expressed concern that the proposed level of English was inappropriate, and in particular:

It would lead to large segments of the Australian community unable to attain citizenship
Refugees and migrant spouses would be disproportionally affected
The proposed level of English is very high – the Australian Council of TESOL Associations estimates that approximately 7 million Australians were below IELTS 6 level in 2012-13.
Retrospective Application of Legislation

When the proposed changes to citizenship requirements were announced on 20 April 2017, the intention was that these would apply to any applications lodged on or after this date. This is of concern to many permanent residents because there was no advanced notice of the change.
The Committee received many letters from permanent residents who were already eligible for Australian citizenship prior to the announcement of the changes.

47,328 people had lodged applications for citizenship between 20 April and 16 July 2017. The Department of Immigration estimates that 25,788 of these people would not meet the new residence requirement. These applications are not being processed pending gaining certainty around passage of the Bill, and so it is very important for these people to know whether the changes will be retrospective.

The main report recommended that the Government consider introducing transitional provisions so that people who held permanent residence prior to 20 April 2017 would not be affected by the changes.

Dissenting reports recommended that the legislation not be retrospective in effect in any way.

Residence Requirement

The Bill proposes that the current 1 year minimum period of holding permanent residence be increased to 4 years for most applicants. Currently, time spent lawfully in Australia on temporary and bridging visas can count towards the 4-year residence requirement.
The main report did not recommend changing the proposed residence requirement, but did acknowledge the significant impact on permanent residents who had made future plans based on eligibility for Australian citizenship. As a result, the committee recommended that transitional provisions apply to people who held Australian permanent residence as of 20 April 2017.

Dissenting reports were scathing on the proposed residence requirement and in particular:

Residence in Australia on a temporary visa does indicate a commitment to Australia
Not being able to obtain citizenship can reduce people’s contribution to Australia
Quoted many instances of people who had been in Australia for long periods of time and contributed to the economy
Labor cited a lack of evidence that longer residence would actually result in better integration and social outcomes
Integration Test

Dissenting reports held that the proposed changes will negatively impact the cohesion of Australian society and would actually increase the risk of security issues. For instance:
Labour suggested that programs supporting integration into the Australian community be boosted – for instance the Adult Migrant English Program, the National Community Hubs Program, the Translating and Interpreting Service and various State and Territory services
The Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) believes that the bill will “create a permanent underclass of Australian residents who will be denied the rights and opportunities of … being Australian citizens”
Children Born in Australia

Children born in Australia currently become Australian citizens by operation of law on their 10th birthday – even if they spend time in Australia without a visa. The proposed legislation would eliminate this pathway.
The main report echoed concerns expressed by the Australian Human Rights Commission, Public Law and Policy Research Unit, Law Council and the Kaldor and Gilbert + Tobin Centres on the impact of the proposed changes, especially for children of asylum seekers and children of parents who had overstayed their visas. However, it made no recommendation to change this aspect of the Bill.

The Greens expressed serious concerns about the impact of the changes on children, particular if they became stateless or were punished for transgressions of their parents. The Greens cited submissions from UNICEF and the Australian Lawyers Alliance. The Nick Xenophon Team report also expressed concerns.

Increase in Ministerial Discretion

Ministerial Discretion to cancel, revoke or delay taking of pledge

The Bill introduced new powers for the Minister to:
Cancel approval for citizenship
Revoke citizenship
Delay an applicant taking the pledge of allegiance for up to 2 years
The main report expressed some concern about the expansion of ministerial discretion but stated that the power to revoke was justified on national security grounds.
Merits Review and Ministerial Discretion

Some Ministerial decisions would be excluded from merits review at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). The Minister would also have the power under the proposed legislation to set aside decisions at the AAT, if refusing or revoking citizenship is in the public interest.
On this ground, the main report indicated that the Minister’s power was justified on the basis that they were accountable to the Australian people, whereas the AAT is “accountable to no one”.

The Greens were highly concerned about the Minister’s power to revoke citizenship and override AAT decisions.

Broad Instrument Making Power

Concerns were expressed about the broad instrument making power of the Minister in submissions to the Senate Committee. Instead of having requirements set out in the Citizenship Act, many key requirements would be set out by Legislative Instruments which are not “disallowable” and hence excluded from Parliamentary oversight. An example of this would be the statement of Australian values, but the Bill gives the Minister seemingly unfettered power to make instruments. The explanatory statement indicates that the intention of these is to be able to specify matters such as the method of payment of fees, but there is no explicit restriction to this effect.
The main report echoed concerns which had been expressed by the Scrutiny of Bills Committee but did not make a recommendation to change the Bill in this aspect.

The Nick Xenophon Team report expressed concern about the Minister’s broad instrument making power, particularly in relation to the Australian Values and integration assessment components.

Repeat Sittings of the Citizenship Test

The Bill allowed the Minister to set a maximum number of times an applicant can sit the Citizenship test – the Department of Immigration indicated it would set a limit of 3 times.
The main report suggested that repeat sittings be allowed, but taking the test after 3 times would require the applicant to pay for the cost of the test.

The Nick Xenophon Team report suggested that there be no limit to the number of times a person can sit the test.

TAS Sponsorship New Guidelines

 

From 1 July 2017:
 New Category for overseas applicants (489 visa only): A new Category for the
Skilled Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 489) has been introduced for
Tasmanian Government state nomination. Overseas (offshore) applicants will be
eligible to apply under this new Category.
 Changes to eligibility for ‘Category 3 – Family in Tasmania’: Applicants with
eligible family members residing in Tasmania will only be eligible for Skilled Regional
(Provisional) visa (subclass 489) nomination.

From 1 August 2017:
 Labour market testing for ‘Category 2 – Job Offer’ (489 visa only): For Skilled
Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 489) nomination, employer offering
employment for a position at ANZSCO skill level 4 or below will need to provide
evidence of genuine attempts to recruit workers from the domestic labour market.

From 1 October 2017:
 Three months prior employment requirement for ‘Category 2 – Job Offer’
(BOTH 190 and 489 visas): Onshore applicants with employment in Tasmania will
only be eligible for nomination if they have been working in Tasmania for 3 months
prior to lodging their application for state nomination.
[12:37 PM, 9/13/2017] +61 404 490 111: From 1 January 2018:
 Two year study requirement (190 visa only): Applicants will need to have
completed two years of study at a CRICOS-registered Tasmanian tertiary institution
instead of one year.
 Please refer to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP)
Australian study requirement as to what constitutes two years of study. If the
applicant is claiming regional study points with DIBP, they would meet the two year
study requirement.
 One year study requirement remains in place for provisional visa nomination
(489 visa).

TAS Sponsorship New Guidelines

https://www.migration.tas.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/151775/Fact_Sheet_-_Reforms_to_Tasmania_s_state_nomination_policy_-_6_July_2017_-_FINAL.pdf

The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee has released its Report on the Inquiry into the Australian Citizenship Bill 2017

The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee has released its Report on the Inquiry into the Australian Citizenship Bill 2017.
The Committee has made four recommendations:
Recommendation 1
3.122 That the Government clarify the standard for English-language
competency required for citizenship, noting that the required standard should not be so high as to disqualify from citizenship many Australians who, in the past, and with a more basic competency in the English language, have proven to be valuable members of the Australian community.
Recommendation 2
3.123 That the Government reconsider the imposition of a two-year ban on applications for citizenship following three failed attempts of the citizenship test, and consider other
arrangements that allow additional tests on a cost-recovery basis that would deter less-genuine applicants.
Recommendation 3
3.124 That the Government consider introducing some form of transitional provisions for those people who held permanent residency visas on or before 20 April 2017 so that the current residency requirements apply to this cohort of citizenship applicants.
Recommendation 4
3.125 That the Senate pass the bill.

Keep up with the latest changes and news from Engineers Australia!

Keep up with the latest changes and news from Engineers Australia!

English Language Test
From the 1st of November 2017, Engineers Australia will be accepting the Pearson’s Test of English (PTE) (Academic) for Migration Skills Assessment as well as for Membership assessment purposes. Applicants submitting their application after the 1st of November will be able to use either the IELTS, the TOEFL iBT or the PTE (Academic) to demonstrate their level of English in an assessment application.
Applicants must show a minimum score of 50 in each of the 4 modules (Listening, Writing, Reading and Speaking).

Peter Dutton’s Australian citizenship crackdown doomed after key senators pull support

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s controversial crackdown on Australian citizenship appears doomed, with the crucial Nick Xenophon Team declaring it won’t support the plan as it stands. The proposal, which passed the lower house, would introduce a four-year waiting period for permanent residents, tough English language requirements and a test on Australian “values”. But the changes are set to be blocked in the Senate by Labor, the Greens and now the NXT, which confirmed its position to Fairfax Media on Tuesday. “We will not be supporting the bill’s passage through the Parliament,” NXT senator Stirling Griff said. Mr. Dutton’s plan was “an attempt to fix problems that don’t exist”, he said.  We’re a nation built on migration and the envy of the world when it comes to a harmonious multicultural society. The system isn’t broken, there’s no need for it to be repaired.”

Senator Xenophon also confirmed: “We’ve got serious concerns about the bill in its current form.” senator Griff sat on a Senate inquiry on the proposed citizenship changes and wrote a report opposing most elements of the package, recommending that the bill not proceed.

http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/peter-duttons-australian-citizenship-crackdown-doomed-after-key-senators-pull-support-20170905-gyb1ls.html

Required Points Drop for SkillSelect in August 23 Round.

To the relief of many applicants for General Skilled Migration, the required scores for 189 invitations have started to drop.

This article looks at the SkillSelect invitation rounds so far in the 2017-18 program year and looks at the required points and waiting times for the most popular skilled occupations.

Skilled Independent Subclass 189 – Non Pro Rata Occupations

For non-pro rata occupations, the minimum score for an invitation for a Skilled Independent Subclass 189 visa has dropped from 70 to 65 in the latest round.
Waiting time with 65 points is 30 weeks, but we expect this to reduce over the next few rounds. Eventually, we expect the minimum score to drop to 60 but it is difficult to predict when this is likely to happen.

Accountants and Auditors

Minimum score for accountants and auditors remains at 75 points. Looking at waiting times, these are not reducing as quickly as expected, so the score may remain at 75 for the next few months at least.
points and waiting times.

IT Professionals

Minimum score for ICT Business and Systems Analysts remain at 70, but the minimum score for Software and Applications Programmers and Computer Network Professionals has dropped to 65 points in the most recent round.

Engineers

Most engineering specialisations are not pro rata so the minimum score will be 65 for these occupations.
Industrial, Mechanical and Production Engineers dropped to 65 in the most recent round, and looking at the waiting times for Electronics Engineers, we expect this occupation to follow in the next invitation round.

Other Engineering Professionals is also likely to drop from 70 to 65, but this may take another round or two.

Skilled Regional Provisional Subclass 489 – Family Sponsored

Minimum points for the Skilled Regional Provisional Subclass 489 family sponsored option have been 60 for the whole program year.
We suspect that many of the invitations for this subclass have been for pro rata occupations.

Posted in GSM