Second chance for visa hopefuls as extra places allocated to ACT

Second chance for visa hopefuls as extra places allocated to ACT

Potential migrants to the ACT have been given new hope of being able to continue their lives in Canberra, with 600 extra places allocated to the territory by the Department of Home Affairs.

The ACT government will reopen its Skilled Nominated Visa (subclass 190) program for skilled migrants on Thursday, after it was closed suddenly in June to deal with an influx of international students to the territory.

Like other states and territories, the ACT can nominate potential migrants for the subclass 190 visa, which allows state and territory governments to provide pathways to permanent residency for people with skills needed in particular jurisdictions. Nominees must prove a connection to the state or territory and commit to living there for a period after their visa is granted.

As the federal government removed the beleaguered 457 visa and other states and territories tightened their criteria for the subclass 190 visa, international students flooded private colleges in 2017 in order to meet the 12-month study and residency criteria in order to prove a connection to the ACT.

Even though government documents showed bureaucrats were aware the territory wouldn’t be able to meet demand for the visa within the allocation set for it by the federal Department of Home Affairs, Skills Canberra didn’t act until June, shutting the program to new applicants while a new program was developed.

The ACT government confirmed the 600 places would be on top of the normal allocation of 800, meaning 1400 people will be given the opportunity to become permanent residents of the ACT between now and June next year. Around 300 of those places are likely to go to applications received last financial year as applications surged past the ACT’s allocation.

“This demonstrates that the number of places we were previously allocated by the Commonwealth was inadequate and will also allow the ACT to nominate more eligible people and potentially better assist those who were impacted by the partial program closure in June 2018,” Chief Minister Andrew Barr said in a statement.

Under the new nomination system, Skills Canberra will assess applications each month, sending invitations to those with the strongest applications received that month in order to replace the first-in, first-served system with a merit-based system. Under the new model, prospective migrants will gain points depending on how long they have lived in Canberra, if they have studied in Canberra and if their profession is considered in demand.

The new program has no minimum number of points needed to guarantee an invitation, with applicants to be ranked against others applying at the same time.

It also includes extra points for those who already lived in Canberra when the program was shut down in June, but that has been criticised as not going far enough to assist those who had found themselves in the lurch when the program closed. This announcement will go some way to placating hopeful Canberrans, but does not guarantee them a permanent place in the territory.

 

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