General Skilled Migration Update August 2017

The article looks at recent developments in General Skilled Migration such as:
Policy change for Graduate Diplomas in meeting the 2-year study requirement
Processing times
State Nomination Update
Occupational Ceilings/SkillSelect Update
Graduate Diplomas – Policy Change for 2-Year Study Requirement
The Australian Study Requirement (usually referred to as the 2-Year Study Requirement) is relevant for the following visas:
Graduate Temporary Subclass 485 visas
General Skilled Migration – awarding points for Australian study
Postgraduate Diplomas are listed in the Migration Regulations as being an eligible qualification in assessing the 2-year study requirement. Whilst they are not eligible qualifications for the 485 Post Study Work Stream, it has previously been possible to use them for the points test and applying for the 485 Graduate Work Stream.
The Department of Immigration policy document for the 2-year study requirement was recently updated, and it indicates that a Graduate Diploma would not count towards the Australian Study requirement.
If you are completing a Graduate Diploma you must be aware that your eligibility may be affected.
Policy would appear to be in conflict with the Migration Regulations in this matter, and you may need some professional assistance in establishing that you meet the Australian Study Requirement.
Occupation Ceiling and SkillSelect Update
The Occupation Ceilings for General Skilled Migration were released by the Department of Immigration on 3 August and were revised on 7 August.
Last year, the Department initially gave an increased occupation ceiling for accountants which was then hastily revised downwards to 2,500. This year, the ceiling has increased significantly (to 4785 places). Thus far, the ceiling has not been revised downwards, so the situation looks positive for accountants for the time being at least.
We now have a ceiling number for ANZSCO 2621 Database and Systems Administrators and ICT Security Specialists. This will be good news for ICT Security specialists with an allocation of 2391 places for 2017-18.
We now have statistics for the 12 July and 26 July invitation rounds. Required points for all occupations remain high (70 points minimum for a 189 invitation, with some occupations requiring 75). However, we see waiting times reducing, which suggests that Immigration is working through a backlog of EOIs with 70 or more points and that required points for 189 invitations will reduce over time.
We can see that about 10% of the occupation ceiling was used up for pro rata occupations, which suggests that Immigration may be allocating up to 5% of the ceiling for these occupations each invitation round.
The table below summarises the following for pro rata occupations:
Points required for the two invitation rounds in July 2017
Points required in the 2016-17 program year
Percentage change in the occupation ceiling between 2016-17 and 2017-18
Likely points required for a 189 invitation in the 2017-18 program year
Whilst it is impossible to give any certainty on the points required for an invitation, we have made a prediction based on the occupation ceilings and number of EOI lodgements remaining stable.

Occupation July 2017 Points 2016-17 Points Change in Ceiling 2017-18 Prognosis
2211 Accountants 75 70 91.4% Increase Points required likely to reduce to 70 or 65
2212 Auditors, Company Secretaries and Corporate Treasurers 75 70 6.1% Decrease Points likely to be 70-75 for 2017-18
2334 Electronics Engineers 70 65 No Change Points likely to reduce to 65
2335 Industrial, Mechanical and Production Engineers 70 60-65 41.5% Increase Points likely to reduce to 65
2339 Other Engineering Professionals 70 60-65 No Change Likely to reduce to 65
2611 ICT Business and Systems Analysts 75 65 6.2% Increase Likely to reduce to 70 or 65 points
2613 Software and Applications Programmers 70 65 9.5% Increase Likely to reduce to 65 points
2631 Computer Network Professionals 70 60-65 7.6% Decrease Likely to reduce to 65 points

Processing times have been updated and for General Skilled Migration, the Department of Immigration is indicating a processing time of 6-11 months. This is longer than was previously the case, but allocation dates would seem to indicate that applications are being allocated quite quickly. It appears that processing itself has slowed down, and this is possibly due to numbers for the 2016-17 filling early:

Application Type 75% finalised within 90% finalised within
Skilled Independent Subclass 189 8 months 11 months
Skilled Nominated Subclass 190 9 months 13 months
489 – State Nominated 8 months 14 months
489 – Family Sponsored 6 months 9 months
485 – Post-Study Work 79 days 4 months
485 – Graduate Work 4 months 4 months

State Migration Plans Updated for Most States and Territories

All states and territories have now updated their State Migration Plans for the 2017-18 program year, apart from NSW and NT.
Tasmania is one of the best states for state nomination, but will be increasing their requirements in the coming months (for instance, amount of time required to work or study in Tasmania).
West Australia is one of the more difficult states as their list is quite limited and minimum work experience and job offer requirements apply.