Permanent Employer Sponsored Visa Program Changes Announced

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Permanent Employer-Sponsored Visa Program Changes AnnouncedAustralian Immigration and Citizenship Minister Chris Bowen has announced significant changes to simplify the process for the permanent employer-sponsored visa program with the changes to be introduced on 1 July 2012.

The reforms will improve the program’s ability to:

  • meet Australia’s economic needs
  • respond quickly to labour market demand
  • ensure that limited program places go to those who will make the
    greatest contribution to Australia.The key changesIn 2011, a comprehensive review of the permanent employer-sponsored visa program including public consultation was conducted. The key reforms that evolved from the review include:
  • collapsing the existing visa subclasses from six to two. This will be achieved by: removing the existing distinctions between in and outside Australia and replacing the permanent labour agreement visa with streams in the ENS and RSMS
  • introducing a streamlined and simplified pathway to permanent residence for eligible Temporary Business (Long Stay) subclass 457 visa holders
  • raising the upper age limit to less than 50 years
  • changes to key visa criteria including English language and skill requirements
  • introducing one consolidated sponsored occupation list to replace the 457 occupation list, the Employer Nomination Skilled Occupation List (ENSOL) and the State and Territory Sponsored Occupation List (StatSOL)
  • strategically refocussing the regional certifying body (RCB) network to the Direct Entry stream of RSMS
  • integrating the new ENS and RSMS visas with the skilled migrant selection model—SkillSelect, which will be launched on 1 July 2012.

A new visa structure

The current employer-sponsored visa classes and subclasses will be replaced with two new visas:

  • Employer Nomination (Class EN) Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186)
  • Regional Employer Nomination (Class RN) Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (subclass 187).

Within each of these visa subclasses there will be three streams:

  • The Temporary Residence Transition stream is for subclass 457 visa holders who have worked for their employer for at least the last two years and the employer wants to offer them a permanent position inthat same occupation.
  • The Direct Entry stream is for applicants who are untested in the Australian labour market and have not held a subclass 457 for at least the last two years or are applying directly from outside Australia.
  • The Agreement stream is for applicants who are being sponsored by an employer through a highly scrutinised and negotiated labour agreement or regional migration agreement. An employer or visa applicant will need to meet the requirements of the particular stream.

The Temporary Residence Transition stream

As part of the 2011–12 Budget, the government announced its intention to establish a fast-tracked and simplified pathway from Australia’s principal temporary work visa category, the subclass 457 visa, to permanent residence.

This was in recognition of the important economic and social contribution these skilled workers make to Australia. This forms the basis for the Temporary Residence Transition stream.

This stream is targeted at subclass 457 visa holders who have worked for their employer for the last two years and the employer wants to offer them a permanent position in that occupation immediately preceding their ENS or RSMS application.

Employers who want to nominate subclass 457 visa holders who they are currently sponsoring will need to meet the following criteria:

  • The job or position being nominated for permanent residence is consistent with the position the person held while on their subclass 457 visa.
  • The position will continue to be available to the prospective migrant for at least two years.
  • The terms and conditions of employment are the same as any that would apply to an Australian citizen.
  • The prospective migrant will be paid the ‘market rate’. That is, the nominee will be paid at least as much as an Australian employed in the same position in the same location.
  • The employer has met, or continues to meet, the subclass 457 training requirement.

Employers applying for an RSMS Temporary Residence Transition employer nomination will need to be actively and lawfully operating in regional Australia. Visa applicants who are eligible to apply through this stream will need to meet key visa criteria including:

  • being less than 50 years of age, unless they are exempt*
  • have English language proficiency of at least five in each of the four components of the International English Language Test Score (IELTS) test, unless they are exempt*.

These visa applicants will not need to have their skills and qualifications assessed for the permanent visa because of their prior employment and continuing employer sponsorship.

* Further information on criteria exemptions under exceptional circumstances versus exemptions section.

The Direct Entry stream

The Direct Entry stream will be for visa applicants outside Australia or who are not able to apply under the Temporary Residence Transition stream, for example, international students.

Employers who apply through ENS Direct Entry will need to demonstrate:

  • The business is actively and lawfully operating in Australia.
  • The position is full-time and available to the prospective migrant for at least two years.
  • The nominated occupation is on the new consolidated sponsored occupation list.
  • The prospective migrant will be paid the ‘market rate’. That is, the nominee will be paid at least as much as an Australian employed in the same position in the same location.
  • The employer provides training to Australians.

Employers who apply through the RSMS Direct Entry will need to meet different criteria that include:

  • The business is actively and lawfully operating in regional Australia.
  • The position is full-time and available to the visa applicant for at least two years.
  • The position has been certified by an RCB.
  • The nominated position is classified as being a skill level 1–3 occupation in ANZSCO.
  • The prospective migrant will be paid the ‘market rate’. That is, the nominee will be paid at least as much as an Australian employed in the same job.

Visa applicants applying through the Direct Entry stream will have an untested relationship with their sponsor and limited familiarity with Australian working conditions.

To ensure these visa holders are able to achieve the best workplace and settlement outcomes they will be expected to meet more stringent English language proficiency and skill requirements.

Those applying under ENS Direct Entry will need to:

  • provide a positive skills assessment and have at least three years of relevant prior work experience, unless they are exempt*
  • be less than 50 years old, unless they are exempt*
  • posess ‘competent English’ that is equivalent to a score of six in each of the IELTS test components, unless they are exempt*.

Those applying under RSMS Direct Entry will need to:

  • have a relevant Australian or overseas qualifications. Minimum qualification levels will be determined by the nominated ANZSCO skill level from 1–3 (trade occupations at skill level 3 will require a Trades Recognition Australia (TRA) assessment if they do not hold an Australian qualification)
  • be less than 50 years old, unless they are exempt
  • demonstrate ‘competent English’ that is equivalent to a score of six in each of the IELTS test components, unless they are exempt*.

* Further information on criteria exemptions under exceptional circumstances versus exemptions section.

The Labour Agreement stream

The Labour Agreement stream is for visa applicants whose nominator holds a labour agreement for the occupation in which they are being nominated. Applicants applying under this stream will need to meet the requirements outlined in their nominator’s labour agreement.

Visa applicants applying under a labour agreement will need to meet skills and experience, English language proficiency, age and other requirements as specified in the applicable labour agreement.

A labour agreement is a formal arrangement negotiated between an employer and the Australian Government and will only be considered where genuine skills shortage exists and there are no suitably qualified or experienced Australians readily available.

Further Information for employers seeking access to a labour agreement is available.

See: www.immi.gov.au/skilled/skilled-workers/la/

Exceptional circumstances versus exemptions

The current permanent employer-sponsored visa categories accommodate unique and unusual applications through the exceptional circumstances provision for age, skill or qualification and English language requirements.

This has allowed applicants who were not able meet these criteria to be considered for permanent residence if they could demonstrate exceptional circumstances.

The existing subjective exceptional circumstances provision will be replaced with more objective exemption categories. This reform will provide more clarity and certainty to applicants, while ensuring the visa programs are still able to respond flexibly to unique cases.

There will be exemptions available for age, skills and English language ability in the Temporary Residence and Direct Entry streams. Exemptions will be based on a person’s nominated occupation, salary or the time they have been employed with their nominator.

Concessions sought under a labour agreement must be negotiated in the existing way.

Age exemptions will be available to applicants:

  • nominated in specific occupations where the typical age profile is older due to the specialised or technical nature of their work, for example Minister of Religion and researchers or scientists employed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) or the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) or
  • applying through the Temporary Residence Transition stream and have been employed with their sponsor for the last four years and their salary is at least equivalent to the Fair Work high income threshold (AUD118 100 as at 1 July 2011).

Skill and qualification exemptions will be available to applicants who are:

  • nominated in an occupation where formal academic training is uncommon, such as Ministers of Religion
  • in an occupation where they will be paid executive-level salaries, currently set at AUD250 000
  • scientific and technical specialists employed by Australian universities or scientific research agencies such as CSIRO or ANSTO for research, academic, scientific or other specialist work.

English language exemptions will be available to applicants:

  • nominated in an occupation the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship considers is exempt, for instance Ministers of Religion
  • who are a citizen of and hold a valid passport for the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada, the Republic of Ireland or New Zealand
  • applying through the Temporary Residence Transition stream and have completed at least five consecutive years of full-time study in a secondary or higher education institution where all of the tuition was delivered in English.

People who are unable to meet the higher benchmark for the Direct Entry stream, and are not exempted, will need to obtain a subclass 457 visa. After two years work in Australia, they will be eligible to qualify for the streamlined, fast-tracked, Temporary Residence Transition stream.

Benefiting regional Australia

In recognition of the complex labour market conditions and limited labour supply available in many regional and remote areas, the RSMS will continue to support regional employers.

An employer located in regional Australia who chooses to use the RSMS will:

  • have access to a broader range of occupations at ANZSCO 1 – 3 skill level occupations
  • have reduced application fees
  • have relaxed skill requirements for prospective migrants such as not requiring them to have extensive work experience in the nominated occupation
  • not have to meet relevant training criteria.

SkillSelect

The changes to the permanent employer-sponsored visa program will coincide with the implementation of SkillSelect on 1 July 2012. SkillSelect is the new skilled migration selection process, based on an expression of interest system, which aligns the best available prospective skilled migration candidates with the fluctuating demands of the labour market.

As part of the introduction of SkillSelect sponsors and visa applicants will be able to apply for the new permanent employer-sponsored visas online.

Further information

More information about the skilled migration program is available on the department’s website.
See: www.immi.gov.au/skilled/

If you have a specific question relating to the permanent employer-sponsored visa program reforms you can email the Sponsored Skilled section.

Email sponsored.skilled@immi.gov.au

Further information about SkillSelect is available on the department’s website.

See: www.immi.gov.au/skills/skillselect/

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Showing 12 comments

  • Sarab
    Reply

    Hi mark plz reply I had done cert 3 in cookery I got 6 each in all 4 component do I need to do cert 4 as well as I have to apply for RSMS looking forward hearing from u thanx

  • Kevin
    Reply

    Hi
    I am an New Zealander and currently working in Sydney as a Sonographer for a medical organisation for only 1 year, can I apply for direct entry under ENS? Thanks.

  • pardeep
    Reply

    hi my brother has pr of Australia,from last 4 year. i also want to go Australia for work & pr, pls tell me any fast track solution ,in which way my brother sponsor me………….

  • jeremy
    Reply

    I was an international business student in australia for 2 year and after i finished i got a job in an export & import firm, well they are ready to sponsor me but it is a small firm and well they wants to know whether they are eligible to sponsor me , can some one tell me how to find out . i have checked immi and lawyers still not satisfied with the training condition in the bench mark for sponsoring. well can some one advise me more on that?

    • jeremy
      Reply

      Hi mark , do you know what is a training bench mark, and whom should i contact for that training section to be conducted in my company?? well do the company follow all the sponsoring requirements before sponsoring or is it fine if they meet all the requirements of sponsoring, once they meet and sponsor me and then follow it up regularly for the period of sponsorship, cheers mate .. advises are welcome

  • Rj
    Reply

    Hi there .. Pls give me some advise . I have done my cert 3rd in hairdressing and two diploma in management and hairdressing. Do i need to get cert 4 to get RSMS ? What should i do to apply PR in Australia. I will be really grateful to you. Thanx alot in advance.

  • manjit
    Reply

    hi i aplied rsms almost 9 months no responce yet reading my pr and i have 3 month baby and i also add her name in my bec my lawyer cant do any thing he nt even pick any body phone .i dont know what i suppose to do how could i add her name plz help me out how i can what r the document i need that for thanks

  • ja
    Reply

    pls can u guide me i have finished hairdrssing , diploma in business and now am studying in certificate iii in cookery even though still do i need certificate iv in cookery and how i can apply 457 visa i havent got ielts 6 thanks
    ja

  • many
    Reply

    hi mark
    my name is many i am from india.now i am in australia.i have done my study in hairdressing.before came in australia i was apply my PR in hairdressing because i have done my one year course 2001.i have more then five year paid experience in my field from india.i have my TRA acessment which i done in 2006 can i aply my Permanent residency now and what requirement for the visa.thanks

  • jack souter
    Reply

    hi there
    hoping somebody can help with my work situation.

    i’m currently living in australia on a 457 visa that was issued july 2011.
    i work for a global offshore company with a division in australia and they are the sponsors for the visa. my work requires me to travel abroad regularly and often require visa’s for the country’s i visit.

    all this is part of my job description for my role which is based out of Perth.

    my company has just started on a contract based in china, and will be supplying equipmant and personal to china for the duration of this job
    i’m required to attain a 1 year multi entry Work/Residence visa to work in china for the duration of the contract. it will be a month and month rotation between China and Australia

    is there any rules or regulations regarding the 457 that prevent me doing this? does the fact it has residence in the name of the visa prevent me applying for it on a 457?
    or would the statement “unlimited travel to and from Australia for the duration of the Visa” mean that this is ok???

    i have been hunting high and low for an answer on the IMMI website and can find nothing that really relates to this question.
    please help
    thanks
    jack

  • Bill Glendenning
    Reply

    Hi Mark
    i left australia while still a permanent resident
    got a divorce to my permanent resident wife in australia before i left
    Went back to PNG to work because i was made redundent here in australia
    i meet and married in customary a PNG wife and had 2 children while still a permanent resident of Aust
    My permanent residency run out while in PNG
    I have tried to re-apply but was rejected by the High commision in PNG
    i do not have any family in PNG they all live in Australia (mother,2 brothers and my sister)
    So i now have applied for and have NZealand citizenship in live in Brisbane ( by descent)
    with my new wife and 2 children who are tempary residents for 5 yrs

    i have a couple of questions
    1. My 2 children born in PNG while i was a Australian permanent resident working overseas do they have the right to be permanent residents by law.

    2. my Permanent residency can that be restored even though i am a new Zealand citizen

    Thank you

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