On July 1, 2011, Australia will introduce a new points-based
system for the General Skilled Migration (GSM)
category, which includes several of the country's permanent
residence programs that do not require employer sponsorship. GSM
applicants who file applications on or after July 1 will be judged
against the new points-based test, which generally focuses on
selecting highly skilled individuals to meet labor market demand.
The Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship announced
the new system on November 11, 2010.
The most relevant changes to the points-based system are:
The pass mark for the points-based test is expected to be
lowered to 65 points from the current 120 points.
Points will no longer be awarded based on occupation. However,
applicants must still nominate an occupation listed in the Skilled
Occupations List and applicants will still have to provide a
satisfactory occupational skills assessment from the relevant
Greater weight will be placed on higher level educational
qualifications. Under the new system, applicants will be able to
earn points for overseas educational qualifications, provided they
are from approved and recognized universities. Under the current
system, only Australian educational qualifications can earn
Applicants who have completed tertiary studies in Australia
will be eligible to claim additional points. Further points may be
earned if the applicant's studies were completed at
Greater weight will be given to accumulated work experience and
higher levels of English language skills.
The maximum age of principal applicants for the GSM will be
raised to 49 years old, from the current 44 years old.
Family sponsorship will only be available to applicants with
families who live in specified regional areas.
Note that the new points-based test will apply to the GSM
category only; other skilled migration visa categories are not
affected. The new points-based system is the final stage of the GSM
reforms that began earlier this year. The GSM category is used by
foreign nationals who are not sponsored by an employer but who have
skills in occupations that are in high demand in Australia. The GSM
category includes the Skilled Independent, Skilled Sponsored,
Skilled Regional Sponsored, and the Provisional Skilled Regional
Sponsored visa programs.
The Australian government is expected to promulgate legislation
to support and implement the new points-based test policy closer to
July 1, 2011. Fragomen will continue to monitor developments and
provide updates as necessary.
GSM Sponsorship by States and Territories
Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory and Victoria
have finalized their State Migration Plans, and
other states are expected to do so in the near future. As
previously reported, Australia's national
government has been working with state and territorial governments
to develop GSM sponsorship options for skilled foreign nationals in
occupations that are in high demand locally, but that may not be in
high demand nation-wide. Pursuant to these State Migration Plans,
Australian state and territorial governments may nominate
individuals for GSM visas, provided that their nominated occupation
is included in the state's or territory's plan.
There is also some flexibility in limited circumstances that may
allow authorities to consider applications for occupations that are
not included in the state or territory's plan.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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