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March 15, 2012 – Just recently, Australia Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has revealed the Australian government’s updates on its permanent employer-sponsored Australian visa program.
The latest reforms will impact the following Australian visa application options, namely Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS), Regional Skilled Migration Scheme (RSMS) and Labor Agreement.
The said recent reforms was aimed to improve the program’s ability to meeting Australia’s economic needs, responding quickly to labor market demand, as well as making certain that limited program places go to those who will make the greatest contribution to Australia.
Starting on 1 July 2012, the current 6 subclasses of Employer Sponsored visas will be simplified into 2 new Australia skilled visa, with each of these Australia visa subclasses having three distinct eligibility streams – namely 457 visas to Australia holders, direct applicants and Labor Agreement applicants. Australian employer or visa for Australia applicants will still be required to meet the Australian visa requirements of the particular stream.
Likewise, the pathway from Australia’s principal temporary work visa category, the subclass 457 visa, to permanent residence was also fast-tracked and simplified. This was attributed in recognition by the Australian government of the important economic and social contribution the skilled workers who work in Australia made to Australia.
Moreover, under the latest system, there will be a much more restrictive exemptions applied for ENS and RSMS visas.
The maximum age for ENS and RSMS visas was also increased to 50 years while there were changes made to the English language and qualification and skill requirements for ENS and RSMS. 457 visa immigration Australia applicants will not anymore be required to take further English tests. However, for Direct Entry stream applicants, the basic English level has been increased to Competent English (6 minimum in each component of IELTS) while for Temporary Residence Transition stream applicants, a 5 minimum English requirement in IELTS (Vocational) for both ENS and RSMS visas is required.
ENS applicants applying through the Direct Entry stream, as well as RSMS applicants in trade occupations applying through the Direct Entry stream, will be now required to undergo skills assessments. Moreover, for ENS Direct Entry stream applicants, they are also required to show 3 years of work experience in their occupation while RSMS applicants are required to show that they have a qualification at the AQF III level or higher.
The latest round of reforms have also caused the occupations list for ENS, 457 and State/Territory Sponsored Points Tested visas to be combined, forming a single list as well as RSMS and ENS visas will now have an E-lodgment.