Australian Immigration News – October 2019

Weekly Update on Australian Immigration News

Australian Immigration News and Migration Updates by Seekvisa Migration Agents and Immigration Lawyers.

New skilled regional visas

Two new skilled regional visas will open to applications on 16 November 2019.  These new visas will promote regional migration and replace two existing subclasses:

New Replaces
Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 491) Skilled Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 489) – first provisional stream
Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 494) Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme visa (subclass 187) – Direct Entry stream

Benefits of new visas

  • Priority processing of regional applications
  • Incentives for migrants to stay in regional areas longer term as they build ties through workforce and community participation
  • Can apply for permanent residence without a second nomination stage, if eligible, through the subclass 191 visa (commences 16 November 2022)
  • Lower cost to employers with only one SAF levy stage for the subclass 494 nomination (compared to the two stages for the current subclass 482 to ENS subclass 186 permanent resident pathway)
  • More points available to subclass 491 visa applicants
  • Broader range of occupations available than non-regional pathways
  • Expanded and consistent classification of regional areas
  • Regional Australia is everywhere except metropolitan Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Important change: Perth and Gold Coast are classified as regional areas
  • You can move between regions without having to apply for a new regional visa (491 visa only)
  • Regional areas include Perth, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Lake Macquarie, Illawarra, Geelong, Newcastle, Wollongong, Adelaide, Hobart and Canberra.

The minimum taxable income for the subclass 494 and 191 visa will be set at the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) unless concessions are agreed (such as in relation to a DAMA). TSMIT is currently $53,900.

We will provide more information about the new skilled regional visas as we receive them.

Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme visa closes 16 November 2019

The Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) Direct Entry (DE) stream visa will close to new applications from 16 November 2019. Employers/migration agents who intend to lodge RSMS nomination and visa applications under the DE stream should submit a request for assessment by a relevant Regional Certifying Body (RCB) regarding local labour market conditions before this date.

New points from November 2019

Applicants and intending migrants will not be disadvantaged by the changes to 6D points for Points Tested visas. These come into effect on 16 November 2019.

SkillSelect will automatically update points for all Expressions of Interest (EOI) in submitted status.  This will not change the ‘date of effect’ for any EOI.

SkillSelect will not update points for any EOIs in draft status as no points have been attributed at this stage.

Systems functionality is still being developed and any information required by agents will be provided in due course.

The next update to Australia’s skilled migration occupation lists is scheduled to be announced in March 2020.

Further information is available on the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business website.

  • SBS News and Sky News lead widespread coverage that Australia’s annual permanent migration intake has fallen to the lowest level in over a decade, with a total of 160,323 permanent visas granted in 2018-19 under the Permanent Migration Program, which is down by 15%. The fall in numbers coincides with the government’s shift towards settling more migrants in regional Australia and the federal government is planning to address the issue of low regional employment by setting places aside for skilled foreign workers.
  • Skilled Regional (Provisional) Visa Subclass 489 to be replaced with Subclass 491 from 16th November 2019- The subclass 489 visa will close from 16 November 2019. The Australian Government’s Department of Home Affairs have announced that the last day for states and territories to nominate and issue invitations for the subclass 489 applicants will be 10 September 2019. Some states are progressively closing their subclass 489 Skilled Regional state nomination program to new applications. Here are the latest state announcements. New visas from 16 November 2019:

If you would like to process your visa application through Seekvisa, the best way to start is to have a consultation with one of our experienced registered migration agents.

Risk Level Changes for Students from certain countries

India, Nepal, and Pakistan are among the higher risk countries and Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador, Hungary, Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan, South Africa are now considered ‘low risk’ for an Australian Student visa.

The department of Immigration uses a combined evidence level of the student’s education provider and country of citizenship to determine whether the student needs to provide evidence of financial and English language capacity with their student visa application.

Greater access to skilled overseas workers for regional Australia

A steady flow of labour agreement, nomination and visa applications are coming through from DAMA regions.

There are 7 DAMAs in effect supporting regional outcomes:

  • DAMA skills assessments (VIC, WA, SA QLD and NSW DAMAs)

  • DAMA Skills Assessment processes: VETASSESS will be providing skills assessments for occupation for skilled and semi-skilled overseas workers for the following DAMA programs: SA – Adelaide City Technology and Innovation Advancement Agreement
    SA – South Australian Regional Workforce Agreement
    WA – Goldfields
    VIC – Great South Coast
    NSW – Orana (opening late September)
    QLD – Far North Queensland (opening soon)
  • VETASSESS is the skills assessing authority for specified DAMA occupations not on the eligible skills lists.  DAMAs enable employers to sponsor overseas workers in a broader range of occupations than the existing skilled migration visa pathways. The occupations approved for each DAMA reflect the unique labour requirements in their region.

Visa applications for DAMA occupations with no skills and experience concessions, and normally available through the skilled migration program, will continue to have their skills assessed by the assessing authority indicated in the relevant legislation.

  • Far North Queensland DAMA (FNQA) is now in operation. This DAMA features:
    • 70 occupations for employer sponsorship, including three non-ANZSCO occupations
    • pathways to permanent residency for holders of TSS visas granted under the FNQ DAMA in select occupations
    • a broad range of occupations that reflect FNQ skilled and semi-skilled shortages, with no caveats to apply
    • English language concessions for some occupations
    • salary concessions that reflect FNQ market rates, ensuring that worker terms and conditions of employment are not eroded
    • concessions relating to qualifications and experience for some occupations
    • a range of risk and integrity actions to ensure that the rights of both employees and employers are protected
    • a five year agreement to reduce red tape.
  • Wimmera Times Online reports Wannon MP Dan Tehan and Immigration Minister David Coleman have visited regional Victoria to discuss the roll out of the Great South Coast region’s Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA) before Christmas this year.
  • Permanent Partner Visa cannot be refused until Temporary Visa is determined
  • Additional requirements for NSW nominations
    • The additional requirement is to be currently living in NSW, and to have been employed in NSW for at least one year, in your nominated occupation.
  • Canberra Matrix invitation round 2 September 2019
    •  Invitation date: 2 September 2019- Number of Invitations Issued: 111Matrix score range: All Matrix submitted with 130 to 70 points
  • Working Holiday Visas: Increase to annual caps to a number of countries
    • changes to the WHM visa program which included: Expanding the regional areas where subclass 462 visa holders can work in agriculture
      (plant and animal cultivation) to qualify for a second year of stay in Australia
    • Increasing the period in which subclass 417 and 462 visa holders can stay with the
      same agricultural (plant and animal cultivation) employer, from 6 to 12 months.
    • The option of a third-year for subclass 417 and 462 visa holders who, after 1 July
      2019, undertake 6-months of specified work in a specified regional area during their
      second year
    • Offering an increase in the annual caps to a number of countries that participate in the
      subclass 462 visa program.
    • Increase the eligible age for subclass 417 visa applicants from Canada and Ireland to
      35.
  • High Income Threshold increased: The High Income Threshold under the Fair Work Act increased on 1 July 2019 from $145,000 to $148,700. Applicants relying on meeting this threshold for an ENS or RSMS age exemption must ensure that the relevant threshold is met for each of the three requisite years.
  • Points test changes from 16 November 2019: Applicants and intending migrants will not be disadvantaged by the changes to 6D points for Points Tested visas. These come into effect on 16 November 2019. SkillSelect will automatically update points for all Expressions of Interest (EOI) in submitted status.  This will not change the ‘date of effect’ for any EOI.

Timeline of Transitional arrangements 
9 August 2019 Invitations to apply for State nomination will be issued. This will be your last opportunity to be invited to apply for State nomination under a 489 visa.
29 August 2019 A decision ready application for State nomination under a 489 visa must be lodged. Any extra supporting evidence requested by WA Migration Services must also be submitted by this date.
30 August 2019 Invitation links to apply for WA State nomination under a 489 visa will expire.
5 September 2019 If your 489 WA State nomination application has been approved, your State Nomination Agreement must be signed and returned to WA Migration Services by this date.
6 September 2019 WA Migration Services will finalise all nominations for approved applications in SkillSelect.
11 September 2019 The 489 visa will no longer be an option available in SkillSelect. No new EOIs can be lodged under this visa subclass.
15 November 2019 Applicants will have until 11.59 pm to lodge a 489 visa application with Home Affairs.
16 November 2019 Candidates can commence lodging new EOIs in SkillSelect for the 491 visa option.
21 November 2019 Invitations to apply for WA State nomination under the new 491 visa will commence.

Recent News

491 Visa Occupations List

Regional postcodes after 16 Nov 2019

State requirements for the new 491 visa

494 visa occupations list announced

Perth and Gold Coast are classified as ‘regional’ to attract students and migrants