Changes in the Australian New Skilled Occupations List 2010

The Australian government has recently announced new immigration reforms which come into effect from the 1st of July 2010. The reforms will apply to General Skilled Migration applications in the form of a new skilled occupation list (SOL). This new list has been specifically designed to better meet the skilled labour requirements of Australia for the future. It is part of a more targeted approach to migration in response to the changing needs of employers across the country. It is intended that the SOL list will be reviewed and updated on an annual basis.

The new list will see a reduction of the total number of occupations down to 181 from a previous number of 400. The new list will be much more focused on high skilled occupations and professions, requiring formal education and training, such as nursing and engineering. Occupations to be cut from the list will include lower skilled jobs, requiring little education and training, such as cookery and hairdressing. The list was developed by Skills Australia, an independent group, and now contains only higher valued occupations.

The changes, in part, are in response to previous government immigration policies which allowed a large influx of low skilled migrants. Previously and currently many people, completing short vocational courses, and at times with low English capabilities, are permitted to obtain permanent residence as a skilled migrant. The new rules will be put in place to attempt to address this problem, so that skills needs, as opposed to educational needs, will drive immigration policy and outcome for the future. It should put to an end an influx of foreign students, currently going to Australia to study for short vocational subjects and subsequently being granted permanent residency on the basis of that training or study.

Migrants to be most affected by the changes will include students who intend to study in Australia on a Subclass 572 visa. This visa is issued for persons wishing to study within the vocational education and training sector. Other students to be affected are those looking to study in higher education, Subclass 573, and those engaging in postgraduate research, Subclass 574. For students currently studying on one of these visas, and seeking visas under the General Skilled Migration Programme, there are however generous transition arrangements. The concessions set out will allow any potential migrant, holding one of the aforementioned visas, as of the 8thof February 2010, to apply for full residency, as their particular applications will not come under the new skilled occupation list. In order to comply with visa regulations for full residency, these students must first submit an application for a Subclass 485 visa, Temporary Residence Visa, by no later than the 31st of December 2012.

People not affected by this new list and regulations include applications for Subclass 457 visas, Temporary 4 Year Working Visa, and additionally international students, going to Australia in order to study and then return to their home country.

The new changes are seen by the government and industry as essential in radically overhauling the way skilled migrants are targeted. It is specifically designed to ensure that people entering Australia on the migration programme in the future have the skills required, including English skills, to meet the demands of Australia for the future. Further to this, Chris Evans, the current immigration minister, has said that the new changes will also help, “To restore integrity to the skilled migration programme.”

The major metropolitan areas of Australia, such as Sydney, are most likely to see the impact of this new legislation, and specifically migrants either currently studying or working, or intending to do so. Any potential migrant would be well advised to look carefully at the latest changes, as immigration regulations can be both difficult to understand and navigate. With this in mind, The Australian Government Department of Immigration and Citizenship, have an informative and comprehensive website that offers useful information along with full lists and categories of all visas available. Alternatively, lists and further help, if needed, can be obtained from an immigration lawyer. Sydney has a large number of immigration lawyers, most with extensive experience. Immigration lawyers can easily be found through the usual local listings and internet searches.