Visa Charges to Increase on 1 July 2015
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection will increase many visa application charges on 1 July 2015.
These adjustments include:
SIV Suspended until 1 July
The significant investor visa program (SIV) will be suspended from 24 April 2015 and reintroduced on 1 July 2015 with new a set of requirements.
New 3 Year Multi-entry Visitor Visa for Chinese Tourists
Trade Minister, Andrew Robb has announced that, “Chinese travellers will be able to make repeat visits to Australia with ease, with a current online visitor visa pilot extended to offer three-year, multiple entry visas to approved applicants.” Previously, visitor visas for Chinese travellers were only valid for 12 months.
ACT Closes Applications for 190 from Overseas Applicants
Overseas applications for ACT State sponsored 190 applications will recommence on 1 July 2015.
Changes to the 457 Program
The following changes have been made to the 457 visa program:
New Work and Holiday Agreement with Vietnam
The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection has signed a new Memorandum of Understanding with Vietnam which will enable a reciprocal arrangement for 200 young Australians and Vietnamese. The new arrangement will increase opportunities for young adults between 18 and 30 to experience a new culture whilst being able to work and study for a year.
New NSW Occupations List
The new lists which are in effect from February 2015 can be found here:
The newest occupation to be added is that of 411411 Enrolled Nurse which has been added to the 190 list for state nomination to New South Wales.
ACT Occupations List
While the number of open occupations has decreased, there is a slight variation in the skill type and industry sector of the occupations that are currently in demand. Changes include:
The ACT 190 nomination guidelines have also been updated, effective 10/02/15, with formatting changes only. In summary, the ACT Skilled Migration Program will give preference to Canberra residents, or their immediate family living overseas who can demonstrate good employment prospects.
The guidelines and occupation list are available at http://www.canberrayourfuture.com.au/portal/migrating/article/skilled-migration-visas/
New NSW State Sponsorship Process
New South Wales is introducing a Selection-based Invitation Process which will ne implemented from February 2015 onwards.
Under the selection and invitation process for the 190 visa program, prospective candidates can only apply for NSW nomination if they have been selected from SkillSelect and invited by NSW Trade & Investment.
For more information please see the following link:
The selection process will be competitive. NSW will rank candidates based on core criteria which is: firstly, a candidate's DIBP points score, then their English ability, and then their skilled employment. Where candidates score the same on these core criteria at time of selection, they will be further ranked based on the date and time that their EOI was submitted in SkillSelect.
The top-ranking candidates will be the first to be invited to apply and NSW will determine how many invitations are issued on an ongoing basis.
New English Test Options
In November 2014, The Department of Immigration and Border Protection announced two new acceptable tests of the English language for visa applicants - the Test of English as a Foreign Language internet-based test (TOEFL iBT) and the Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic). These tests are options in addition to the IELTS and Occupational English Test (OET), and will be accepted for the following visa subclasses:
TOEFL iBT and PTE Academic test scores will be benchmarked against the IELTS equivalent score for each English language proficiency level (Functional, Vocational, Competent, Proficient or Superior).
Partner Visa Charges Increase By 50%
From 1 January 2015 the Department of Immigration and Border Protection have increased the visa charges for all Partner visas by 50%.
This will have the following impact on partner visa application charges:
Prospective Marriage Subclass 300 visas will increase from $3085 to $4627.50.
Offshore Spouse / De Facto Subclass 309 visas will increase from $3085 to $4627.50.
Onshore Spouse / De Facto Subclass 820 visas will increase from $4575 to $6865.50.
Pause in skilled applications for ICT occupations for Victorian State nomination
Due to the large volume of applications received, applications for State nomination for ICT occupations will not be accepted from 1 October 2014 to 5 January 2015.
The temporary closure will allow for the processing of all outstanding applications, with the assistance of industry assessment panels, and will reduce delays for future applicants.
The occupations affected by this pause are:
It is anticipated this closure will be for three months, however further updates will be provided if required.
Applicants applying under the streamlined pathways (e.g. PhD) are not affected by the closure and may continue to apply under these ICT occupations during the temporary closure.
Applications for all other occupations eligible for Victorian Government sponsorship remain open.
New investor visa promises 12 months to permanent residency
Prime Minister Tony Abbot, has announced that the government will introduce a new “Premium Investor Visa” offering a faster 12 month pathway to permanent residency, for those meeting a A$15 million investment threshold.
Key changes in respect of migration reform, include having SIV prospects target their money at areas of priority to the Australian economy. Currently the SIV grants foreigners with $5 million to invest over four years a permanent visa.
According to the Australian Financial Review, the SIV will be altered to push money towards certain areas of the economy. These are likely to be the ‘growth centres’. The government has chosen to focus on five sectors for its growth centres: oil and gas, mining technology, medical technology and pharmaceuticals, food and agribusiness and advanced manufacturing.
Israel added to the Working Holiday program
The working holiday visa has been a popular stepping stone to the 457 visa and subsequently a permanent residence visa. Many skilled working holiday visa holders with carefully prepared and planned migration pathways have successfully made the transition. Australia has been promising to expand the program and has already added Greece, Poland, Spain and Portugal to the list this year. Now, Israel joins the list.
On 22 October 2014, Australia and Israel announced that a new Work and Holiday Memorandum of Understanding was signed, establishing a reciprocal Work and Holiday visa (subclass 462) arrangement between our two countries.
This arrangement, when brought into effect, will allow up to 500 young adults from Israel and up to 500 young adults from Australia to enjoy a holiday in each other’s country, during which they may undertake short term work and study.
In the coming months, Australia and Israel will work closely together to implement the necessary legal and administrative processes to bring this visa into effect. The work and holiday arrangement will not commence until a start date has been agreed by both countries.
Greens' disallowance in the Senate saves Non-Contributory Parent, family and carer visas
The successful passage of a Greens' disallowance motion has overturned the government's attempts to scrap a range of essential, affordable family and carer visas.
"The Senate has voted to keep families living together and looking after each other in Australia," the Greens' immigration spokesperson, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.
"The success of this disallowance motion means that thousands of Australian families will have a chance to reunite with relatives from around the world."
The four 'non-contributory' visas that had been scrapped were the relatively affordable Age Dependent Relative Visa, Remaining Relative Visa, Carer Visa and the Aged Parent Visa.
Applications are now open again in these categories, but may only be available for a short time until the government makes more changes to the legislation. Families should act quickly if they are planning to lodge applications in any of these categories.
Electronic Lodgement of Visitor Visas by Additional Countries
From 1 August 2014, electronic lodgement of the Subclass 600 (Visitor) visa has been extended to 66 additional countries and territories.
The 66 additional countries and territories are: Angola, Anguilla, Armenia, Benin, Bermuda, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, the Cayman Islands, the Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, the Falkland Islands, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Gibraltar, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Montserrat, Mozambique, Namibia, New Zealand, Niger, Nigeria, the Philippines, the Pitcairn Islands, Rwanda, Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, the Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, the Republic of South Sudan, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Togo, Turkmenistan, the Turks and Caicos Islands, Uganda, Uzbekistan, the Virgin Islands, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Changes to SOL and CSOL
The following changes will apply to applications made for the above visas on or after 1 July 2014.
The following occupations will be added to the SOL:
- Chef (Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) 351311)
- Bricklayer (ANZSCO 331111)
- Wall and Floor Tiler (ANZSCO 333411)
Occupations added to the CSOL:
The following occupations will be added to the CSOL:
- Hydrogeologist (ANZSCO 234413)
- Exercise Physiologist (ANZSCO 234915)
Cessation of applications for Other Family and Non-contributory Parent visas
The cessation of new applications under the Other Family and Non-Contributory Parent visas will take place from 30 May 2014.
The visa subclasses affected are:
Parent (subclass 103)
Aged Parent (subclass 804)
Aged Dependent Relative (114)
Remaining Relative (115)
Remaining Relative (835)
Aged Dependent Relative (838)
Reciprocal Work and Holiday Visa for Greece
Minister Morrison has announced the signing of a reciprocal work and holiday visa agreement between Greece and Australia. Each country will eventually grant 500 visas per year.
Both countries are working to implement the necessary legal and administrative processes to allow the visas to come into effect. The one-year work and holiday visa differs from a working holiday visa as it requires applicants to have the support of their government, hold or be studying towards tertiary qualifications and to speak functional English.
Ten year visa ban if guilty of identity fraud
Amendments to the Migration Regulations 1994 (the Regulations), which will take effect from 22 March 2014, seek to prevent identity fraud in Australia’s visa and citizenship programs, by expanding the application of Public Interest Criterion (PIC) 4020 – so that a relevant visa is not granted unless the Minister is satisfied of the identity of the visa applicant.
The proposed changes will amend PIC 4020 to introduce a specific identity requirement into the grant of a visa. The features of the proposed identity requirement are:
- a visa must not be granted unless the Minister is satisfied of the identity of the person; and
- a decision to refuse to grant a visa where the Minister is not satisfied as to the identity of an applicant would not be subject to waiver; and
- a ten year exclusion period for grant of another visa would apply where an applicant is refused a visa under PIC4020 on identity grounds.
BUPA new DIBP provider of health assessment and other services
The Department has announced Bupa as the successful tender applicant for provision of comprehensive health services from 25 May 2014 to 24 May 2017. Bupa will replace Medibank Health Solutions in providing: visa medical examinations and assessments onshore; provision of Fitness to Travel, Fitness to Depart and Carer visa assessments; and Health Status Assessments.
Bupa will also be taking over extra functions currently undertaken by MOC, including: health undertakings administration and assessments; medical opinions on referred offshore medicals; updating costs estimates for client medical conditions; and ensuring currency of Notes of Guidance.
Eligible passports - SmartGate automatic entry extended to Singaporean passport holders.
Access to SmartGate automatic border processing has been extended to Singaporean passport holders adding to the eligibility of Australian, New Zealand, Swiss, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and US citizens aged 16 years and older, who are holders of an ePassport of that nationality, at Australian international airports. Read more about SmartGate - http://www.immi.gov.au/media/fact-sheets/71smartgate.htm
ACT Occupations List update
The 2014 ACT Occupations List has been updated and comes into effect on 24 February 2014. Applications for ACT nomination submitted before 24/02/14 will be assessed against the old August 2013 Occupation List. Occupations verified before 24/02/14 will still have 30 days to lodge the application for ACT nomination.
Employability in the ACT is the main focus when assessing applications for ACT nomination. Applicants must be able to demonstrate there are sufficient employment opportunities in their nominated occupation to meet ACT nomination criteria.
Appointment service to lodge applications in person no longer available
The only appointments DIBP have in place are for post lodgement biometrics for onshore protection applicants and for Citizenship testing.
As many applications are now able to be lodged online, this is the Department’s preferred lodgement channel. Mailing applications or couriering directly to the processing centre is also another option.
The Department also no longer offers over the counter on the spot service transaction for clients who want to lodge in person. Applications presented at DIBP counters will only be accepted and placed in a drop box and forwarded to the relevant business area for processing. Receipts or acknowledgement letters will not be issued at the counters.
A course swap could mean a student visa is cancelled. Be aware of visa condition 8516 for streamlined student visa holders.
Under the streamlined student visa processing arrangements eligible student visa applicants from participating universities are assessed for a visa outside the Assessment Level (AL) Framework and are not subject to the evidentiary requirements of schedule 5A of the Migration Regulations.
Visa condition 8516 requires that ‘The holder must continue to be a person who would satisfy the primary or secondary criteria, as the case requires, for the grant of the visa’. In practice, this means that students who were granted a visa under SVP must continue to maintain enrolment in an SVP eligible course and provider.