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Australian Immigration Update

New Skilled Regional Visas

The new Skilled Employer-Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 494) and Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 491) commence on 16 November 2019.

The Department of Immigration have confirmed the new regional visas will receive priority processing for complete applications. Aspiring migrants will benefit from the help of a Registered Migration Agent who can help ensure your visa application satisfies the statutory requirements for a successful outcome.

New Regional Postcodes

On 26 October 2019, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship announced a change to the definition of Regional Australia. Specific postcodes can be found in Migration (LIN 19/217: Regional Areas) Instrument 2019. All applicants from outside Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane will be able to access regional points for State and Territory Nomination and Family Sponsorship and for regional study purposes.

Visa Application Charges (VAC) for both Skilled Regional Visas

The first instalment VACs were indexed on 1 July 2019 as follows:

  • Base application charge – $4,045.00
  • Additional applicant charge (18+): $2,025.00
  • Additional applicant charge (<18): $1,010.00

New Skilled Regional Visa Secondary Holders

A secondary holder of a new skilled regional visa can live, work and study in a different regional area to the primary visa holder so long as they are still in a designated regional area.

Medicare Eligibility for New Skilled Regional Visa Holders

Supporting legislation for the new skilled regional visas provides that holders of these visas will be eligible for medicare.

Onshore Bridging Visa A (BVA) Work Rights

Work rights will automatically be attached to BVA’s granted to onshore applicants for either of the new regional visas.

International School Fees for Children of Skilled Regional Visa Holders

It will be up to each state/territory government whether international school fees must be paid for the children at primary and high school of holders of the new skilled regional visas.

New Schedule 6D Points

The new schedule 6D points come into effect on 16 November 2019 for all undecided applications and EOIs in SkillSelect. The new points are as follows –

  • 15 points for nomination by a State or Territory government agency or sponsorship by a family member residing in regional Australia, to live and work in regional Australia.
  • 10 points for a skilled spouse or de facto partner.
  • 10 points for certain Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) qualifications;
  • 5 points for a spouse or de facto partner with ‘competent’ English;
  • 10 points for applicants without a spouse or de facto partner.

Partner Points

To be eligible for partner points, applicants must satisfy skills assessments and/or English language requirements at time of invitation. The relevant time of the relationship status is the date of the points test assessment by the decision maker. It is important to note that this means that if the applicants relationship status or the residence status of their partner changes after the date of invitation or the date of application, the award of partner points may also change.

During the processing of any visa application, any inconsistent information regarding the marital/de facto relationship status of the applicant will be provided the opportunity to comment and if there has been a change in relationship status, evidence should be provided to support this change. This will ensure applicants who are married or in a de facto relationship are not able to be awarded points on the basis of claiming to be without a spouse or de facto partner.

Professional Year – Closely Related Occupations

Policy has been updated to provide clarity regarding closely related occupations in the Professional Year. If a Professional Year provided has enrolled an applicant in a PY, the Department will be satisfied that their occupation has been assessed by that provided as being a closely related occupation and no further assessment will be required. The Department will verify completion of any PY course.

Subclass 494 Visa Holders Changing Occupations

If a primary subclass 494 visa holder wishes to engage in work in a different occupation, their current or proposed sponsor must lodge a new nomination and the visa holder must lodge a new visa application on the basis of the nomination. The 494 visa holder cannot work in the new occupation until the new visa is granted.

Annual Market Salary Rate Arrangements

The Annual Market Salary Rate for the 494 program includes guaranteed overtime, penalty rates and annualised rates as per the Temporary Skill Shortage nominations. The same definition of ‘earnings’ in regulation 2.57A applies to 494 nominations.

Labour Market Testing Arrangements

While there are no exemptions from the Labour Market Testing (LMT) requirement for the employer sponsored stream 494 nominations (no occupations are currently specified under the LMT exempt occupations instrument), flexible evidence arrangements still apply for select occupations and positions.

English Language Arrangements

Applicants for the Employer Sponsored stream of the 494 visa at the time of application must have Competent English. A second VAC will apply to all secondary applicants aged 18 and over who do not have Functional English.

Transitional 482 and 457 worker definitions

Legislation for the new regional visas defines transitional 482 worker as a person who on 20 March 2019 either held a TSS visa in the Medium term stream, or was an applicant for a TSS visa in the Medium term stream that was subsequently granted. The cut off date of 20 March 2019 for ‘transitional 482 workers’ was the date the Australian Government made the announcement regarding the closure of the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) visa (subclass 187) and the introduction of the subclass 494 visa.

The definition of a transitional 457 worker has been recently amended for the purposes of a nomination or visa application made for the RSMS under the TRT stream. The definition has been changed to:

‘Transitional 457 worker means a person who held a Subclass 457 (Temporary Work (Skilled)) visa at any time occurring on or after 18 April 2017’. Transitional arrangements do not apply to a secondary TSS holder, whose partner held TSS visa in a MLTSSL occupation and later gets a TSS in their own right in a MTSSL occupation. The definition of ‘transitional 482 worker’ refers to a subclass 482 visa in the Medium-term stream. Only primary visa holders hold a visa in a ‘stream’.

RSMS Transitional Arrangements 

No new RSMS Direct Entry (DE) nomination or visa applications can be lodged from 16 November 2019. RSMS TRT nominations or visa applications will only be able to lodged if the nominee is either –

  • a transitional 457 worker, or
  • a transitional 482 worker.

No end date has been specified for these transitional provisions.

RSMS nominations lodged before 16 November 2019 are taken to be withdrawn on 16 November 2019 where the –

  • nomination has not been approved or refused before 16 November 2019, and
  • the nominee is not a transitional 457 worker or a transitional 482 worker, and
  • the nominee has not lodged a 187 visa application before 16 November 2019.