Skilled Migration Selection Register (SkillSelect) to Commence in 2012
The present General Skilled Migration (GSM) Program has been in crisis for some time. The Federal Government has finally acted by proposing a radical change to the visa process for skilled migrants from 1 July 2012, through the proposed Skilled Migrant Selection Register to be known as “SkillSelect”.
Present General Skilled Migration system
Under the present system, anyone can apply under the GSM program. Eligibility is assessed by DIAC once a complete application is lodged.
If a visa applicant is eligible for permanent residency, a visa can only be granted if there must be a place under the relevant category of the Australian migration program in that year - as many visa categories have a cap on the number of visas annually. There is presently a large backlog of unprocessed applications as many more visa application are received each year than there are GSM visa places allocated in the Australian migration program. This has resulted in long delays (several years in some cases) for visas to be issued and consequent anxiety and distress for visa applicants.
The proposed SkillSelect system will be a radically change to the current system.
Under the proposed system, any interested person can register an Expression of Interest (EOI) in migrating online, through the SkillSelect portal. The EOI is not a visa application. The applicant can only proceed to lodge a visa application if s/he receives an invitation to apply from SkillSelect. This will affect applicants for independent and family-sponsored skilled migration (Subclasses 175, 176, 885 & 886).
In this way DIAC can limit the number of applications received in any year to the number of visa places available, allowing visas to be processed and issued in a reasonable time and reducing DIAC’s visa processing capacity requirement. It also allows DIAC to select migrants with the skills needed in the Australian economy in any given year.
Expression Of Interest
Applicants would be asked to provide basic information at the EOI stage including identity, qualifications, work experience, English language competency, visa categories of interest and whether the applicant would be prepared to live and work in a regional area. A points test will apply for applicants interested in the independent, family-sponsored and State or Territory Sponsored visas.
No supporting documents would be required at the time of lodging the EOI, so applicant’s details would not be verified at that point. However, applicants would have to have completed a skills assessment and English language testing (if necessary) before lodging the EOI.
It is planned that EOI entries remain in the SkillSelect database until either a visa is granted or two years from lodgement, whichever comes first.
EOI information will need to be kept updated if applicant’s circumstances change.
Regional Skills Shortages
The Federal Government intends to use SkillSelect to address regional skill shortages by allowing applicants to indicate a willingness to live and work in regionalAustraliaat the EOI stage. SkillSelect will be available in addition to the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS – Subclass 121 & 856), Regional Skilled Migration Schemes (Subclass 119 & 857) and for employers sponsoring under Labour Agreements (Subclasses 120 & 855)
It is envisaged that the SkillSelect database will be used by State and Territory governments to fulfill the aims of the State & Territory Migration Plans. This means that the present State or Territory Sponsored visa categories will be affected by the introduction of SkillSelect.
Australian employers faced with skill shortages would also use the database to identify prospective workers, reducing advertising and recruitment costs to business. Employers would need to be approved by DIAC before accessing the SkillSelect database.
Subclass 457 Visa Holders
Subclass 457 visa holders wanting permanent residency status have a choice of lodging an EOI through SkillSelect or applying for an employer-sponsored visa under the ENS or RSMS programs.
Implementation of SkillSelect
The exact details of SkillSelect are still being developed and consultation between DIAC and stakeholders is ongoing. Enabling legislation has not yet been passed. However it is proposed that SkillSelect will be accepting EOIs from 1 July 2012, with invitations to apply to be issued by January 2013.
If you would like information on SkillSelect please contact Mackey Lawyers