On 9 March 2012, The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) announced reforms to the ‘Permanent Employer-sponsored’ (PES) visa program to commence on 1 July 2012.
To avoid being overly technical, in 2011 DIAC was tasked to look at ways of reforming the Employer Nominated Scheme (ENS)/Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) and has come back with changes to coincide with the Skill Select changes to the General Skilled Migration (GSM) program –of which it is a part- set to commence on the 1 July 2012.
The main changes are as follows:
- Introducing two new visa subclasses (ENS 186 and RSMS 187 – no longer on or off-shore versions) to replace the existing six visa subclasses (856, 121, 857, 119, 855, 120) – to simplify the administration of the ‘employer- sponsored’ visa program;
- Increasing the age limit to ‘less than 50 years’ – (currently less than 45);
- Introducing 3 slightly different streams to PSE including a Direct Entry stream (Positive skill assessment + 3 years experience or executive salary of $250,000), a Temporary Residence Transition stream (including 2 pathways) for eligible 457 visa holders (for those who have been working on 457 visas for at least 2 of the last 3 years in the same occupation) and the Agreement stream (labour agreement or RMA arrangements);
- Changing the English language (IELTS 5 in all 4 modules) and IELTS 6 for Direct Entry;
- Reducing the current 3 year work commitment to 2 years;
- no longer on-shore and off-shore applications so that location at lodgment is now no longer relevant;
- Replacing the 3 existing occupations-in-shortage lists (457, StatSOL and ENSOL) into ‘one’ single consolidated skilled occupation list (CSOL);
- Removing the existing ‘Exceptional Circumstances’ waivers for age, English and skills and replacing them with the more restrictive/objective ‘Exemption’ provisions;
- Market salary rate is to replace the existing Minimum Salary Level requirement, bringing it in line with the 457 visa program- currently $49330;
- Training requirement is also to be brought in line with the 457 visa program benchmarks (A & B);
- Introduction of E-lodgement.
It is important to note that these changes have only just been released so it’s difficult to consider the full effect until the final changes come into play on the 1 July 2012. But it is possible on the face of the changes to make some suggestions in light of these changes.
6 Things to consider
- Change to 457 visa as soon as possible if you do not have the tertiary qualifications because Sub-class 418, 421, 442, 428, 444 (NZ), and 461 visa holders will not be able to access the 2 year pathway after 1 July 2012 but will have to take the Direct Entry pathway , which requires a formal skill assessment and experience;
- 457 holders should refrain from changing employers, roles or occupation (if possible) to enable the 2 year qualification to be met. Also important to note that condition 8107 precludes a 457 holder from undertaking tasks which are inconsistent with their nominated position. A breach of this visa condition will potentially lead to visa cancellation. This may come to the attention of DIAC when you lodge your PES application. A person who has a visa cancelled will not be permitted to apply for an onshore application;
- Non-English speakers – improve your English and apply via the 457 Stream, as only IELTS 5 is required;
- For those persons who will not meet the age and English exemption requirements – you must lodge your ENS applications prior to 1 July 2012 seeking the relevant waivers under exceptional circumstances. It is important to present valid arguments why exceptional circumstances exist;
- Applicants over 45 and under 50 will no longer need to claim exceptional circumstances waiver;
- RSMS continues to be slightly easier than ENS as long as the new ‘exemptions’ are not too restrictive: See blog post ‘Exceptional circumstances versus Exemptions‘;
To find out more about these changes and how they might affect you- as there are winners and losers as usual when the department changes the rules – then please get in touch or comment below.