Higher English requirements for Employer Sponsored PR applications from 1 July 2012 …

On 9 March DIAC announced there will be changes to the permanent employer sponsored program to be implemented from the 1 July 2012.  

The reforms will reduce the number of visa classes in the Permanent Employer-Sponsored Visa Program from six to two.

The two new consolidated subclasses will be:

  • ENS subclass 186
  • RSMS subclass 187

Within each subclass there will be three streams:

  1. Temporary Residence Transition Stream – for qualifying 457 visa holders.
  2. Direct Entry Stream – for a range of applicants including non-qualifying 457 visa holders, those completing studies on student visas and offshore applicants.
  3. Agreement stream – replacing labour agreements.

In the process, there are changes to the age, English and Skills requirements for ENS and RSMS.

The 457, a common temporary working visa, will become more integrated into the Permanent Employer-Sponsored Visa Program.

Those most likely to be negatively affected by the changes may include:

  •  Higher English requirements for RSMS may make it harder to apply for some:
    • For RSMS Temporary Residence Transition Stream the English language requirements will be 5.0 in each of the four components of IELTS test.  Current RSMS requirements are IELTS band score 4.5.
    • For RSMS Direct Entry Stream the English language requirements will be 6.0 in each of the four components of IELTS test.  Current RSMS requirements are IELTS band score 4.5.
  • Skills assessments required for RSMS applicants with overseas trade level qualifications or experience.
  • May be more difficult for those that are over 50:
    • With the age limit for RSMS and ENS being raised to 50, there may also be less flexibility for persons over 50.
  • Skill level four no longer available under 457 and direct stream for RSMS:
    • Skill level four, such as Mobile Plant Operators and Drillers will not be able to apply for RSMS anymore. They will only be able to be able to apply through the Agreements stream.  Agreements can take a long time to arrange and are usually for large employers.  Currently such skill level four, can apply under exceptional circumstances of RSMSM

If you qualify under the current RSMS requirements for skills, age and English, then you may want to consider applying for an RSMS before 1 July 2012.

Those most likely to be positively affected by the changes may include:

  • Current 457 holders may benefit – changes establishing a Streamlined pathway from 457 temporary working visas to RSMS and ENS permanent work visas
  • Age limit has been raised to 50, was previously 45.  So all those 46 year olds, you are in luck.

Applicants and employers that qualify after the 1 July 2012 may both benefit, in that there will be less need to duplicate work, for both 457 and RSMS:

  • The streamlined Temporary Residency (457) will require less employer documents when an RSMS is applied for.
  • The Regional Certifying Bodies role will be narrower, being confined to certifying there is a genuine need for the positions and establishing that a ‘market rate’ salary is being paid.

Another significant change, will be that for the Temporary Residence Transition Scheme (457 to RSMS or ENS), the 457 concept of salaries at ‘Market Rate’ will be applied.

There are large questions still unanswered at the moment including:

  • The current relatively flexible exceptional circumstances are being replaced by ‘exemptions’.   I am sure many current 457 holders will be hoping for exemptions in relation to English language requirements.  What will the exemptions be?
  • The streamlined Temporary Residency (457) stream can be accessed by “457 visa holders who have worked for their employer for the last two years”. But what about 457 holders that have worked for two years, witth two or more different employers?  Will they qualify for the Temporary Residence Transition Scheme?
  • How will the changes interact with the changes to General Skilled Migration through the Skill Select and Expression of Interest system?

WATCH THIS SPACE – I will provide more details on changes for Permanent Employer Sponsored Visas when they become available.

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