On 28 February 2019, Immigration SA has introduced some changes to its general skilled migration nomination policies. These changes are aimed to enhance South Australian immigration by encouraging skilled international graduates to remain and reside in South Australia.
In November 2018, Australia was home to about 690,468 international students which is an 11% increase from 2017. Since November of last year, almost 38,000 international students were enrolled in South Australian universities, education institutions, and schools. Moreover, the last financial year reported that international students generated $1.62 billion for South Austalia. This has positioned international education as one of the South Australia top export earners and has led Immigration SA to focus more efforts on accommodating international students.
Essentially, these changes make it easier for high-performance long-term residents and those with family in South Australia to access SA nomination for 489 visas or 190 visas.
The changes outlined below will take effect immediately from today’s announcement (28 February 2019).
Overview of Changes
The Immigration SA press release outlines three changes that will offer more opportunity for a nomination, with graduates of South Australia’s educational institutions particularly benefiting.
The changes include:
1.) Rewarding international students that have been long-term residents of South Australia
- Available for students who have continuously resided in South Australia since at least March 2012
2.) A broadening of the high performing graduate category for South Australian graduates
- A grade point average of 5.2 and above but below 6.0 (being the existing standard) will allow an opportunity for a provisional visa pathway.
- Removal of the work experience requirement
3.) Removal of the minimum bachelor’s degree requirement under the Chain Migration category
- An opening of trade-level occupations
Detailed List of Changes
1) Rewarding International Students That Are Long-Term Residents of South Australia
Starting 28 February 2019, Immigration SA will offer state nomination for the Provisional 489 visa to any applicant who:
- Is a current or former international student residing in South Australia; AND
- Has resided continually in South Australia since March 2012 or earlier and continues to reside in South Australia; AND
- working in South Australia in any occupation (does not have to be at a skilled level) for at least the last 3 months (minimum of 40 hours per fortnight); OR
- studying a course with a minimum duration of one academic year in South Australia.
- This policy is being introduced as a pilot initially. Immigration SA reserves the right to change its nomination requirements, whilst Commonwealth requirements may also change.
- Applicants will need to show evidence that they have remained in South Australia continuously since March 2012. This includes confirmation of the various courses enrolled in, visa subclasses held and residency over time.
- Applicants who have lived, studied or worked in another Australian jurisdiction for any period of time since 2012 will not be eligible. Verification checks will apply.
- Short visits home or holidays will not break the SA residency requirement, provided that evidence of a continued connection to South Australia is provided (i.e. continued enrolment and/or employment and relevant visa held).
- To be considered a former international graduate of South Australia, you must have completed a CRICOS registered course with a minimum duration of 46 weeks.
- If currently studying, this course must also be CRICOS registered for a minimum of 46 weeks.
- The applicant must meet all other state nomination and Department of Home Affairs’ requirements. As per any application for state nomination, a valid Skills Assessment and English language test result is required. For the latter, only the minimum Department of Home Affairs requirement of ‘Competent’ English is necessary (unless a higher level is required for registration purposes - see 6.5 and 9.10).
2) Broadening of The High Performing Graduate Category For South Australian Graduates
Immigration SA is making it easier for talented international graduates of South Australian public universities (in the last two years) to qualify for state nomination through the "high performing graduate" category.
- access to a more extensive list of occupations on either the State Nominated Occupation List or the Supplementary Skilled List.
- waivers to Immigration SA’s work experience and English language requirements.
For other students who have performed very well in their studies, but not to a GPA of 6.0 and above, Immigration SA will offer Provisional visa nomination (subclass 489) to those scoring a GPA of 5.20 to 5.99. This will allow these students to spend longer in South Australia than via other temporary pathways available, giving them more time to establish their careers.
This expansion is most relevant to those students completing courses where an occupational skills assessment is possible immediately upon course completion, such as engineering and accounting/business degrees.
Prior to this change students who had completed their degree at an Australian institution would need to apply for a 485 Graduate Visa in order to gain work experience that would enable them to finally apply for the 190 Nominated (Permanent) Visa. Now, for occupations such as engineering and accounting, applicants will be able to apply for the 190 Nominated Visa once they have completed their studies and if they fulfill the points requirements.
- To access this waiver, the applicant must have completed their South Australia degree within the last two years and continued to live in South Australia since then.
3.) Removal of Minimum Bachelor’s Degree Requirement Under Chain Migration
Chain migration is a state nomination pathway providing access to a broader list of occupations. This pathway is for skilled workers who meet all skilled nomination requirements and have an immediate family member permanently residing in South Australia.
Since its introduction in July 2014, chain migration has allowed many migrants a pathway to join their family members in living South Australia.
For applicants with an eligible family member already residing in South Australia, the chain migration pathway offers access to occupations on the Supplementary Skilled List, but since its introduction, this required a minimum bachelor’s degree or higher.
This bachelor’s degree requirement has now been removed, meaning access to a range of trade occupations that are not on the State Nominated Occupation List is now possible for those with eligible family in South Australia.
The chain migration pathway continues to offer access to a provisional visa, not a permanent visa.
- The chain migration pathway continues to offer access to a provisional visa, not a permanent visa.
- It remains important that chain migration applicants carefully consider their likelihood of achieving skilled employment in their nominated occupation or any other occupation when making the decision to migrate, as they are being nominated primarily based on their close family links. We expect that the existing family member will be on hand to provide considerable settlement support as required.
Comments From Chris Johnston
What's So Special About The Changes?
When it comes to enhancing South Australian immigration, we are always happy to see any improvements made. These changes are especially welcomed as they lead to SA being more attractive to international students and intern grows/retains the international student population. The changes will ensure that both vocational and university students have the ability to benefit which will also attract more students to study in South Australia. Over time the changes will create a large sustainable boost to our work force and economy. Moreover, this strategy of providing a pathway to long-term residents is unique, as no other state has done this before.
About The Criteria
While these changes allow for a streamlined approach, there are still requirements the applicant must fulfil before applying. For example, it is important to remember that the long-term resident applicants still have to achieve a positive skills assessment.
One of the most beneficial ways we believe you should view this visa, is to simply review the criteria and create a checklist of what requirements you have and have not completed. Since the criteria is now more broad, there may be more opportunities available and less criteria to complete. Once you understand what requirements you are missing you can work towards completing your application. Ask yourself, “based on my fulfilled requirements, what am I eligible to do?”
All in All
Long term implementation is evidence of strong incentives in rewarding long term residents and graduate students. This not only encourages more international student to study in SA going forward but rewards migrants if they choose to stay in South Australia. When SA receives more students and migrants choose to stay, the SA economy boosts. While there are still requirements applicants must fulfil, the requirements are curated for long-term SA residents to be able to meet. While there is no guarantee of permanent residency, there is a now more opportunity in South Australia with the addition of these state nomination updates.
Do You Need Help With An Australian Visa Application?
At Work Visa Lawyers our team of Migration Agents and Immigration Lawyers are experienced in assisting applicants in all matters relating to Australian visa applications, including state sponsorship applications. Our areas of expertise include Skilled Migration visas, Business Skills Migration visas, Employer-Sponsored Work Visas, Partner, and other Family Migration visas as well as Migration Review Tribunal, Judicial Review and Ministerial Intervention.
If you require further information regarding your Australia visa options you can contact us through:
(08) 8351 9956