AUSTRALIA – SKILLED MIGRATION UPDATE

With the new migration program year (2013-2014) starting on 1st July 2013 the Australian Department of Immigration has confirmed that there will be no major change in the planned migration intake.

The Immigration Minister has stated that Australia’s migration program would be maintained at 190,000 places “to help fill skills shortages and reunite Australian families”.

This is likely to see a continued focus on state sponsored migrants in the skilled migration categories

Since the launch of the SkillSelect application system 12 months ago, state sponsored migration has now become a very important component of the migration program.

Indeed from July 2012 to May 2013, nearly 8,000 nominations for permanent residence (visa subclass 190) were made by state / territory governments. The most popular states for nomination were New South Wales, South Australia, Australian Capital Territory and Western Australia.

For the same period, over 18,000 applicants were invited to apply for Independent migration (visa subclass 189) by SkillSelect.

The Pass Marks for both Independent and State Sponsored migration has remained constant at 60 points. State Sponsored migrants can receive 5 or 10 points to reach the required 60 points.

The most popular occupations currently being processed include Accountants, ICT Professionals, Engineers, Nurses and Teachers.

The most popular countries of origin for skilled migrants are;
India, UK, China, Pakistan, the Philippines, Iran, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Ireland, Bangladesh, South Africa, USA.

The SkillSelect system has been able to impose “occupation ceilings” – i.e. to limit the number of invitations that can be issued from an occupation group.

In the migration year, 2012-2013 the following occupation groups reached their “occupation ceiling”;

Chemical and Materials Engineers
ICT Business & System Analysts
Electronic Engineers
Telecommunications Engineering Professionals
Other Engineering Professionals
Software and Application Programmers.

The new migration program on July 1st allows all these occupations to become eligible again.

Also, on July 1st all state / territory governments will release their updated occupation lists for state sponsorship. These lists are crucial for many applicants who do not qualify for Independent migration. State sponsorship is now a major route of entry and this trend is likely to continue.

Another development to take effect on July 1st is a change in the Federal Skilled Occupation list with some occupations now being removed. These are; Hospital Pharmacist, Retail Pharmacist, Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (Avionics), Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (Mechanical), and Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (Structures).

Would you like to migrate to Australia in 2013-2104? What visa subclass is best for you? How does the new migration program affect you?

If you are interested in applying for migration to Australia, then please contact us so that we can check your eligibility.

* Our free Online Assessment Form

* Australia info page with the migration news

Australia – Residence visas for Spouses and Partners

Australia – Residence visas for Spouses and Partners

There are several visa categories that can lead to Australian residence based on a relationship with a partner, married spouse, prospective spouse etc.. The following are some of the main categories of entry;

• Partner Visa: Offshore Temporary and Permanent (Subclasses 309 and 100)

• Prospective Marriage Visa (Subclass 300)

• Partner temporary visa (subclass 820) and permanent visa (subclass 801)

Spouse visa Partner UK

What Relationships can be included ?

Australia permits many different types of relationships to apply under these categories, including;

Married spouses (same sex or opposite sex)

Defacto spouses (i.e. same sex or opposite sex spouses living together but not married)

Prospective spouses – those who intend to marry in Australia.

In all cases, applicants need to show that there is a genuine and continuing relationship. Many applications are delayed for want of sufficient evidence on this point. Regardless of the length of the relationship, this point is crucial.

Defacto spouses

In order to qualify as a Defacto Spouse (either through a same sex or opposite sex relationship), the applicant and sponsor must show the existence of such a relationship for the 12 months period immediately before the application.

Unfortunately, many applicants are rejected on this point by confusing a defacto relationship with cohabitation for 12 months. Applications are frequently submitted with evidence just showing cohabitation for 12 months and then expecting approval. This approach is not likely to receive approval without more evidence.

Cohabitation for 12 months is just one component of proving a defacto relationship. Unless, you can provide sufficient evidence to demonstrate all the components of a defacto relationship, then there is little point in applying.

Australia is generous compared to many other countries (such as the USA) that only recognise married spouses. However, the evidence required for defacto spouses is not something that is viewed lightly. Each application needs to be carefully assessed to ensure the key components are met.

The content of statements from the sponsor and applicant are crucial, as are those from family and friends. We regularly assist applicants to show that all the key components of a defacto relationship are being met.

Who can sponsor ?

Your application must be sponsored by your partner who is an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen.


Your sponsor can live in Australia or outside Australia. If your sponsor lives outside Australia then he / she should be intending to return to live in Australia with you.

Evidence of employment or other sufficient financial resources is often required from the sponsor.

Criminal Convictions

Australia screens all applicants for spouse / partner residence visas as to whether or not they can meet the “character” requirement.
This requires a full declaration of all criminal convictions, regardless of whenever such convictions occurred.

Applicants also need to provide Police Record Checks for every country one has lived in for 12 months or more over the last 10 years since turning 16

Even if you have criminal convictions Australia can still determine that you meet the character requirement. This really depends on the dates of conviction (s) and most importantly the nature of the conviction.

Applicants need to provide detailed written statements and sometimes character references to support any application in which criminal convictions are declared.

In many cases, applicants with criminal convictions can still be referred to the specialist Visa Applicant Character Consideration Unit (VACCU) for more detailed scrutiny.

Annual quotas in these visa categories

Unlike other countries, Australia operates an annual migration programme, which places quotas on the number of visas that can be issued in any particular category (or subclass). Spouse / partner visa subclasses are subject to this annual quota or cap.
Therefore, every year there is a cap on the number of such visas that can be issued. Recently, the numbers of such visas have been reduced, leading to the situation where processing times are increasing for such applicants.Also, remember the Australian visa year runs from 1 July to 30 June, so as the end of the year approaches the number of available visas can be reduced rapidly.

Typically, these applications can take 4 -6 months from submission for a decision to be made. This timeframe may well change in future months. It is crucial therefore to plan ahead if thinking of moving to Australia with your partner.

Including Dependents

Your partner (which can include opposite, same sex, married or unmarried partners) can include their dependent children on their application.
Children usually need to be living with you and dependent on you.

In cases where children have turned 16, it is often necessary to produce additional evidence to show that they are still dependent.

Our service in applying for Australian spouse and partner visas

We have many years experience in securing Australian residence visas, through the spouse and partner subclasses, for our clients.

We can handle the whole application from start to finish. The service includes everything from pre-application advice, document review, completing forms, covering letter, drafting your personal statements, submission to the government and bringing to a successful conclusion. This continues throughout the whole process until your application is approved.

You will only deal with one dedicated immigration adviser to provide you with a focused one to one service.

Our success rate is second to none and we can provide numerous verifiable references from satisfied clients for you to review and inspect. We are immigration consultants based in the UK, assisting applicants all over the world.

At this stage, we just need you to complete this quick registration form on our website;

http://www.commonwealthimmigration.com/assesment_form.html

This should give us all the information we need to give you the correct advice.

We can then review in full and get back to you.



Subscribe to our newsletter to keep up to date on Australian immigration changes


We are sending a newsletter on a periodic basis to update you on new developments and changes in all matters relating to migration.

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OISC, UK visa, immigration services

Commonwealth Immigration Consultants
UK Government Registered Immigration Consultants No. F200100020

Member of the Association of Regulated Immigration Advisers (ARIA)
Affiliate Member of the Australian Institute of Migration

ILPA, Immigration Law Practitioners' Association

ILPA – Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association

 

NEWSLETTER No. 40 – September 2012

NEWSLETTER No. 40 – September 2012

Immigration consultants UKUK – NEW VISA RULES FOR SPOUSES AND PARTNERS

We are now seeing the impact of new rules that have been implemented for those applying for UK visas as spouses, partners and fiancees.

Tougher new financial requirements need to be met, including minimum levels of income or savings. The new rules seem to remove much of the inbuilt flexibility currently in the “maintenance” tests.

Also, the probationary period for those in this category has been increased from 2 to 5 years. Some of the key points include;

introducing a new minimum income threshold of GBP 18,600 for sponsoring the settlement in the UK of a spouse or partner, or fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner of non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationality, with a higher threshold for any children also sponsored; GBP 22,400 for one child and an additional GBP 2,400 for each further child;

much more rigorous assessment to identify genuine and non-genuine relationships

extending the minimum probationary period for settlement for non-EEA spouses and partners from two years to five years, to “test the genuineness of the relationship”

abolishing immediate settlement for the migrant spouses and partner where a couple have been living together overseas for at least 4 years, and requiring them to complete a 5 year probationary period

Summary – Applicants thinking of applying for such visas, need to plan very carefully in advance of submitting an application. In particular, the new financial requirements are very tough.

The documentary evidence to support the new financial requirements are extensive and detailed. The guidance makes it clear that applications can only be approved if the correct documentary evidence in the right format is provided.

* United Kingdom info page with the latest migration news

UK Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)EEA – NEW REGULATIONS AND NEW APPLICATION FORMS

The UK government have introduced new EEA Regulations –which govern the rights of EEA nationals and their families to enter and live in the UK.

Accordingly, new application forms with additional sections have been introduced as well.

The new Regulations set out some detailed changes following some important cases in the European Court of Justice.

There are new rights of residence established for certain categories (such as carers and children).

However, a major restriction seems to be introduced for those who are dual nationals – an EEA citizen and also a UK citizen.

The UK Border Agency are maintaining that EEA rights are not applicable to an EEA national who has never exercised his right of free movement, who has always resided in a Member State of which he is a national and who is also a national of another Member State. We remain to see exactly how this will be enforced but it could impact on many applicants.

Do you need assistance with an EEA application ?

If so, please complete this quick registration form on our website;

* Our free Online Assessment Form

This should give us all the information we need to give you the correct advice. We can then review in full and get back to you.

Focus on UK Citizenship / Naturalisation

We have many years experience in assisting migrants to obtain UK Citizenship, also known as Naturalisation.

There are several different routes to obtaining citizenship, however the normal route is through residence in the UK. In most cases, applicants should already have obtained UK permanent residence or indefinite leave to remain (ILR). The normal qualifying period to obtain ILR is 5 years. However if one is married to a UK citizen, then the qualifying period has been 2 years (this has now been changed for recent applicants).

For those who have obtained ILR through 5 years residence, they are then required to live in the UK for a further 1 year before being eligible to apply for UK citizenship.

Those married to UK citizens can apply for citizenship straightaway after securing ILR, without waiting for a further 1 year. However such applicants do need to have been in the UK for 3 years in total before applying.

EEA applicants for UK citizenship

Citizens of EEA Member States and their family members follow a different path to UK citizenship. Such applicants do not apply for ILR in the UK.

Instead, they can apply for UK permanent residence through EEA law. This, however, is not 100 % mandatory but it can help a citizenship application.

Either way, EEA applicants and their family members need to be living in the UK for 6 years in total. The first 5 years are to be granted permanent residence or to be deemed eligible for permanent residence. Then, the remaining 1 year is required between permanent residence and UK citizenship.

Many EEA applicants have difficulty in proving their UK residence. As visas are not required for such applicants, a large amount of documentation needs to be provided to fully demonstrate the applicant’s residence in the UK.

For each qualifying year, the applicant needs to demonstrate residence in the UK while exercising EU Treaty Rights.

Absences from the UK in the qualifying period

The main residence requirement for citizenship is that the applicant has been living in the UK throughout the qualifying period. All absences from the UK need to be declared in the application. The UK Border Agency will of course disregard short absences for annual leave every year or for business trips.

However, to be sure of satisfying the residence requirements for citizenship, you should not have been absent for more than 90 days in the last 12 months. Additionally the total number of day’s absence for the whole 5 year period should not exceed 450.

If you are married to or in a civil partnership with a UK citizen the total number of day’s absence for the whole 3 year period should not exceed 270.

There is discretion to disregard absences in excess of the limits however such decisions need to be taken by a senior case officer.

The official guidance issued to UK Border Agency case officers clearly states;

“The main purposes of the residence requirements are to allow an applicant to demonstrate close links with, and commitment to, the United Kingdom, and to enable the Home Secretary to assess the strength of that commitment and the applicant’s suitability on other grounds (e.g. character).”

The guidance also states that on reviewing absences the discretion should be considered;

“only when we are satisfied that applicants have genuinely thrown in their lot with the United Kingdom and meet the other requirements.”

Applicants should obtain specialist advice if applying though such discretion on excess absences. A careful presentation on absences and mitigating circumstances would need to be made.

Good Character

In December 2007, the government announced tougher rules relating to any criminal convictions when applying for UK citizenship.

In short, if an applicant has any “unspent convictions” when applying for citizenship the application will normally be refused. Most convictions become “spent” after a set period of time passes. This has proved a major hindrance for many applicants who may only have been convicted of a minor offence.

Please contact us, in strictest confidence, if you wish to see if a criminal conviction is seen as “unspent” and when it can be “spent”.

Also, the UK Border Agency may conduct checks into an applicant’s financial background to see that they pay tax and National Insurance.

All civil proceedings resulting in a court order or any bankruptcy proceedings also need to be declared.

Life in the UK Test

Unless exempt through age or disability, applicants need to sit the Life in the UK Test before applying for UK citizenship. This is available at centres throughout the UK and is designed to test applicants’ knowledge of UK society, history, politics and government.

The test is not seen as particularly onerous – however applicants should take some time to prepare and read the recommended text book on “Life in the UK”.

Recent legislative change on those born abroad to British born mothers

New citizenship rules were introduced in January 2010 to applicants who were born abroad to British born mothers.

These changes, introduced through the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009, mainly affect those born outside the UK to British mothers before 1961. Such individuals can now apply for registration as “British citizens by descent”.

This redresses the anomaly in the system which allowed those born to British born fathers to apply for citizenship but not those born to British born mothers.

These applications can take some time to be processed. Although applied for in the UK, applicants in this category do not have to be resident in the UK or travel to the UK.

Dual citizenship

The UK government does not require you to give up your present citizenship or nationality to become a UK citizen. Under UK law, you are permitted to retain dual nationality and carry a UK passport and the passport of another country.

However, many countries will not let you have dual nationality. If you become a UK citizen and you are also a citizen of a country which does not allow dual nationality, the government of that country may either regard you as having lost that nationality or may refuse to recognise your new nationality.

This is something that many applicants are unaware of and do not check this beforehand. If you are in any doubt before you apply for UK citizenship you should check the position with your country’s Embassy.

Children

There are many different routes for children to apply for registration as UK citizens. This is separate to the usual residence requirements for adults.

Children may be eligible to apply for registration in the following circumstances;

· Children born to a parent who has obtained ILR or permanent residence

· Children born abroad to parents who are British by descent and who are now living in the United Kingdom

· Children born before 1 July 2006 whose father is a British citizen but not married to their mother

· Children adopted abroad by parents who are British citizens

· where it is considered to be in the child’s best interests to be granted British citizenship

Please contact us if you have a child who you wish to be assessed for UK citizenship. The rules relating to children are complex and have been subject to many changes. Different criteria often apply depending on the child’s date of birth and the relevant legislation in force at that time.

Approval of UK Citizenship

Successful applicants for UK citizenship receive a Certificate of Citizenship which then allows them to apply for a UK passport. Citizenship can only be removed in exceptional circumstances where fraud is uncovered in an application.

Of course one of the main benefits to UK citizenship is that the holder is able to live and work freely throughout Europe in accordance with EEA regulations.

Our UK citizenship service

We have many years experience in securing UK citizenship for our clients. The process can be complicated and is not granted easily by the UK government – it does, after all, allow you to “become British” and receive the full protection rights and privileges of a UK passport.

We can handle the whole application from start to finish. The service includes everything from pre-application advice, document review, completing forms, covering letter, drafting your personal statement, submission to the authorities and bringing to a successful conclusion. This continues throughout the whole process until your citizenship is approved.

You will only deal with one dedicated immigration adviser to provide you with a focused one to one service.

Our success rate is second to none and we can provide numerous verifiable references from satisfied clients for you to review and inspect.

At this stage, we just need you to complete this quick registration form on our website;

http://www.commonwealthimmigration.com/assesment_form.html

This should give us all the information we need to give you the correct advice.

Commonwealth ImmigrationKEEP UP TO DATE THROUGH OUR
IMMIGRATION BLOG
– UPDATED FREQUENTLY

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AUSTRALIA – NEW LOWER PASS MARK

Following the launch of the new Skill Select system on 1 July 2012, a reduction in the Skilled Migration Pass Mark from 65 to 60 points has also been announced.

This applies to the following main categories of entry;

Subclass 189 Skilled – Independent (Permanent) (Class SI)

Subclass 190 Skilled – Sponsored (Permanent) (Class SK)

Subclass 489 – Regional Sponsored (Provisional) (Class SP)

Any reduction in the Pass Mark is of course a welcome measure. This will open up the possibility of migrating to Australia for those who previously didn’t qualify.

Applicants still need to be aware that in order to submit an application, they need to pass a skill assessment in their occupation and meet other requirements, such as age, experience and English language ability.

SkillSelect is a radical new selection model for skilled migrants. If you are interested in applying for Australian residence, then please contact us so that we can check your eligibility.

We can advise you on your ability to qualify through the new SkillSelect process.

Our free Online Assessment Form

This should give us all the information we need to give you the correct advice. We can then review in full and get back to you.

* Australia info page with the latest migration news

Teaching Australia Immigration and VisaFREE e-book  TEACHING IN AUSTRALIA

Are you a Teacher looking to work or study in Australia? Then you should visit www.teaching-australia.com 

EEA2 Family Permit UK visasNEW  EUROPEAN ECONOMIC NATIONALS (EEA) 
FREE EEA GUIDE

Please see our dedicated webpage on all EEA applications – EEA Family Permits, Residence Cards, Permanent Residence.

You can also obtain your FREE EEA GUIDE (emailed directly to you) providing detailed information on making applications, supporting documents and specialist advice.

See our EEA webpage at

* EEA info page with free Guide on EEA applications

We hope that this newsletter has been informative for you.  However, remember everyone’s circumstances are different so if you or a friend or family member want to check your eligibility to emigrate then either

1) complete the Online Assessment form on our website www.commonwealthimmigration.com or
2) give us a call on +44 (0) 1223 830 916

We would love to hear from you!

Regards
Tim McMahon
Commonwealth Immigration
www.commonwealthimmigration.com


NEWSLETTER – Subscribe to keep updated!

We are sending a newsletter on a periodic basis to update you on new developments and changes in all matters relating to migration.

Please feel free to forward the newsletter on to your friends and family. Newsletter will be archived on our web site as well.

Subscribe to our newsletter at info@commonwealthimmigration.com 

  UK spouse / partner visas

  Australia spouse / partner visas

  UK Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)
  UK Citizenship / Naturalisation

  Australia Permanent Residence
  Australia State Sponsored visas

OISC, UK visa, immigration services

Commonwealth Immigration Consultants
UK Government Registered Immigration Consultants No. F200100020

Member of the Association of Regulated Immigration Advisers (ARIA)
Affiliate Member of the Australian Institute of Migration

ILPA, Immigration Law Practitioners' Association

ILPA – Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association

NEWSLETTER No. 39 – May 2012

AUSTRALIA – NEW VISA SUBCLASSES

In preparation for the launch of the new system on 1 July 2012, the new visa subclasses that will be available under the SkillSelect Expression of Interest (EOI) have been announced. These are;

Subclass 189 Skilled – Independent (Permanent) (Class SI)

Subclass 190 Skilled – Sponsored (Permanent) (Class SK)

Subclass 489 – Regional Sponsored (Provisional) (Class SP)
Business Skills visa program
You can also express interest in the following visa programs on your EOI to be selected by an employer;
Subclass 186 – Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) (Class EN)
Subclass 187 – Regional Sponsored Scheme (RSMS) (Class RN)
Subclass 457 – Temporary Business (Long Stay) (Class UC)

You can express interest in a range of skilled migration programs in one EOI.

The old visa subclasses of 175, 176 and 475 will be closed for all new applications on 1 July 2012.

SkillSelect is a radical new selection model for skilled migrants. If you are interested in applying for Australian residence, then please contact us so that we can check your eligibility. We can advise you on your ability to qualify through the new SkillSelect process.

Australia info page;

www.commonwealthimmigration.com/australia.htm

UK – TIER 2 VISA CHANGES

The annual limit on the Tier 2 (General) sponsorship certificates was renewed on 6 April 2012 and will remain at the previous level of 20,700 sponsorship certificates per year.

In the previous year, this annual quota was not reached, so we anticipate that employers will still be able to sponsor overseas workers by requesting additional sponsorship certificates if needed.

20,700 will also be the annual limit for the year, starting in April 2013. In April 2014, the UK Home Office plans to introduce a new annual limit.

However, the government plans to increase the skills threshold from 14 June 2012 for Tier 2 (General) visas.

This will result in a reduced number of occupations eligible for Tier 2 sponsorship. In summary, the skills threshold is to be increased from National Qualifications Framework (NQF) level 4 to level 6.

A new shorter list of occupations available for Tier 2 is effective from 14 June 2012.

UK – MAINTENANCE FUNDS CHANGES

Applicant should be aware of a change in maintenance funds for Tier 1 (General) and Tier 2 (General) visa categories from 14 June 2012.

The amount of maintenance funds for applicants and dependents will increase after that date. The following are the new amounts that UK based applicants will need to show in maintenance funds

Tier 1 (General) applicant £900

Tier 1 (General) dependant £600

Tier 2 (General) applicant £900

Tier 2 (General) dependant £600
Remember, this new amount needs to held in a bank account for 3 months, if applying anytime after 14 June 2012. This applies to new applications and extension applications.

Please make sure that you are meeting this maintenance funds requirement well in advance of your application.

UK – BORDER DELAYS AND COMPUTER SYSTEMS CRASHES

The last few weeks have seen much media coverage of lengthy queues at airports as the UK Border Force struggles to handle the numbers of passengers passing through immigration.

The situation has been particularly bad at London Heathrow airport with reports of some passengers taking up to 3 hours to pass through immigration.

The Immigration Minister, Damian Green was forced to make an emergency statement to parliament to explain the delays and reassure the public that the delays would be rectified. Apparently a new rota system will begin in May and the Minister stated that all border control desks would be fully manned during the London Olympic Games, which start on 27 July.

Equally worrying are the major issues the UK Border Agency (UKBA) is experiencing in processing visa applications. Repeated IT problems have been reported through the UKBA website in the last few weeks. Everything came to a head on the first week of May when the foreign national ID card computer system crashed.

This is the key computer system which is used for issuing biometric residence permits to foreign nationals.

This is likely to lead to delays in processing for all applicants as the shutdown and backlog are addressed.

UK info page;

http://www.commonwealthimmigration.com/united_kingdom_uk.htm