NEWSLETTER No. 35 – June 2011

AUSTRALIA – THE NEW POINTS SYSTEM HAS ARRIVED

Recently, major new changes to the Australian points system have been introduced and will be effective on 1st July 2011. The changes DO NOT affect those who have already applied.

These changes introduce a new method of calculating points, a new Pass Mark and other different criteria.

Perhaps the biggest change is that the previous system of awarding points according to your occupation (i.e. 60, 50 or 40 points) has now been removed. Now, all occupations on the Skilled Occupation List are on an equal footing with no points awarded for occupation. However, as a basic entry requirement – an applicant must have a skills assessment and relevant experience in an occupation on the list.

The points for age have been changed with different age brackets introduced. The upper age threshold has now been increased from 45 to 50 years.

More points are available for English language with a distinction between “Proficient” and “Superior” English language ability.

For the first time – points are awarded for qualifications – such as a degree, diploma or trade qualifications.

Work experience points are now more important than under the previous system. Points are awarded for Australian and overseas work experience of up to 8 years.

Points are still awarded for state sponsorship, partner skills, Australian study etc…

A new Pass Mark has been set at 65 points – but obviously no direct comparison can be made with the old Pass Mark of 120 points, as the new points system is completely different.

These changes reflect the most radical development in skilled migration to Australia for many years. The new system will obviously produce winners and losers.

It will be vital to undertake a proper eligibility assessment for each applicant. If you are interested in moving to Australia, then please complete the Online Assessment form on our website so we can see if you qualify on the new system.

UNITED KINGDOM – “SETTLEMENT LINK” TO BE SCRAPPED?

A major new consultation has been launched by the Immigration Minister, the content of which makes disturbing reading for many migrants in the UK.

The main proposal is to break the link between temporary migration and permanent migration (i.e. settlement). Migrants in the UK on a work permit or Tier 2 visa can currently apply for UK settlement after 5 years. The government proposes that this shall be removed and that it shall allow only the “brightest and best workers to stay permanently”.

This would involve re-categorising work permits and Tier 2 visas as “temporary” visas. The proposals also suggest that high earners or those in shortage occupations would be able to retain a right to settlement.

This would involve a system where some Tier 2 visa holders could stay and others would not be able to do so. Tier 2 visa holders that do not have a right to settlement would only be allowed to stay for a maximum period of 5 years.

It is important to remember that these proposals are only part of a consultation at this stage. It is also likely that the government would not be able to introduce these changes to migrants who have already been in the UK accruing time towards settlement on a work permit / Tier 2 visa.

Nonetheless, the proposals are very specific and do reflect current government thinking – breaking the link between “temporary” and “permanent” migration was a key Conservative policy pledge in the last General Election. As we have seen since the General Election, Liberal Democrat influence on government immigration policy is minimal.

The consultation closes on 9 September 2011. We will of course keep you informed on any changes through our newsletter.

NEW 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.

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* EEA info page with free Guide on EEA applications

NEWSLETTER No. 34 – April 2011

UNITED KINGDOM – CHANGES TO SETTLEMENT AND OTHER VISAS

The UK government have announced a number of changes to UK immigration over a range of categories.

Perhaps the most important change relates to applications for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or settlement. Such applications will now be points tested for those in the UK on HSMP visas, Tier 1 General visas or other points tested visa categories such as Investors or Entrepreneurs.

Previously, such applications were relatively straightforward after accruing the necessary 5 years in the appropriate category. This has now changed and applicants need to ensure they can score enough points to obtain ILR.

Points are again awarded for factors such as age, qualifications and earnings. Applicants now need to ensure they plan an application well in advance to ensure they can score the necessary points through earnings etc.

The following are some of the other key changes;

The Post Study Work visa will be abolished after April 2012.

The Worker Registration Scheme for citizens of countries that joined the EU in 2004 will be closed and all such work restrictions will finish.

The Certificate of Approval scheme (which requires non EEA nationals to obtain permission before being allowed to marry in the UK) is to be abolished in May 2011.

New rules to encourage Investors and Entrepreneurs to move to the UK have been introduced.

CANADA – IMMIGRATION CHANGES?

The Canadian government have launched a new consultation on changes to the Federal Skilled Worker Program.

The points for age and English language ability are marked out as areas that could be changed – i.e. giving more points for younger applicants and those who speak advanced English.

The main areas of consultation include;

• requiring federal skilled workers to have a minimum level of language proficiency;

• making the program more accessible to skilled tradespeople, technicians and apprentices;

• placing greater emphasis on younger immigrants who will adapt more easily and be active members of the work force for a longer time frame;

• redirecting points from work experience to other factors that better contribute to success in the Canadian work force; and

• reducing the potential for fraudulent job offers.

Are you interested in moving to Canada? Please visit our website

AUSTRALIA – NEW POINTS SYSTEM IN JULY

Effective from July 1st 2011, a new points system will be introduced for general skilled migration to Australia.

The final details of the new points system have yet to be announced but we understand the following will be some of the key changes;

Increased points for “superior” level English

Removing the points difference for various occupations on the Skilled Occupations List so that all occupations are rated equally.

Changing the points brackets for age and increasing the upper age limit from 45 to 50 years

The new system will not apply to those whose applications have already been submitted.

As in line with previous years we expect an announcement at some time in May on the exact details of the new system.

NEWSLETTER No. 33 – February 2011

UNITED KINGDOM – RECENT CHANGES

Since the Coalition government came to office last year, a number of key changes have taken place in UK immigration, in an effort to reduce the overall levels of migration.

Employers and applicants need to be aware of these changes and their potential impact. The following are some of the most recent developments;

Tier 2 (General) visas
Feb 2011 – The Migration Advisory Committee has recently published their report into the list of occupations that are eligible for Tier 2 (General) visas – i.e. work visas sponsored by an employer. This has resulted in the threshold level being increased from National Qualification Framework level 3 to graduate degree level.

Consequently, many occupations are no longer eligible for the Tier 2 (General) visa. This doesn’t affect normal graduate level recruitment (or skilled occupations requiring a higher degree or extensive experience).

However, employers need to be sure that the position they are offering matches an occupation on the revised list. Some occupations that will no longer eligible for Tier 2 (General) visas under this proposal include Retail Managers, Laboratory Technicians, Science and Engineering Technicians.

Student visas / Post Study Work visas
Jan 2011 – A major new consultation has just been finalised on reforming the student visa system. Several new proposals are included as part of the consultation including stricter entrance requirements and limitations on in-country student visa extensions.

Most importantly, the 2 year Post Study Work visa is earmarked for abolition. This is the work visa, that many graduates obtain, allowing them to work in the UK and then switch to a Tier 1 or Tier 2 work visa.

Tier 1 (General) visas

Most recently in December 2010, the UK Border Agency announced that the Tier 1 (General) visa category is closed to overseas applicants. This category will also be closed to UK based applicants after April 2011.

“UK based applicants” include those living and working in the UK on a substantive visa – such as a work permit, Tier 2 visa or Post Study Work visa.

These changes should NOT affect those who have already secured a Tier 1 (General) visa and wish to apply for an extension in the UK. This should still be possible, as normal.

We advise anyone interested in applying for a Tier 1 (General) visa in the UK, to look at starting this process immediately, before this category is closed in April.

For advice on applying for UK visas or citizenship, Tier 1 extension after April 2011 or similar, then please contact us

CANADA – OCCUPATION QUOTAS BEING REACHED

Intending applicants under the Federal Skilled Worker category should be aware that there is an overall limit of 20,000 places in the year which commenced on 26 June 2010.
There is also an annual limit of 1,000 places per eligible occupation.

This has lead to the limit being already reached in 2 occupations;

1. Registered Nurses

2. Professional Occupations in Business Services to Management

Therefore, no more applications can be accepted for such occupations until after June 2011. The limit is also close to being reached in many other occupations.

However, these limits do not apply to applicants who have an approved offer of “arranged employment” or are nominated by a Provincial government.

If you are interested in moving to Canada, then please contact us through our website

AUSTRALIA – STATE MIGRATION PLANS OPEN

All states / territories in Australia are now looking to attract migrants through their State Migration Plans.

This allows states to select migrants according to state specific occupation lists – i.e. what occupations are in acute shortage in that state. State sponsored migrants are processed as priority applicants, so this is a preferred option for many migrants.

States such as Western Australia and South Australia have long lists of occupations that they will consider for sponsorship. Other states such as Queensland and New South Wales are more specific – often targeting specific industry sectors that they want to develop.

It is important for migrants to remember that your occupation is not the sole factor in obtaining approval under a State Migration Plan. English language ability, available financial resources and employment research are additional factors that many states see as vital.

Furthermore, some occupations are subject to a quota. For instance, the state of Victoria has recently stopped accepting applications for ICT occupations, having received the limit of places under the annual quota for such occupations.

State Migration Plans are an increasingly important part of migration to Australia. The criteria varies from state to state and is often subjective – how can the applicant show he / she will settle successfully in that state.

Applicants intending to apply for residency through State sponsorship need specialist advice in making an application and demonstrating their suitability to that State.

NEWSLETTER No. 32 – December 2010

UK – TIER 1 GENERAL VISAS TO BE ABOLISHED
(TIER 1 EXTENSION AFTER APRIL 2011)

The UK Border Agency have announced that the Tier 1 General visa category will be abolished after April 2011.

This will apply to new first-time applicants both in the UK and applying from overseas.

This will NOT affect those who have already secured a Tier 1 General visa and wish to apply for an extension in the UK. This will still be possible, as normal.

However, this is a major policy change which will greatly affect the plans of many applicants. Already the number of overseas applicants for Tier 1 (General) visas is starting to impact on processing times.

UK based extension applications will need to be prepared thoroughly, as a refusal will mean the applicant will not have the current option to re-apply as a new applicant.

We advise anyone interested in applying for a Tier 1 (General) visa either in the UK or overseas, to look at starting this process immediately, before this category is closed.

For advice on applying for UK visas or citizenship, then please visit our website

UK – ANNUAL QUOTA AND NEW VISA CATEGORY

Following the long awaited report published by the Migration Advisory Committee, the Home Secretary has announced details of the new migration “cap” or quota for non EU workers.

From April 2011 – April 2012, the Tier 2 General visa category will be subject to annual limit of 20,700. This is a reduction of 6,300 comapred to 2009 levels. However, there are many applicants that are NOT subject to the cap. These include;

– Tier 2 Dependents
– Those already in the UK on a Tier 2 visa or work permit
– Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer applicants
– New applicants with an offered salary of over £150,000

It is already clear that the government are providing many exceptions to their plans to cap migration levels.

The Tier 1 General visa category will be abolished for new applicants and will be replaced by a new category for “persons of exceptional talent”. We await the publication of further details on this.

This is a major change in migration policy and makes the UK a much less attractive destination for migrants who do not wish to be “tied” to a sponsoring employer.

More positively, the government have stated they will be looking to reform the Tier 1 Entrepreneur route to make it more attractive. This will include more flexible criteria than the current rigid £200,000 requirement. Again, we will provide more details on this once published.

AUSTRALIA – APPLY NOW IF YOU QUALIFY!

As detailed in our last newsletter, the Australian government have announced that a new points system will be effective for all applicants from 1 July 2011.

Although many aspects of the proposed new system will be welcome, we are already seeing that some applicants will be disadvantaged by the new system and may well be ineligible on the proposed new points system.

In order to apply through the current system, applicants need to pass their trade assessment or skills assessment and ensure their migration application is submitted by 30 June 2011.

Bearing in mind, that many trade assessments or skills assessments can take several months to process, we urgently advise applicants to look at starting this process now if they qualify.

To be assessed for migration to Australia, please complete the online assessment form on our website

NEW 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