NEWSLETTER No. 31 – November 2010

AUSTRALIA – NEW POINTS SYSTEM

The new Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen has released details of the new points system for Skilled Migration, which is due to take effect in July 2011.

The proposed new system is very different from the current system with a new points scale and different criteria. The new system will no longer see occupations given a different points score. Instead experience in an occupation on the Skilled Occupations List will be one of the general entry requirements.

One positive change is that the upper age limit will be increased from 45 to 50 years.

Changes are also being proposed in other factors such as the points awarded for English language, qualifications, state sponsorship and family sponsorship.

The new system still has to be approved by Parliament and given the slim majority that the current government has, this may see more changes to ensure it is approved.

It is important to remember that the new system will NOT apply to applications that have already been lodged or that will be lodged before July 2011.

However, this is a major change in Australian immigration. The new system will inevitably leave some applicants ineligible, so if you are interested in moving to Australia it would be advisable to look at applying now before it’s too late.

To be assessed for migration to Australia, please complete the Online Assessment Form on our website

AUSTRALIA – STATE MIGRATION PLANS

After a long wait, we are now finally seeing some State Migration Plans being approved by the Immigration Minister.

These State Migration Plans (SMPs) allow State governments in Australia to select migrants with the desired skills required by that State.

At the time of writing, SMPs for Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory have been launched.

We expect SMPs for all States to be approved and open for applications soon.

Each State will assess applications for State sponsorship using different criteria. Most importantly, each State will publish a unique list of occupations in demand 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.

UNITED KINGDOM – CITIZENSHIP ANNOUNCEMENT AND TIER 1 VISA PROCESSING

The current UK government have announced that the previous Labour government’s proposal of “earned citizenship” is to be dropped.

This idea would have seen many applicants having to wait longer before being eligible to apply for citizenship. It also contained proposals that applicants would have to undertake voluntary work to apply for citizenship and introduced a concept of “probationary citizenship”.

This announcement will come as a relief to many applicants who have been waiting to see if their pathway to citizenship would become more difficult.

Meanwhile we await with interest the government’s proposals on the immigration cap or quota. The Migration Advisory Committee is due to report soon to the government on the level for 2011/12 of the annual limits on economic migration to the UK under Tier 1 and Tier 2 of the points-based system.

Already the number of overseas applicants for Tier 1 (General) visas is starting to impact on processing times. We advise anyone interested in applying for a Tier 1 (General) visa to look at starting this process as soon as possible, before the new immigration cap is launched in April.

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

CANADA – 2011 IMMIGRATION PLAN ANNOUNCED

The Canadian government have announced details of their immigration plan for 2011.

This will see between 240,000 and 265,000 new immigrants arrive in Canada next year, with 65% of those through the economic stream. This is good news for migrants at a time when other countries (most notably the UK) are seeking to cap or restrict numbers.

There will also be an increase in places in the immigration programme for spouses and children of citizens and permanent residents.

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

EUROPEAN ECONOMIC NATIONALS (EEA) AND FAMILY MEMBERS

We have many years experience in handling applications for UK visas and permits on behalf of EEA nationals and their families (especially non EEA family members).

We submit applications in the UK and at British Embassies and High Commissions all over the world.

This includes applications for EEA Family Permits, EEA Residence Cards, EEA permanent residence and EEA registration certificates.

If you are interested in EEA applications, then please contact us

NEWSLETTER No. 30 – September 2010

UNITED KINGDOM – ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEST FOR PARTNERS

The UK government have announced English language tests for partners / spouses will be introduced from 29 November 2010.

The introduction of such a test was announced following the new government’s election to office.

From this date, any migrant who wants to enter or remain in the UK as the partner of a British citizen or a person settled here will need to show that they can speak and understand English, by taking an English language test. The test will be with one of the approved test providers – such as IELTS, TOEFL etc….

The new rules will apply to anyone applying as the husband, wife, civil partner, unmarried partner, same-sex partner, fiance(e) or proposed civil partner of a British citizen or a person settled in this country. They will be compulsory for people applying from within the UK as well as visa applicants from overseas.

Some applicants will be exempt – such as those from “majority English language countries” – this will include those countries designated as such for the Tier 1 and Tier 2 visa categories.

Applicants should be aware of the introduction of the test if looking to apply after 29th November.

UNITED KINGDOM – FUTURE IMMIGRATION POLICY

The UK Immigration Minister Damian Green has made a major policy speech on immigration. The speech seems to be aimed at an overall tightening of the immigration system with particular emphasis on student numbers.

The Minister queries the legacy of the previous government’s immigration policy and asks strong questions on students remaining in the UK for lengthy periods, the effectiveness of skilled immigration and the proposals for an immigration cap.

Obviously the current government are only at the start of their 5 year term so policy announcements such as this are common at this time. We will closely monitor and report on immigration changes as they are unveiled.

UNITED KINGDOM – CERTIFICATE OF APPROVAL TO MARRY

The government have announced their intention to abolish the “Certificate of Approval to Marry” scheme.

This is the process where non UK / EU citizens need to apply for permission to marry in the UK. The Certificate of Approval scheme has been controversial since its introduction a few years back and has been subjected to much scrutiny by the courts.

The government are stating that the;

“scheme is incompatible with Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and changes made following rulings from the courts have weakened the scheme, and it is no longer an effective method of preventing sham marriage”.

Although the scheme is still in operation, it will be abolished in 2011, depending on how quickly it can be removed through Parliament.

This is a positive development in removing a simplistic and discriminatory piece of legislation which caused more problems than it solved.

AUSTRALIA – NURSING UPDATE

The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) has revised its frequently asked questions (FAQ) and explanatory notes on English Language requirements.

The new version dated 17 August, means that applicants who have completed secondary schooling and a nursing or midwifery qualification in English are now only required to provide evidence of their English language education. They are no longer required to sit the English language test (IELTS) and achieve a score of 7.

This is a significant policy change that will be welcome news to many applications applying for registration.

HOWEVER – it is important to remember that the NMBA only deal with registration for Nurses who are able to work in Australia – i.e. have a work or residence visa etc… Most overseas applicants will still need to go through the assessment process with the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Council (ANMC) to apply for residence. The ANMC still retains the IELTS test as a compulsory requirement for ALL nurses.

If you are a Nurse looking to move to Australia then contact us through our website for specialist advice.

NEWSLETTER No. 29 – July 2010

UNITED KINGDOM – IMMIGRATION QUOTA INTRODUCED

The UK government have announced that they are pressing ahead with plans to implement a cap or quota on all non-EU economic migrants. This was predicted in our previous newsletter.

This is likely to affect all applications for Tier 1 and Tier 2 visas.

A permanent cap is set to be introduced from April 2011. In the meantime, a temporary cap is to be imposed which will see overall numbers between now and April 2011, reduced by 5 %.

The criteria for Tier 1 visas (Highly Skilled workers) has been tightened from July 19th by increasing the points threshold by 5 points.

We therefore advise all applicants and employers to look at applying for such visas, as soon as possible. The announcement of a cap is unprecedented in UK immigration and is likely to lead to an increase in applications.

This may then lead to visas being unavailable until the new visa year commences in April 2011. The new criteria effective from April 2011 may well see further restrictions to ensure an immigration cap is effective.

A review by the Migration Advisory Committee has been launched into the permanent cap. There are a broad range of proposals on how the government should implement a cap and also what the final quota numbers should be.

If you wish to go ahead with a Tier 1 or Tier 2 application, then please contact us so that we can assess your eligibility

 

AUSTRALIA – NEW DEVELOPMENTS

At a recent meeting at Australia House, London we received some information on future plans for the introduction of State Migration Plans (SMPs).

SMPs are crucial for many migrants to Australia as they specify which states will sponsor which occupations. This is now a vitally important route for many migrants.

It seems the first SMPs will be published by September and hopefully implemented soon afterwards. All SMPs need to be fully approved by the Federal government before being launched. It is thought that many SMPs will follow the previous state sponsorship occupations.

Furthermore, the Australian Department of Immigration are introducing a new system for occupational coding.

The new system is called the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO). This replaces the previous ASCO coding system and is being introduced as the new standard to capture occupation information in all visa, settlement and citizenship programs.

ANZSCO will also be used within skilled visa programs, where it is a requirement for visa eligibility, as the standard by which a visa applicant’s skills to undertake a specific occupation in Australia are assessed.

CANADA – IMPORTANT CHANGES FOR SKILLED WORKERS AND INVESTORS

The Canada government has now announced some changes in processing for federal skilled worker applicants.

The new rules mean that applicants must either have a job offer, or they must have experience in one of 29 in-demand occupations. This is a new list of occupations which is a shortened version of the previous list.

For those applying under the occupation list, the government will limit the number of applications considered for processing to 20,000 per year. Furthermore, within the 20,000 limit, a maximum of 1,000 applications per occupation will be considered. The limit does not apply to applicants with a job offer or those who have already applied.

In addition, all federal skilled worker and Canadian Experience Class applicants must submit the results of an independent language test before they will be considered.

Previously, applicants had the option of proving their language ability via a written submission. Citizenship and Immigration Canada now only accepts designated third-party language tests as proof of language ability – no exceptions.

Also, the rules for those applying for Canadian residency through the Investor category are set to get tighter.

The proposed changes will require new investors to have a personal net worth of CDN$1.6M, up from CDN$800,000, and make an investment of CDN$800,000, up from CDN$400,000.

Until the new investor rules are implemented, Canada will stop accepting new applications in this category.

This is of course a significant change and the lack of any advance warning makes it difficult for applicants to plan accordingly.