NEWSLETTER No. 26 – February 2010

AUSTRALIA – SKILLED MIGRATION CHANGES

The Australian Department of Immigration have announced some significant changes in the processing of applications in the General Skilled Migration category.

The Migration Occupation Demand List and the current Skilled Occupations Lists are to be replaced by a new Occupations List. This new list will allocate points for migration to different occupations according to the demand for such occupations.

This will form part of a new overall points system for migration, which is due to be launched by July 2010. A consultation paper on the framework for the new points system will now be launched.

It is very important for applicants to note that all current applications (lodged after September 2007 and currently in the system) are not affected. Any future changes will not apply to such applications, which will continue to be assessed on the criteria in place when they were lodged.

Applications which are sponsored by a State government will still be accepted. The announcement has specifically mentioned that state sponsored migration plans will play an important role in the future points system.

Current applicants who have yet to apply, have the choice of waiting for the new system or submitting beforehand on the current criteria.

The Minister for Immigration, Senator Chris Evan, has pledged that the new occupations list and the new points system will be much more focused on Australia’s skills shortages. The current system is seen as insufficient to properly pinpoint the key skills needed.

The Minister has stated that one of the main purposes of the changes is to break the “automatic” link between studying in Australia and then applying for permanent residence. The current government have long been critical of the routes introduced
by the previous government, which provided a direct pathway for overseas students obtaining qualifications in “demand” occupations, to then apply for residence. It seems that overseas student currently studying in Australia will be most affected by the changes. Shortage occupations such as nurses, accountants, engineers and trades workers are all expected to feature prominently in the new migration system, as these are in shortage throughout Australia. Such occupations are already on the in-demand lists for State governments.

As part of moves to address the backlog of current application, the Minister has announced that all applications submitted before September 2007 and not currently concluded, will be returned to the applicant with a fee refund. This is through the Minister utilising the power of “capping” – setting a maximum number of visas that can be processed. This is a highly controversial move which has been met with much vocal opposition already.

We will of course update you on further developments on the new migration system, through our newsletter, as more information becomes available.

If you want to know more about how you may qualify for Australian residence, then please feel free to complete the online assessment form on our website.

UNITED STATES – EB 5 IMMIGRANT VISA EXTENSION

The opportunity to make an investment in a selected government approved scheme has now been extended to 2012. This is excellent news as now for a designated investment of $500,000 investors obtain a US Immigrant Visa. This Florida based scheme (you can live where you want in the US) also comes with a number of valuable investor benefits. The visa conditions enable to realise your assets after three years. Please contact us for more information on this important development.

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