Changes to Australian General Skilled Migration go into effect

03 September 2007


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On 01 September 2007, changes to Australia's General Skilled Migration (GSM) program went into effect. The changes included reducing the number of skilled migration visas from 15 to 9, rewarding more points for excellent English language skills, and awarding more points for advanced Australian educational and work experience.

The reforms were announced in April by Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews and Education, Science and Training Minister Julie Bishop.

"The changes give greater certainty that international students will have the language proficiency to gain the full benefit of their studies. This also assists in maintaining the strong reputation of our education sector as a provider of high quality education to international students," Bishop said.

A temporary visa has also been created for overseas students already in Australia to remain in the country and gain work experience -- known as the Skilled - Graduate visa. There is also a new visa, called the Skilled - Recognised Graduate visa, for recent overseas graduates from recognized universities who have skills Australia considers valuable.

"The changes would lead to better labour market outcomes for all General Skilled Migration applicants and help deliver the skills Australian employers need," said Andrews

We've updated our site to reflect the changes, including our points calculator, which can test an applicant's chances of being accepted for skilled migration for offshore skilled visas, including the offshore Skilled - Independent visa and the offshore Skilled - Sponsored visa.

Below is a breakdown of the new visa structure:

New Offshore Visa Subclasses

People outside of Australia can apply for the following visa subclasses:

Skilled – Independent (subclass 175) -- This permanent visa replaces the Skilled – Independent (subclass 136) visa and the Skilled – Independent New Zealand Citizen (subclass 861) visa. New Zealand citizens applying for GSM can use this visa class regardless of whether they are inside or outside Australia. This visa is assessed by a points system, with 120 points required to pass and 100 points required to be entered into a reserve pool.

Skilled – Sponsored (subclass 176) -- This permanent visa replaces the State Territory Nominated Independent (subclass 137) visa, the Skilled – Australian Sponsored (subclass 138) visa and the Skilled – Australian Sponsored New Zealand Citizen (subclass 862) visa. New Zealand citizens applying for GSM can use this visa class regardless of whether they are in or outside Australia. This visa is assessed by a points system, with 100 points required to pass and 80 points required to be entered into a reserve pool.

Skilled – Regional Sponsored (subclass 475) visa -- This provisional visa, valid for three years, replaces the Skilled – Independent Regional (subclass 495) visa, the Skilled – Designated Area Sponsored (subclass 496) visa and the Skilled – Designated Area New Zealand Citizen (subclass 863) visa. Skilled – Regional Sponsored visa holders can apply for a permanent Skilled – Regional visa once they have lived for two years and worked full-time for one year in a specified regional area of Australia. This visa is assessed by a points system, with 100 points required to pass. There is no reserve pool for this visa.

Skilled – Recognised Graduate (subclass 476) visa -- This new 18 month temporary visa is for graduates of recognized overseas universities with skills in demand in Australia. Recognised Graduate (subclass 476) visa holders will have unrestricted work and study rights and can apply for a permanent GSM or employer sponsored visa at any time. The Recognised Graduate (subclass 476) visa will initially be restricted to graduates with a bachelor degree or higher qualification in engineering from a recognised university.

New Onshore Visa Subclasses

People already in Australia on an eligible visa will be able to apply for the following GSM visa subclasses:

Skilled - Independent (subclass 885) -- This permanent visa replaced the Skilled - Independent Overseas Student (subclass 880) visa. This visa is assessed by a points system, with 120 points required to pass. There is no reserve pool with this visa.

Skilled - Sponsored (subclass 886) -- This permanent visa replaced the Skilled - Australian Sponsored Overseas Student (subclass 881) visa. This visa is assessed by a points system, with 100 points required to pass. There is no reserve pool for this visa.

Skilled – Graduate (subclass 485) visa -- This 18 month temporary visa replaces the Graduate – Skilled (subclass 497) visa. Skilled – Graduate visa holders work and study with unrestricted rights and can apply for a permanent GSM or employer-sponsored visa at any time.

Skilled – Regional Sponsored (subclass 487) visa -- This provisional visa, valid for three years, replaces the Skilled – Independent Regional (subclass 495) visa and the Skilled – Designated Area Sponsored (subclass 496) visa. Skilled – Regional Sponsored visa holders can apply for a permanent Skilled – Regional visa once they have lived for two years and worked full-time for one year in a specified regional area of Australia. This visa is assessed by a points system, with 100 points required to pass. There is no reserve pool for this visa.

Skilled – Regional (subclass 887) visa -- This is a permanent visa for holders of Skilled – Regional Sponsored (subclass 487 and 475), Skilled – Independent Regional and Skilled – Designated Area-Sponsored visas and replaces the second stage Skilled – Designated Area Sponsored (subclass 883) visa and the State/Territory Nominated Independent (subclass 137) visa.