Frequently Asked Questions – Priority processing arrangements for General Skilled Migration – 19/07/2010

| August 5, 2010 | 0 Comments

 

 

These Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) are designed for clients who have already lodged an application for General Skilled Migration (GSM). These FAQs should be read with the information about the priority processing arrangements.

Please note: These FAQs will continue to be updated in response to common questions received from clients about the changes.

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, set new priority processing arrangements for certain skilled migration visas on 14 July 2010. These priority processing arrangements apply to all applications already lodged with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, as well as all future applications.

QI What is priority processing?

Priority processing refers to the order in which the department considers skilled migration applications. Section 51 of the Migration Act 1958 gives the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship powers to consider and finalise visa applications in an order of priority that the Minister considers appropriate. Departmental officers must follow this ministerial direction, which applies to both new applications and those applications awaiting a decision.

Q2 What are the changes to the skilled migration visa processing priorities?

The Minister has set new priority processing arrangements which apply to the following visas:

 

  • Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS)
  • Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS)
  • Certain General Skilled Migration (GSM) visas.

 

Under the arrangements, processing priorities (with the highest priority listed first) are:

 

  1. Applications from people who are employer sponsored under the ENS and the RSMS.
  2. Applications from people who are nominated by a state or territory government agency with a nominated occupation that is specified on that state or territory’s state migration plan.
  3. Applications from people who have nominated an occupation on the new Skilled Occupation List (SOL) – Schedule 3 in effect from 1 July 2010.
  4. All other applications are to be processed in the order in which they are received.

 

Q3 Which GSM visas are affected by priority processing?

The following GSM visas are affected by priority processing:

 

  • Skilled — Independent subclass 175
  • Skilled — Independent subclass 176
  • Skilled — Regional Sponsored subclass 475
  • Skilled — Regional Sponsored subclass 487
  • Skilled — Independent Regional subclass 495
  • Skilled — Designated Area-sponsored (Provisional) subclass 496
  • Graduate — Skilled subclass 497
  • Skilled — Onshore Independent New Zealand Citizen subclass 861
  • Skilled — Onshore Australian-sponsored New Zealand Citizen subclass 862
  • Skilled — Onshore Designated Area-sponsored New Zealand Citizen subclass 863
  • Skilled — Independent Overseas Student subclass 880
  • Skilled — Australian-sponsored subclass 881
  • Skilled — Designated Area-sponsored Overseas Student subclass 882
  • Skilled — Independent subclass 885
  • Skilled — Sponsored subclass 886.

 

Q4 Which GSM visa subclasses are exempt from priority processing?

The following visa subclasses are exempt from priority processing:

 

  • Skilled — Recognised Graduate subclass 476
  • Skilled — Graduate subclass 485
  • Skilled — Designated Area — Sponsored (Residence) subclass 883
  • Skilled — Regional subclass 887.

 

Applications for these visa subclasses will be processed in the order in which they are received by the department.

Q5 What applications are not affected by the Direction or priority processing?

The following applications are not affected:

 

  • Applications that have been remitted by the Migration Review Tribunal for reconsideration.
  • Applications where it is readily apparent that the criteria for grant of the visa would not be satisfied.
  • Applications by visa applicants claiming to be a member of the family unit of a person who holds a visa granted on the basis of satisfying the primary criteria in Schedule 2 to the Regulations and who did not make a combined application with that person.
  • Visa applications for a Skilled – Regional Sponsored Subclass 487 visa where the applicant holds a Skilled – Independent Regional (Provisional) Subclass 495 visa, Skilled – Designated Area-sponsored
  • (Provisional) Subclass 496 visa, Skilled – Regional Sponsored Subclass 487 visa or Skilled – Regional
  • Sponsored Subclass 475 visa at the time they apply.

 

Q6 The new direction refers to Schedule 3 of the Skilled Occupation list (SOL) what do these schedules refer to?

The Skilled Occupation List (SOL) is a list of occupations that are accepted for general skilled migration. Applicants must have a nominated occupation which is on the SOL that applies to them at the time they apply. The recent changes to skilled migration have included generous transitional arrangements for some people. These arrangements require that the previous version of the SOL be kept available for those people so they can access their transitional arrangements. The changes also included a change in the way occupations are classified, from ASCO to ANZSCO. This change required that the previous version of the SOL be provided in both the ASCO and ANZSCO coding.

The different SOLs are distinguished by different schedules, as follows:

• the SOL in existence prior to 1 July 2010 in ASCO code (schedule 1) — applies only to GSM applicants who lodged their application prior to 1 July 2010.

• the SOL in existence prior to 1 July 2010 in ANZSCO code (schedule 2) — applies to GSM applicants who are eligible for transitional arrangements and who lodge their application before 1 January 2013.

• the current SOL (schedule 3) in effect from 1 July 2010 — applies to all new GSM applications, including applicants eligible for transitional arrangements if they prefer to use it.

• the State and Territory SOL (schedule 4 ) — applies only to GSM applicants nominated by a State or Territory government under a State Migration Plan.

More information about change to the SOL are available from the departmental website. See: www.immi.gov.au/skilled/sol/

Information about the transitional arrangements is available from the departmental website. See: http://www.immi.gov.au/skilled/general-skilled-migration/pdf/faq-sol.pdf

Information about the department’s introduction of ANZSCO, which replaces ASCO in relation to skilled occupations, is available from the departmental website. See: www.immi.gov.au/employers/anzsco/

Q7 What is a State Migration Plan?

State Migration plans are developed by state or territory governments and include occupations that are in demand in an individual state or territory. Each state migration plan is approved by the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship. State migration plans are currently being developed and are expected to come into effect during the second half of 2010. A notice will be put on the department’s website when plans come into effect.

Q8 Why have the processing priorities changed?

The priority processing arrangements take account of the changes to the SOL that came into effect on 1 July 2010, as well as the revocation of the Migration Occupations in Demand List (MODL) and the Critical Skills List (CSL). These changes to priority processing simplify previous arrangements. Many applicants will find that they are in a higher priority group. Some will have to wait longer for their visas to be processed.

Q9 When did the changes to priority processing come into effect?

The changes took effect from 14 July 2010 and apply to applications lodged with the department on or after this date. The changes also apply to applications lodged before 14 July 2010 that have not been finalised.

Q10 Is there any difference in the processing priorities that apply to onshore and offshore visa subclasses?

No, the processing priorities apply to both onshore and offshore applications. Processing times, however may vary for onshore and offshore applications

Q11 What will happen to applications in the final stages of processing where the department has requested applicants to provide health and character clearances?

The new arrangements apply to all visa applications, including those in the final stages of processing. Applications in lower priority groups cannot be processed further until those in higher priority groups are finalised in accordance with the priority processing direction.

Q12 Can I request that my application be given higher priority outside of the Minister’s Direction?

No, please do not contact the department to request your application be exempt from the priority processing direction. Case officers must adhere to the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship’s priority processing direction.

Q13 My nominated occupation is Accountant but I was not eligible for the CSL. What level of priority processing will I receive?

The occupation of Accountant is included on Schedule 3 of the current Skilled Occupation List (SOL) and therefore your application will be in priority group 3, except those already included in priority groups 1 or 2.

Q14 My application is in priority category 4. When can I expect to have my application finalised?

Applicants with nominated occupations in priority group 4 will have a long wait for visa processing. The department’s Client Service Charter will be updated shortly with information about current estimated processing times. See: Visas for Migrating to Australia as a Skilled Person (http://www.immi.gov.au/about/charters/clientservices-charter/visas/8.0.htm)

Q15 I have been nominated by a state or territory government but my occupation is not listed on a State Migration Plan. What level of priority processing will my application receive?

If your nominated occupation is not on your state or territory’s State Migration Plan, your application will be processed on the basis of your nominated occupation. Applicants who have nominated an occupation that is included in Schedule 3 of the current SOL are in priority processing group 3. An applicant with a nominated occupation that is included only in Schedule 1 or Schedule 2 of the current SOL is in priority processing group 4.

Q16 If my nominated occupation is not in Schedule 3 of the SOL in effect at 1 July 2010 what level of priority processing will I receive?

Applicants with a nominated occupation that is included only in Schedule 1 or Schedule 2 of the current SOL are in priority processing group 4, unless they have applied for ENS or RSMS or have a state or territory nomination in an occupation on a state migration plan.

Q17 I applied for GSM. If my nominated occupation is not in Schedule 3 of the SOL in effect at 1 July 2010 can my application receive higher priority processing?

Yes if you are nominated by a state or territory government under a state migration plan. Applicants who lodged before 1 July 2010 that have been nominated by a state or territory government agency in an occupation that is subsequently specified in their nominating state or territory’s state migration plan will receive processing under priority group 2.

Q18 What are my options if my application is in priority group 4 and I have applied for an onshore GSM visa?

The options available are:

 

  • continue to live and work in Australia (if your visa permits) while you await a decision on your visa application
  • assess your eligibility for an employer sponsored visa or a nomination by a state or territory government under a state migration plan agreed to by the minister
  • apply for another substantive visa
  • withdraw your application and depart Australia.

 

Please note: Some of these options would require the lodgement of a new application and the payment of a new Visa Application Charge (VAC). If you choose to withdraw your application you will not be entitled to a refund of your VAC.

For applications lodged after 1 July 2010, a new application may be required if you have obtained a state or territory nomination after lodgement. Please contact the skilled processing centre. See: http://www.immi.gov.au/contacts/australia/processing-centres/adelaide-skilled.htm

You may also seek an employer sponsorship under the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) or the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS).

More information about ENS and RSMS is available from the departmental website. See: www.immi.gov.au/skilled/skilled-workers/visa-permanent.htm

More information about estimated processing times are available from the departmental website. See: http://www.immi.gov.au/about/charters/client-services-charter/visas/8.0.htm

Q19 What are my options if my application is in priority group 4 and I applied for an offshore GSM visa?

The options available are:

 

  • continue to await a decision on your visa application
  • assess your eligibility for an employer sponsored visa, or nomination by a state or territory government under a state migration plan agreed to by the minister
  • withdraw your application.

 

Please note: Some of these options would require the lodgement of a new application and the payment of a new VAC. If you choose to withdraw your application you will not be entitled to a refund of your VAC.

For applications lodged after 1 July 2010, a new application may be required if you have obtained a state or territory nomination after lodgement. Please contact the skilled processing centre. See: http://www.immi.gov.au/contacts/australia/processing-centres/adelaide-skilled.htm

More information about estimated processing times is available from the departmental website. See: http://www.immi.gov.au/about/charters/client-services-charter/visas/8.0.htm

Q20 I am currently in Australia but my visa will expire before my application for an offshore GSM visa is finalised can I remain in Australia while my visa is processed?

Applicants for an offshore GSM visa are not eligible for an associated bridging visa to remain in Australia while their GSM application is being processed. You must apply for another visa to remain in Australia lawfully; otherwise you will need to depart Australia.

Q21 I am an onshore GSM applicant on a Bridging C visa which does not allow me to work. What can I do?

It is possible to be granted a Bridging C visa that will allow you to work. Please complete a Form 1005 Application for a bridging visa and submit this and supporting documentation evidencing financial hardship to the skilled processing centre processing your visa application.

Examples of the types of supporting documents required include a statement outlining income against outgoing expenses. Other examples may include living expenses such as accommodation costs and other bills.

Q22 I want to travel overseas but my onshore visa application has not been finalised. What should I do?

If you were granted a Bridging A visa when you applied for your GSM visa you may be able to lodge an application for a Bridging B visa to allow you to travel and return to Australia (within a specified period). A Bridging B visa is generally not issued for longer than three months.

You must apply for a Bridging B visa at one of the department’s state or territory offices, not the skilled processing centre which is processing your GSM application. See: http://www.immi.gov.au/contacts/australia/

If you travel on a Bridging B visa, you do not need to contact the department on your return to Australia to apply for another bridging visa unless you have further need to travel outside Australia.

Note: If you travel out of Australia on another type of visa, your bridging visa will cease and you will need to apply for another bridging visa if you return to Australia.

Q23 I have a provisional or temporary GSM visa and my spouse/child now want to join me will they be able to do so?

Yes, applications for subsequent entrants for provisional GSM visas are exempt from priority processing arrangements.

These arrangements apply to the following GSM visas:

 

  • Skilled — Regional Sponsored subclass 475
  • Skilled — Recognised Graduate subclass 476
  • Skilled — Graduate subclass 485
  • Skilled — Regional Sponsored subclass 487
  • Skilled — Independent Regional subclass 495
  • Skilled — Designated Area-sponsored subclass 496.

 

Q24 Am I entitled to compensation if my visa application is taking longer to process than expected due to the new priority processing direction?

Compensation is not available for delays in processing.

Q25 Why do the rules keep changing?

The skilled migration program is designed to be responsive to the current economic climate and the needs of the Australian economy. The new priority processing arrangements complement other recent changes to skilled migration to ensure that the economy gets the skills it needs in a timely manner. Priority processing arrangements are always subject to further change in response to the economic climate and the demand for particular skills in the Australian economy.

Priority in the skilled migration program goes to those who can provide the skills Australia most needs, rather than those visa applicants who applied first. The Australian Government is aware that the priority processing arrangements impact on many applicants. These changes to priority processing simplify previous arrangements. Many applicants will find that they are in a higher priority group. Some will have to wait longer for their visas to be processed.

Q26 Isn’t priority processing retrospective legislation?

Priority processing is an administrative arrangement, and impacts on the order in which applications are considered. It is not retrospective legislation as it does not change the criteria for the grant of a GSM visa.

Useful documents

More information about the changes to the GSM program is available from the department’s website including the following information sheets.

See:

http://www.immi.gov.au/skilled/general-skilled-migration/pdf/new-list-of-occupations.pdf (101KB PDF file)

http://www.immi.gov.au/skilled/general-skilled-migration/pdf/faq-new-sol.pdf (87KB PDF file)

http://www.immi.gov.au/skilled/general-skilled-migration/pdf/options-not-eligible.pdf (71KB PDF file)

 

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