April 11, 2012

The changes to the permanent employer sponsored visas (ENS and RSMS) coming in on 1 July 2012 are quite significant. One of the main intentions behind the changes to the ENS/RSMS programs is to streamline the process of applying for permanent residence whilst holding a 457 visa.

People will be affected differently by the new changes depending on their circumstances. This article goes through the main winners under the new system.

ENS/RSMS Eligibility Streams

The requirements for ENS and RSMS vary depending on which “eligibility stream” you apply under from 1 July. To appreciate the impact of the changes, it’s important to have an understanding of the eligibility streams:

Temporary Residence Transition:

where applicants have worked with the employer on a 457 visa for the last 2 years. Applicants in this category have a streamlined pathway onto permanent residence through ENS and RSMS from 1 July.

Direct Entry Stream:

for applicants who have not worked in Australia, or who have worked in Australia on a visa other than a 457 visa. Criteria for these applicants are higher – for ENS they must have a skills assessment and 3 years of work experience in their occupation, and RSMS applicants must get approval from a Regional Certifying Body and may also require skills assessment.

Agreement Stream:

for applicants whose employer has a Labour Agreement. Labour agreements are special arrangements individually negotiated with the Department of Immigration, and allow sponsorship in a wider range of occupations and are required for the “on-hire” or “labour hire” industry.

1. People on 457 visas in non-ENS occupations

There are many people on 457 visas who have been sponsored in an occupation which is not on the current ENS Occupations List.

Examples of such occupations include:

  • Cafe or Restaurant Manager
  • Customer Service Managers
  • Various IT specialisations
  • Intermediate service managers (eg
  • Divers and Diving Instructors
  • Farmers

People sponsored for 457 visas in these occupations are currently on a “road to nowhere” – they can stay in Australia on 457 visas, but have limited options in applying for permanent residence.

From 1 July 2012, there will be a single consolidated list of occupations which applies to 457, ENS and State/Territory Sponsored Skilled Visas.

As a result, people already on a 457 visa will be able to look at an ENS visa once they have worked with their employer on a 457 visa in their occupation for 2 years, even if their occupation is not on the current ENS list.

2. Applicants between 45 and 50 years of Age

The age limit for ENS and RSMS visas will increase from 45 to 50 from 1 July 2012.

As a result, applicants between 45 and 50 will be able to qualify for an ENS or RSMS visa without needing to show Exceptional Circumstances.

3. Applicants over 60 years on 457 visas

Under current arrangements, it is extremely difficult for applicants aged over 60 to obtain an ENS or RSMS visa. Under current DIAC policy, applicants must show that they will make a significant economic contribution to Australia and have a very high salary level ($213,000 or more).

From 1 July 2012, applicants who have worked for their employer for the last 4 years on a 457 visa and who have a salary of over $118,000 should be eligible for an exemption to the age requirement.

This will make it far more possible for applicants over 60 to qualify for migration under the Employer Nomination Scheme.

 

March 12, 2012

 

The government will replace the six employer sponsored permanent visa programs with two simplified categories.

The Australian Government has announced plans to make it easier for skilled migrants to become permanent Australian residents.

The Immigration Minister Chris Bowen says the changes will simplify the process for people who hold 457 visas which give temporary work rights, to apply for the permanent employer-sponsored visa program.

From July this year, overseas workers in the 457 category won’t have to have a second skills test and English test to become eligible for residency.

But the changes will tighten the application process for people who apply for permanent visas without having worked in Australia already.

Mr Bowen says applicants seeking direct entry to Australia will first be expected to sit a basic English test .

“Particularly remembering these people are often living in regional Australia, where perhaps the level of access to English training might not be as extensive as it would be in capital cities, and they will be working in occupations that will require a good level of English in any event,” he said.

Mr Bowen says the government will also replace the six employer sponsored permanent visa programs with two simplified categories.

He says the changes will help deal with critical skills shortages in some industries.

The chief executive of the Australian Federation of Employers and Industries, Gary Brack, told Radio Australia the streamlined process could help alleviate labor supply shortages in some sectors.

“One of the most important aspects of this is the speed with which you can actually make the transition,” he said.

“Employers get caught short in the market if they can’t recruit somebody. A lot of them are desperate to get people at a particular time. So if it can be expedited in the way that it’s been discussed, then that will certainly be advantageous.”

Ged Kearney, the president of Australia’s peak union body, the ACTU, says while the changes would have distinct advantages for overseas workers, it must not undermine the ability for local workers to obtain those jobs.

She told Radio Australia there is a possibility that migrant workers could be exploited by their employers under the planned changes.

“We would not like to see a situation where the overseas worker’s still bonded to an employer simply because they have been encouraged to hang on – maybe in sub-standard terms and conditions or sub-standard wages et cetera, with the promise that if you work for less money, or work for less conditions, we can now get you permanent residency,” she said.

The Opposition says the government should go further with its attempts to cut red tape for skilled migration.

The Coalition’s immigration spokesman Scott Morrison says the government should also reintroduce the immigration concessions that were scrapped in 2009.

“The government abolished the regional concessions for 457s when they came to government ,which was a major and important program for particularly small and regional business,” he said.

“The government has not restored those concessions.”

 

The new system will operate from July 1.

 

Source: Reuters – Anna Henderson and Girish Sawlani, Canberra Fri, 9 Mar 2012