The Federal government will expand the Skilled Graduate visa scheme next year which will allow overseas students who graduate from Australian universities to be eligible for work visas lasting two to four years.
According to Immigration Minister Chris Bowen, the expansion of the Skilled Graduate visa scheme would help to enhance the competitiveness of Australia's $18 billion inbound student industry. The relaxed immigration rules would potentially grant work rights for all 220,000 overseas university students in Australia after they graduate.
The current Australian immigration system allows only graduates who have studied for one of the following skilled occupations: trades, medicine, engineering, architecture, accounting and teaching, to work in Australia for up to 18 months. Other overseas students must leave Australia within a month of graduation.
From next year, however, all graduates will be eligible for Australian work visasregardless of their field of study. Graduates with a bachelor degree, a master's degree or a doctorate will be allowed to stay and work in Australia for two years, three years or four years respectively, rather than the existing 18-month time limit.
Visa holders will need "competent English" and health insurance, as well as have to pass health, character and security requirements.
"These arrangements are not linked to skilled migration so applicants for this visa would not be required to nominate an occupation on the skilled occupation list or undertake a skills assessment", said a spokeswoman for Minister Bowen.
"The government will reserve the capacity to modify arrangements in future according to economic and employment circumstances", she added.
June 15, 2012, Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship announced changes to the pass mark for the new SkillSelect Visa.
The pass mark for the new SkillSelect visa subclasses 189, 190 and 489 will be adjusted to 60 points. SkillSelect is a new electronic service which helps the Australian government to manage the Australian skilled migration program. Applicants wanting to live and work in Australia without an employer sponsor must submit an online expression of interest (EOI) before applying for an Australian visa. Based on claims and attributes of intended migrants, the applicants will be given a score against the points test so that SkillSelect can rank scores with other EOIs. The highest scores will be invited to apply for a skilled visa.
"Delivery of a balanced migration program requires careful management," a spokesperson says. "SkillSelect will provide greater control over who can apply for a skilled visa and when they can apply."
The pass mark for existing general skilled migration subclasses 175, 176, 475, 487, 885 and 886 will stay the same at 65 points. Australia expects the new SkillSelect visas to attract more foreigners with the skills and attributes needed in Australia to register their interest in migration.
The Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) on June 13, 2012 published the updated Skilled Occupation List (SOL) for 2012 which features 4 new occupations and 4 occupations to be removed.
The updated SOL is based on expert advice from the independent body, Skills Australia. The updated SOL for 2012 comprises 192 high value occupations in Australia, with 4 new occupations to be added and 4 occupations to be removed. The additions to the SOL include Production Manager (Mining), Metallurgist, Optometrist, Computer Network and Systems Engineer. 4 occupations that are removed are: Chemist, Audiologist, Bricklayer and Wall and Floor Tiler.
The updated SOL will be effective on July 1, 2012. It will apply to all newindependent (unsponsored) and family sponsored skilled visa applications lodged on or after 1 July 2012 unless they are from applicants eligible for transitional arrangements. DIAC will continue to process applications lodged before July 1, 2012 with a nominated occupation that is no longer on the SOL in effect from July 1, 2012. Priority processing arrangements may however change for certain applicants according to the Ministerial Direction on priority processing.
The SOL determines which occupations are eligible for independent or unsponsored skilled migration. The SOL is reviewed by Skills Australia on an annual basis in order to ensure that it meets the needs of the Australian labour market, and to make sure the migration program is responsive to economic conditions and skills needs.