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The significant changes of the skilled migration announced to improve Australia's competitiveness

From the Director Desk Major Changes to Student Visa and subclass_457 visa program An overhaul of both the two most popular visa categories have been announced with some changes effective since 19 April 2016 and further “significant changes” expected from 1 July 2016.

The department of immigration has informed a Productivity Commission inquiry into migration that it was working on “significant” reform of the skilled migration and temporary activity visas that are “expected to improve Australia’s competitiveness and ability to attract highly skilled migrants”, according to a report in The Australian.

The changes will result in “a new simplified system that deregulates visa requirements, and improves the process for applying for visas, and reduces overlapping pathways”, notes the report.

Explaining that the government has been working on the reforms for a while now, Immigration Minister, Mr Peter Dutton said,

“- The government understands that the current skilled migration and temporary activity visa programs are difficult to navigate…We are committed to smarter regulation in this area, improving integrity in our visa programs and increasing the contribution of skilled migration to Australia’s productivity and economy-”

July will see student visa categories cut down to just two subclasses:

  • Subclass_500 (Student)
  • Subclass_590 (Student Guardian)

From Our Migration Advisor:

The first set of changes connected with the subclass – 457 program commenced 19 April 2016.

According to the Explanatory Statement the purpose of Migration Legislation Amendment Regulation 2016, is to:

  • Address inappropriate use of the Subclass 457 program by imposing an obligation on standard business sponsors so as not to engage in recruitment practices, which discriminate against potential employees on the grounds of immigration status or citizenship;
  • Streamline the processing of Subclass – 457 visa applications by requiring visa applicants to enter the details of a nominated sponsor or proposed sponsor when making internet visa applications;
  • Remove visa criteria, which require provision of evidence of English language proficiency by Subclass – 457 visa applicants who are already required to demonstrate such proficiency to obtain occupational registration or licensing;


Further “significant changes” accordingly with explanatory Statement (Migration Legislation Amendment Regulation 2016) expected from 1 July 2016:

  • Streamline application and processing requirements for student visa applicants, in particular by making criteria common to all applicants, including criteria relating to enrolment, English language requirements, financial capacity, and genuineness of application for entry and stay as a student;
  • simplify a range of requirements including enrolment requirements, financial requirements, and requirements relating to visas previously held if the application is made in Australia;
  • repeal the provisions relating to the current regulatory assessment level framework and streamline processing provisions. Introduce new requirements to strengthen the integrity of the program by providing a large range of factors for decision makers to assess genuineness and the need for individuals to provide evidence of financial and English proficiency;
  • revise a condition placed on student visas to make it clear to visa holders of type of courses they are permitted to undertake while holding the particular visa and when a change of course would require them to apply for a new student visa; and
  • make other amendments to repeal duplicate and redundant provisions and clarify the operation of the relevant provisions.
Elizabeth Wisser
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