By Majorie van Leijen
Applications for a skilled labour immigration visa to Australia are registered through SkillSelect, a programme designed to match labour demand with supply.
The government of Australia has introduced significant reforms to the skilled labour immigration programme.
The employer nomination scheme (ENS) and the regional sponsored migration scheme (RSMS) have been integrated with a new skilled migrant selection register named SkillSelect.
The changes embody the ‘expression of interest’ approach, where applicants for a skilled labour visa register online expressing interest to migrate to Australia.
The government can then select and invite applicants based on the skilled labour demand.
“These new arrangements are designed to better respond to labour market demands and form part of ongoing reform of the skilled migration programme,” a Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) spokesman was quoted as saying on the Department’s official website.
“This will give the government greater control and flexibility to adjust to changes in the economy.
“Sponsors must also demonstrate they have a genuine need for the workers and that the skills required cannot be found in their region,” he added.
According to Rasheed Backer, registered migration agent (RMA) of Australian Immigration and Citizenship Services the new system has advantages and disadvantages for the applicant.
“Now the applicant does not need to pay for a visa application. He can register online by answering all the questions posed; it is a very simple system,” he explains adding that the application would previously cost the applicant over $3,000.
However, the simplicity can be deceptive.
“When the government decides to invite the applicant he needs to be able to support all his qualifications with official documents and a visa can easily be denied when these documents are not presented correctly,” Rasheed points out.
“It may look simple, but the applicant would still need to make sure that all required paper work is available. He still needs to do the IELTS (test of English for higher education, immigration and employment) test.”
Whereas the old system required the applicant to have a minimum of 65 points the new system allows applicants with 60 points to register.
“But selection with this minimum is less likely to be seen,” thinks Rasheed.
“A person applying with 60 points will probably not hear anything in the first six months, whereas a person applying with 70 points is more likely to be selected.
“Your qualifications are more important than the time of application. Among those with the same rank in points there will be a first come, first pick principle.
“But the government will consider higher-qualified applicants first.”
According to Rasheed immigration to Australia is all about skills.
“There is a shortage of skills in Australia at the moment. The government is keen on inviting migrants to the country but applies a very tough selection procedure.
“You need to have at least three years of experience in the field to be considered.”
The new system is in his eyes a tool for the government to increase control over the immigration procedure, as it does not need to legitimise its decisions.
“With the old system people paid money for their application. When they would not receive a response they could make an appeal, and they did.
“Now registration is free of charge, and the applicant will be in the system for two years. Within those two years the government has the freedom to decide who to select and when.”
The latter could mean more uncertainty for the applicant.
Apart from the fact that selection can be anytime, it is unclear how many people will be invited every month as this depends on demand of the labor market.
“In July, 90 people were invited,” tells Rasheed. “I am not sure, but I believe that was from applicants of all countries.”
In the same month Rasheed received 70 applications through his office only.
“The Australian government said they would invite a large number of applicants in August,” Rasheed added.
People who have applied for a skilled worker visa before July 1, 2012 will not be subjected to the new rules and will have to wait for a response to their application according to the old system.