Immigration – New points test
On 11 November 2010 the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship announced the Commonwealth Government’s intention to implement a new points test for certain General Skilled Migration visas.
The new points test will apply to applications made on or after 1 July 2011.
The Commonwealth Government expects the pass mark for the new points test to be 65 points. Under the current system, the pass mark ranges from 100 to 120 points, depending on the visa subclass.
The current points test awards either 40, 50 or 60 points for occupation. Under the new points test, no points will be awarded for occupation. Instead, applicants will have to have an occupation on the Skilled Occupation List.
There will be a number of changes to points awarded for age. Applicants aged 18 to 24 will only receive 25 points instead of the current 30. Applicants aged 25 to 32 years will receive 30 points. Twenty-five points will be awarded in the 33-39 age group and 15 points will be awarded in the 40-44 age group.
A significant difference is that as of 1 July 2011, applicants between 45 and 49 will be eligible to apply for General Skilled Migration although they will not receive points in the age category. Currently these individuals are not eligible for General Skilled Migration.
English Language Skills
Under the new points test, applicants with “competent” English (IELTS 6) will receive zero points, as opposed to 15 points under the current points test. Applicants with “proficient” English (IELTS 7) will receive 10 points. Applicants with “superior” English (IELTS 8) will receive 20 points. Overall, these changes will benefit applicants having excellent English language skills.
Australian Work Experience
Currently, 10 points are available for working 12 of the last 24 months in Australia in your nominated or closely related occupation but having more work experience does not result in additional points.
Under the new points test, applicants will be awarded points as follows:
- 5 points for working one of the last two years;
- 10 points for working three of the last five years;
- 15 points for working five of the last seven years.
These changes favour 457 visa holders, as they are the major group of foreign workers able to accumulate more than two years of work experience in Australia. International students are generally unable to gain more than two years of work experience because it is very difficult to count work experience undertaken during studies.
Overseas Work Experience
Points are also available for overseas work experience in the applicant’s nominated occupation or closely related occupation. Applicants receive five points for three years of overseas work experience in the last five years, up to a maximum of 15 points.
The current points test gives 40 points for a diploma level qualification, 50 points for a general professional occupation requiring a degree level qualification and 60 points for trades and specialist professions. The new system will replace this approach by awarding points for types of qualifications.
Points have always been available for people who have completed Australian qualifications. However, points will also be available for the first time for some qualifications gained overseas.
Under the new system 10 points will be awarded for:
- offshore recognised apprenticeship,
- AQFIII/IV completed in Australia, or
- diploma completed in Australia;
- 15 points will be awarded for a bachelor degree (including a bachelor degree with honours or masters); and
- 20 points will be awarded for a PhD.
Under the current test, 10 points are awarded for the completion of a professional year in Australia. Under the new test, only five points will be available.
Sponsorship by state or territory government
Currently, 10 points are available for sponsorship by a state or territory government. Under the new points test, five points will be available for sponsorship to live in a metropolitan area and ten points for sponsorship to a regional area.
After 1 July 2011, it will no longer be possible to apply for a skilled – sponsored visa through family sponsorship. Only ten points will be available if sponsored by a relative living in a designated area when applying for a skilled – regional sponsored visa.
Points for partner skills will remain unchanged at five points.
Under the new test, five points will be available for skills in a designated language but only if the applicant holds a NAATI accreditation as a translator or interpreter. Applicants holding degrees taught in the designated language will no longer qualify.
If you are considering applying for a points tested visa, you should seek advice as to whether you will be better off applying under the current system or waiting until the new points test is introduced. An expert can assist in determining whether the current or new points test would be most beneficial to your circumstances.