I think we are a bit late here in wishing everyone a Happy New Year but we guess its better to wish a belated something than not wishing at all. So, Happy New Year everyone! With 2016 a year full of policy changes and a very tough stance taken by the Department in almost all the visa categories , we can only hope the Department doesn’t make the ride any bumpier than it already is . Now, let’s do a quick flashback on the trends observed in 2016 :
There was a huge push from the Department to crack down on the so called rorting of the Employer sponsored visas namely 457, 457 to ENS transition , ENS and RSMS. The most affected subclasses were 457 and 457 to ENS transition . The bulldozer approach by the Department resulted in a lot of genuine employers seeking a merits review .
The world of Accountants fell apart with the bar raised so high that even the best and brightest applicants couldn’t secure an invite. IT professionals and Engineers didn’t fare any better with the qualifying points increased by 5 and 10 points respectively.
Liberals announced the introduction of Long term stay visa for parents by July 2017. We have mixed views on this announcement as the visa comes with a lot of fine prints .
Here are our predictions in terms of Department’s policy towards various subclasses :
General Skilled Migration (GSM) visas – subclass 189, 190, 489 and 485
Let’s start with Accountants . Despite the Department flagging it, it is highly unlikely that Accountants are going to be removed from the Skilled Occupation List . CPA Australia and other prominent accounting bodies have been lobbying hard for Accountants and it will be surprising to see the Department turning a deaf ear to the same bodies it seeks advice from in regards to the yearly planning levels. Having said that, the trend regarding higher points for expecting an invite would continue . Aiming for 8 each or equivalent in IELTS/PTE, passing the NAATI test, gaining work experience , pursuing a professional year , seeking state sponsorship from Tasmania ( provided you have a job offer ) or NSW are some of the things you should seriously consider . The aim should be to achieve 75 points to secure an invite . Think of it as your dream job with too many applicants where you have shine like a star to impress the interviewers.
IT professionals and Engineers should also expect tough times with the points to secure an invite expected to increase from current 65 to 70 or even higher . With the number of Expressions of Interests steadily increasing , the professionals in these fields should be ready to face the same hardships as Accountants and implement similar strategies ( mentioned above ) to score higher.
The 485 Post study work stream is expected to be a smooth ride as it already has been in 2016. Recent graduates planning to apply for or already on 485 Post Study Work Stream should use the two years to gain work experience or try improve their english language skills . If you are thinking that a professional year is a waste of money , Think again ! The five additional points could make all the difference between getting the invite or missing the flight . A PY is definitely a bang for your buck if you are struggling with points.
Employer Sponsored visas – subclass 457, 186 ENS, 187 RSMS
We expect the Department to continue monitoring the already approved Employers and visa holders for compliance . The trend with refusals based on ” Genuine need for a paid Employee”. ” Genuine Positions ” and sponsoring business’ poor financial capacity is also here to stay. The Department will also tread carefully whilst making a decision on lodged applications especially if it’s a new business . Needless to say that a decision ready application with all the documents attached is likely to win the heart of your allocated case officer.
Meeting the training benchmark requirement is one area which will be closely monitored by the Department this year. Please make sure that the Training benchmark requirements are met year after year rather than clubbing them together .
The occupations of Cafe Managers and Customer Service managers is something to watch out for in 2017 . With a already high refusal rate , it comes as no surprise that the Minister has flagged these ( and many other ) occupations that are likely to be removed from the Consolidated Skills Occupation list .
So, that was the bad news . The good news is that the Department has already shown signs that it has relaxed its approach towards RSMS , SC 187 visas. Even the regional certifying bodies infamous for a vey low approval late have shown some positive signs . The point we want to make is that if you have got a choice between a 457 or RSMS ( provided you have 6 each in IELTS or equivalent score in PTE ), then you should definitely be choosing the latter.
Student and Student Guardian Visas – subclass 500 and 590
Student visas are expected to be continuing at the same pace and the Department is going to follow the same trend as it did in 2016. With the streamlining of the visas to just two subclasses ( 500 and 590 ), there would be an even stronger focus on the dreaded Genuine Temporary Entrant criteria. Your profile to the Department should be presented as a student rather than a temporary resident seeking permanent residence .
Prospective applicants with no justification for higher gaps in their studies , low IELTS/PTE score or lower percentage in their year 12 or bachelors should not apply and seek other options .
Monitoring of non compliance with the student visa conditions will also continue . Zero tolerance policy would still apply to hoppers of courses and course providers.
Family visas – Partner, Parent – subclass 309/100, 820/801, 103, 143, 173, 101/802
Patience is virtue . It would hard for anyone to understand this phrase any better than the applicants for the above subclasses waiting for a case officer to be allocated .Sadly, these waits will continue to be longer in 2017. There have been a few odd cases where a case officer has been allocated within three months of a partner visa application being lodged. This however, cannot be considered a benchmark as more than eighty percent of the partner visa applications are still taking over a year to be picked up by a case officer. A partner visa is one of the most mismanaged streams despite a premium fee being charged for it.
Applicants were a schedule 3 applies will have to prove that compelling reasons existed for the lodgement of their application onshore.
The contributory parent visa category , SC 143 will continue to have longer wait times for over two years and discussions are already on the table to double the 2nd instalment fee which currently stands at $ 43,600 . So, delaying the lodgement could result in the applicants with a very deep hole in their pockets.
Non contributory parent visa , SC 103 will continue to have the unrealistic wait times of 30 years with no change expected in 2017. The fee for SC 103 may be reviewed and increased further.
The long term visitor visa for parents is going to be introduced in July this year . It will be a visa for 10 years but our assumption is that it won’t be as popular as expected due to a higher application fee , possibility of a bond being requested and the requirement for the sponsors to prove their financial capablity .
The Minister has already announced that the Australian Citizenship test is going to be tougher with more focus on the applicant’s integration to the Australian way of life and social values . The Department will also make it tougher for applicants with an adverse character record to secure their Australian Citizenship .
Summary of our predictions for 2017
Accountants, IT professionals and Engineers would have to score higher points to secure an invite .
Stricter 457 compliance monitoring by the Department . RSMS to have a higher approval rate . Restaurant and Café Manager and Customer service manager likely to be removed.
Success rate with Post study graduate visa to continue.
Longer processing times for the Partner Visa and The Contributory Parent Visa . 2nd instalment fee for contributory parent visa may increase significantly . Long term parent visa to be introduced in July 2017.
The Australian citizenship to get tougher .
There are no two doubts that there are tough times ahead but we assure you that there will be light at the end of the tunnel provided you stand apart from the crowd and plan your journey well. It’s anyways easier to fight if you have a fair bit of an idea what to expect from the future . On a motivational front , we will leave you with these popular lines from the movie Godfather which should be on the back of your mind when presenting your application to the case officer .
“I will make him an offer, he can’t refuse “
So, get the ball rolling and start preparing for your offer. Best of luck and Happy New Year once again.