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General Skilled Migration - New Points Test Effective July 1, 2011
The Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship announced on November 11, 2011 that a new points-based system for the General Skilled Migration (GSM) category will take effect from July 1, 2011. The changes come as a result of the GSM reforms that began in early 2010, and will apply to applicants for the following visa subclasses:
  • Subclass 885 Skilled Independent
  • Subclass 886 Skilled Sponsored
  • Subclass 487 Skilled Regional Sponsored
  • Subclass 175 Skilled Independent
  • Subclass 176 Skilled Sponsored
  • Subclass 475 Skilled - Regional Sponsored
The most significant changes to occur as a result of the new points-based system are:
  • Reduction in the pass mark from the current 120 points to 65 points (please note this is the expectation but it is possible the Minister for Immigration may announce a new pass mark at any time). There will no longer be a distinction in the pass mark between independent and sponsored visas and permanent and provisional visas.
  • Specific points will no longer be awarded based on a person's occupation. Applicants, however, must still nominate a gazetted occupation and will be required to satisfy an occupational skills assessment from the relevant Australian occupational authority.
  • Applicant's holding acceptable overseas qualifications will now be able to earn points under the new system.
  • Maximum age of principal applicants for the GSM will be raised from 44 years of age to 49 years of age. Applicants over 45 will not receive any points for age under the new system but will at least be eligible to apply if they are highly skilled and are able to attain the pass mark.
  • Points will continue to be awarded for study in Australia including regional study, community languages, and partner skills, as well as for completing an approved Professional Year.
The new points-test aims to place a greater level of weight on high levels of English language ability and high level of educational qualifications, and gives more recognition to applicants who have extensive skilled work experience, either in Australia or overseas.
Under the new points-based system, points will continue to be awarded for State and Territory sponsorships. Applicants for the Skilled - Sponsored Subclass 176/886 visas will need to be sponsored by a State or Territory Government under a State Migration Plan, as there will no longer be a permanent family sponsored skilled migration visa. The State Migration Plans, which are being introduced across the country, with ACT, NT and VIC having already finalised their Plans, are aimed at providing States and Territories with greater flexibility within the Migration Program. It is hoped that the State Migration Plans will address specific skill shortages and meet local labour market needs.
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