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From 1 July 2012, skilled migration to Australia is managed by a process called "SkillSelect". Under this process, potential applicants have to lodge an "Expression of Interest" (EoI) and wait to be invited to lodge a visa application. Once the invitation is issued, the visa can be applied for either in Australia or overseas. The SkillSelect visas are the following

  • 189 Skilled independent
  • 190 Skilled sponsored
  • 489 Skilled Regional Sponsored (provisional visa only)
  • 887 Skilled Regional Sponsored (permanent visa)
  • 186 Employer Nominated *
  • 187 Regional Employer Nominated*
(* These two visas can also be applied for directly, without an EoI).

If you lodged an application for skilled migration before 1 July 2012, the changes do not apply to you. Your visa will continue to be processed under the previous system.

What is an EoI?

One interesting feature of the Expression of Interest (EoI) is that, legally, it doesn't exist. You won't find it anywhere in the Migration Act or Migration Regulations. However, you can't lodge an application for any of the above visas (except for the 186 and 187) without  first putting in an EoI and waiting for your invitation.

You have to lodge your EoI online at the DIAC website. Before you do, you need to make some preparation. At the very least, you probably need to sit for an English language test  called IELTS, and have an official skills assessment in an occupation on one of the two lists of occupations approved for migration to Australia, known as the Skilled Occupation List (SOL) and the Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL). 

As you go through the EoI online application you will have to input a certain amount of information about yourself, although not as much as you might think. Once you submit the EoI, this information will be analysed by a computer program matching it against the skilled migration points test. You will be ranked against other candidates in order of your score and date of application, and then at regular intervals the computer will pick off a certain number of applicants from the top of the ranking and issue them an invitation to apply for a visa.

Points tests have been used for many years for skilled migration to Australia. The SkillSelect test, however, has an important new feature. There is no guaranteed pass mark. What is referred to as the pass mark, currently 60 points, is really an entrance mark. If you score below that your EoI will not even be considered. Whether your score is enough to get you an invitation, however, will depend on your ranking relative to that of other people who have lodged EoIs at the same time as you.

So, you want to get your score to be as high as possible. Yes, but, there is a sting in the tail here. When you get your invitation you will have to prove that you can achieve the score you claimed on the EoI, even if other candidates who claimed lower scores are getting through. Be particularly careful about what you claim  for work experience, for example. You might be telling the truth about where you have worked in the past, but if you can't provide documentation that satisfies the Department of Immigration, you could be marked down and even face a ban on lodging further applications.

I've tried before, is there any point in trying again under SkillSelect?

SkillSelect uses the same points test that has been in operation since 1 July 2011. Until SkillSelect started, the pass mark was 65. If you scored 60 at that time, it might be worth having another try now.

If you inquired about skilled migration before skilled migration before 1 July 2011, you might be in for a surprise. The old points test was similar in many ways to the current one, but while the old test ranked occupations into three categories (60 points, 50 points or 40 points), the new test gives does not give points for the occupation itself so that all occupations on the list have equal value. 

This could improve the chances of some applicants with paraprofessional or semi-professional occupations such as the ones listed below, especially if they have 3 to 8 years of work experience:

  • Actuary 
  • Agricultural consultant 
  • Agricultural scientist 
  • Cartographer 
  • Civil engineering draftsperson 
  • Civil engineering technician 
  • Construction project Manager 
  • Dental hygienist 
  • Dental therapist 
  • Electrical engineering draftperson 
  • Electrical engineering technician 
  • Forester
  • Internal auditor 
  • Land economist 
  • Landscape architect
  • Medical administrator 
  • Other Spatial Scientist 
  • Project Builder 
  • Psychotherapist
  • Radiocommunications technician 
  • Ship's engineer 
  • Ship's master 
  • Ship's officer 
  • Special education teachers nec 
  • Special needs teacher 
  • Teacher of the hearing impaired 
  • Teacher of the sight impaired 
  • Telecommunications network planner 
  • Telecommunications technical officer or technologist 
  • Urban and regional planner 
  • Valuer 
  • Welfare centre manager

The new test also gives points for overseas qualifications that were previously ignored, and gives more emphasis to work experience than the old test.

Points for age are shifted towards more mature applicants, and applicants aged 45 to 49 are not treated as too old to apply.

The minimum English language requirement is 6 across all parts of the IELTS test. Applicants with Canadian, Irish, UK, US and New Zealand passports automatically qualify, and higher points are awarded for scores of 7 or 8.

Contact us if you are interested in finding out whether you can qualify for migration to Australia under SkillSelect.

The choice is yours...   

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Copyright 2013 Michael Jones ~ Solicitor. All rights reserved.

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