Here are some changes that may affect you:

General Skilled Migration Occupation Ceilings 2015-16

With the commencement of the new invitation rounds, the occupation ceilings for the year 2015-16 have been released online for points based skilled visas.

Some observations:

  • there has been a 54% decrease in the ceiling for Accountants;
  • there has been an 8% decrease in the ceiling for Registered Nurses (although, the ceiling for the occupation still remains relatively high);
  • Dentists have been removed from the list;
  • there has been a large increase in the ceiling for Metal Fitters, Machinists and Plumbers;
  • Panelbeaters and Cabinetmakers have been added to the list;
  • 40 invitations have already been issued for occupation group, Barristers.

New Occupations List for RSMS Direct Entry Nomination

The Department has now introduced a new occupations list for Direct Entry applicants under the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS).

Occupations nominated under the RSMS Direct Entry Stream must now appear on the ‘RSMS Direct Entry Nomination Occupation List’ as specified by Schedule A of Legislative Instrument – IMMI 15/083. The list includes all ANZSCO Level 1-3 occupations.

A link to the legislative instrument can be found here:

Age Exemptions for Medical Practitioners in Regional Australia under ENS and RSMS

The age exemption is now available for eligible medical practitioners who are 50 years of age and over, work in regional Australia and who wish to apply for the Subclass 186 Visa and Subclass 187 Visa.

From 1 July 2015, the age exemption available to medical practitioners in regional Australia will no longer require employment with the same employer while holding a subclass 457 or 422 visa. 

Instead, medical practitioners applying for a Subclass 186 or Subclass 187 visa must demonstrate at least four years employment in the nominated occupation and at least two years of the required four years employment must be located in regional Australia.

Labour Agreements for Ministers of Religion

The Minister of Religion occupation is now ineligible for the Subclass 457 visa, and the Direct Entry and Temporary Residence Transition streams of the Subclass 186 and Subclass 187 visa. In order to be eligible Religious organisations must:

  • sign up to the available Minister of Religion Industry Labour Agreement before lodging an employer nomination for the Subclass 186 visa under the Agreement Stream; or
  • sign up to the Minister of Religion Labour Agreement before lodging a 457 Nomination.

In addition to this, Ministers of Religion have now been removed from the class of persons who are exempt from English language, age and skills criteria for subclass 186 and 187 visas.

Significant and Premium Investor Visas

The government has made changes to the Significant Investor Visa (SIV) framework and introduced the Premium Investor Visa (PIV) program to encourage investment into innovative Australian research and development and emerging local companies.

From 1 July 2015 Expressions of Interest for the enhanced Significant Investor Visa (SIV) can now be submitted through the Department’s website.

The PIV is a separate visa stream that will target talented entrepreneurs and innovators with a minimum $15 million to invest. It will be an exclusive program available at the invitation of the Australian Government. This program will be developed over the next year by Austrade.

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (‘AAT’)

The Migration Review Tribunal (‘MRT’) and the Refugee Review Tribunal (‘RRT’) have been combined under the ‘Migration and Refugee Division’ of the AAT. Accordingly, the AAT now has jurisdiction to hear:

  • a range of visa refusal and visa cancellation decisions under the Migration Act 1958 that had previously been reviewed by the MRT; and
  • most onshore protection refusal decisions under the Migration Act 1958 that had previously been reviewed by the RRT.

The fee payable for an application for review has also increased to $1,673.

The Department Website

The Department Website is sporting a new look with the amalgamation of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. Further, all Department correspondence will now use as opposed to