Major changes to the GSM programme

On February 8 2010, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, announced new reforms to the general skilled migration programme. Some of the critical reforms announced were, the new Skill occupation list, new points system, introduction of State Migration Plan, removing the MODL points and a change in the priority processing system. Some of these changes such as removing MODL points had taken place immediately and some other changes are to take place in the middle of the year.

As part of this the Minister has released the new SOL on May 17, the new list is proposed to take effect from July 1 .

The new list is specific to the General Skilled Migration (GSM) programme and does not apply to employer sponsored permanent or temporary visas. It comprised 181 occupations and is based on the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO). The new SOL is provided by Skills Australia which is an independent body established by the Australian Government to provide advice on Australia's current and emerging workforce requirements.

They use economic and labour market data to identify the occupations which are in shortage in Australia. It is anticipated that the new occupations list will be updated every year to meet the Australian skills shortage. This is specially targeted on Engineering, Telecommunication, Information Technology, Accounting and Trades, occupations which are currently in demand in Australia. The new list represents a more focused approach to the skilled migration programme, with an emphasis on high value skills that would assist in addressing Australia's future medium and long-term skills needs.

It appears that the new SOL could be interpreted as the 'new MODL' (The list of occupations that are in shortage Australia-wide) and the Governments are willing for these candidates to continue entering Australia without sponsorship. Those applicants who are not included in the new SOL may be given an opportunity to lodge their visa under the new state migration plan which is set to be a key part of the Australian General Skilled Migration (GSM) programme. State migration plans are developed by State/Territory governments and include occupations that are in demand in each individual state and territory.

Each state migration plan is approved by the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship. State Migration Plans will be released in the second half of 2010 and it is widely expected that it will include occupations outside those specified on the new SOL.

Another change that occurred recently is that for the Accountants who will apply for the Skills Assessment after July 1 will have to obtain 7 in each band in IELTS in Academic Level. This rule does not apply for applicants who wish to apply for the assessment before July 1.

Applicants who have lodged a GSM application prior to the temporary suspension of the programme on May 8 will not be affected by these changes. The system will start accepting applications from July 1 2010 under the new regime.

For further information and clarifications please contact Australian Migration Centre. Hemantha Punchihewa. MARN 0209063.

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