On the first of July the Australian Government will be introducing a new points test for skilled migration visa applications.
The new points test is likely to make it more difficult for international students to gain a skilled migration visa as it emphasises ‘high level qualifications, better English language levels and extensive skilled work experience’.
While visa applicants who have studied in Australia (particularly in regional areas) are likely to benefit from points awarded for completing Australian study, greater levels of work experience are required and it has become more difficult to gain points for English proficiency.
While the outgoing points test awarded 15 points for competent English (IELTS 6 minimum), the new test does not award any points for meeting this level of proficiency.
Another key change to the new points system is that points are no longer awarded on the basis of an applicant’s occupation as it is deemed to meet Australia’s workforce needs; the new test focuses on the applicant’s qualification level and work experience.
The new test will apply to applications made from 1 July 2011, unless the applicant is eligible for transitional arrangements.
The new points test will apply to the following visas:
- 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.
- Points will no longer be awarded on the basis of an applicant’s occupation; the new test focuses on the applicant’s qualification level, age and years of work experience (Australian work experience is awarded more points).
- Points will still be awarded for study in Australia, knowledge of community languages, partner’s skills and completing an approved Professional Year.
- The pass mark will be set at 65 points.
- The minimum English language requirement is an IELTS test score of 6 (classified as competent English) in each of the four IELTS components (speaking, reading, writing and listening), although no points will be awarded for this score. Ten points will be awarded to those who achieve IELTS 7 (proficient English) and 20 points for IELTS 8 (superior English).
- Applicants who have studied in Australia for a minimum of two years will be eligible for five points under the new points test, with an additional five points awarded for regional study.
- In regards to academic qualification levels, applicants who complete a masters degree after their bachelor degree will not be awarded extra points.Bachelor degree, honours and masters students are awarded 15 points; the next highest academic qualification recognised by the test is the PhD, which is awarded 20 points.
- If you don’t pass the new points test you may want to consider your eligibility to apply for an alternative migration option, such as the Employer Nomination Scheme or Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme.