Cherie Wright, Senior Associate, Fragomen, Sydney
How does SkillSelect work?
The Skilled Migrant Selection Model is a new, two-stage visa application process where prospective applicants must first submit an online Expression of Interest (EoI) through DIAC’s SkillSelect website. This EOI will contain information regarding an individual’s qualifications, work experience, professional memberships, English language ability and geographical preferences.
On the basis of this information, SkillSelect will rank candidates according to a notional score achieved through a points test. In the case of prospective GSM visa applicants, invitations will then be issued to the highest ranking individuals in each occupational category during each invitation round, which is expected to be monthly. An occupation ceiling will be imposed allowing DIAC to manage the number of invitations issued for a particular occupational group.
How can employers use SkillSelect?
Individual employers will have access to the SkillSelect database and will be able to conduct a search according to the skill related attributes of candidates, with a view to offering them employment and/or sponsoring them for a temporary or permanent employer sponsored visa, such as a 457 visa or the new employer nominated permanent residence visa subclasses 186 and 187. By accessing candidates directly, employers could significantly reduce the costs associated with advertising and recruitment.
Another benefit is that employers will have access to a pool of skilled workers who have already had their skill related attributes assessed, their qualifications and work experience recognised, and their English language skills verified.
SkillSelect will allow candidates to indicate their geographical preferences. Consequently, employers will be able to search for individuals who have indicated a willingness to work and live outside capital cities.
In addition to grounds for visa refusal, serious criminal and administrative penalties will apply for any individual who submits false or misleading information to DIAC, including in their EOI.
Employers will need an AUSKey to securely access SkillSelect, which can be obtained from the Australian Business Register website www.auskey.abr.gov.au. Fragomen can assist by reviewing the EOIs of potential candidates to ensure visa eligibility and any subsequent visa applications.
SkillSelect and changes to the Business Skills program
In conjunction with reforms to the employer nominated and GSM visas, from 1 July 2012 the Government will replace the Business Skills program with the ‘Business Innovation and Investment program’ designed to increase entrepreneurial talent and diversify business expertise in Australia.
As a continuation of the Government’s simplification and deregulation plan, the number of visa subclasses under the program will be reduced from thirteen to three, each encompassing several eligibility ‘streams’:
Business Talent (Permanent) (subclass 132) - venture capital entrepreneur or significant business history stream.
Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) (subclass 188) - business innovation or investor stream.
Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent) (subclass 888) - business innovation or investor stream.
Expansion of the Business Talent (Permanent) (subclass 132) visa
The Business Talent visa is a permanent visa targeting high calibre business migrants and will be comprised of two streams; the significant business history stream and the venture capital entrepreneur.
The significant history stream will maintain much of the same visa criteria that applies to business owners under the existing Business Talent visa, namely net assets of at least AUD1.5 million and a business turnover of at least AUD3 million. However from 1 July 2012, a new visa stream will be introduced, the venture capital entrepreneur, intended forentrepreneurs that have sourced venture capital funding of at least AUD1 million from a member of the Australian Venture Capital Association Limited.
The Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) (subclass 188) visa
With the exception of those of high calibre business owners and entrepreneurs who can apply directly for permanent residence via the Business Talent visa, all prospective business migrants will have to follow a two-stage visa application process.
Applicants must first apply for a provisional (subclass 188) visa which allows the applicant to enter and remain in Australia for a four-year period to establish/enter into a business in Australia or to make a designated investment. Under the business innovation stream, a business owner can lodge an application for a permanent (subclass 888) visa after he or she has resided for a minimum period of two years in Australia as the holder of a provisional subclass 188 visa. For the investmentstream, the permanent residence visa can only be applied for once the individual has held a designated investment for at least four years in the nominating State or Territory.
Similar to the GSM category, prospective applicants for a Business Talent or provisional Business Innovation and Investment visa must firstly submit an EOI via SkillSelect. This will include details of their proposed business activities in Australia and in the case of the provisional Business Innovation and Investment visa, their ability to meet the prescribed points test. State or Territory governments will then identify skilled business people or investors they wish to invite to make an appropriate visa application.
The innovation points test
A new points test will apply to the Provisional (subclass 188) visa based on attributes such as age, English language ability, qualifications, experience in business or investment, net assets, business turnover and innovation (for example, registered patents, designs or trademarks, joint venture agreements, export trade and receipt of grants or venture capital funding). Net business and personal asset thresholds have also been increased to AUD800,000 in the case of the business innovation stream and AUD2.25 million for the investor stream.
The ‘Significant Investor’ visa
Finally, in a joint media release with the Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation, Bill Shorten MP, Immigration Minister Bowen also announced the creation of anew Significant Investor visa.
The Significant Investor visa will be available for high net-worth business people who invest at least AUD5 million in Australia in either State or Territory bonds, Australian Security Investment Commission regulated managed funds with a mandate for investing in Australia and/or direct investment in Australian companies. In recognition of their significant investment in Australia, Significant Investor visa applicants will receive concessional treatment in respect of visa requirements including not having to meet a points test and reduced residence requirements.
The Significant Investor visa is expected to be introduced sometime in the 2012-2013 program year.
For further information on these changes, please contact Cherie Wright, Senior Associate via phone on +61 2 8224 8572 or email email@example.com.
Centre for International Employment and Migration (CENTIEM) – a Fragomen initiative and business unit within Fragomen Australia www.centiem.com