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Australia Changes to the General Skilled Migration Program.

Professional Year Evaluation 2012.

In 2011-12, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship will be undertaking an evaluation of the Professional Year program. The Professional Year has been in operation since 2008 and is a structured development program, available to Engineers, Accountants and IT Professionals. The Professional Year may assist graduates to find employment and provides 5 points towards meeting the Points Based Skilled Migration pass mark.

The evaluation will assess if the Professional Year is achieving its original objectives and also identify potential improvements to the program. The evaluation is intended to be an open and transparent process. All key stakeholders who are involved in, or affected by the evaluation, including students and ex-students, will be given the opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way.

Current and past Professional Year students will be requested to complete a survey which collects basic demographic information and seeks specific input regarding each individual's Professional Year. This information will contribute to a discussion paper which we expect will be complete in early 2012.

All responses are anonymous, and have no bearing on the outcomes of any current or future visa applications or other dealings with the department.


General Skilled Migration program (GSM) was introduced with hew amendments in the year 2007.

Changes will include:

increasing the English language threshold for GSM visa applicants
rewarding GSM visa applicants who have very good English language proficiency
greater emphasis on skilled work experience
introduction of a new temporary work visa for graduates
simplifying the GSM visa structure.

The threshold level of English language proficiency will be raised from an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score of 5 (vocational) to 6 (competent) on all four components. However, applicants applying for trade occupations will be required to meet the current threshold of an IELTS score of 5.

Under the points test system, bonus points will be given to applicants who achieve English language scores above the threshold level and additional points will be allocated for skilled work experience in Australia.

Note: Migration Occupation in Demand List (MODL) points will only be awarded to applicants with at least 12 months experience in their nominated occupation or one that is closely related.

To ensure skilled migrants have the skills Australian employers need, there will be tighter requirements on links between study, work experience and nominated occupation.

International students who are unable to meet the new requirements for a permanent skilled visa will have an opportunity to apply for an 18 month Skilled-Graduate (subclass 485) to build on their skills and work experience. This visa will have unrestricted work rights.

The changes aim to ensure that overseas students who decide to stay on in Australia after completing their studies have a much better chance of competing for jobs in their chosen vocation.

There are currently 15 GSM visa subclasses available to people onshore and offshore, who are wishing to apply to migrate to Australia. Under the new visa structure, this will be reduced to nine visa subclasses - four offshore and five onshore. This new structure enables applicants to more easily identify the visa subclass best suited to their circumstances.

Visa class/subclass before
1 July 2011
1 July 2011
Skilled (Migrant) (Class VE) Independent subclass 175 visas 120 65
Skilled (Migrant) (Class VE) Sponsored subclass 176 visas 100 65
Skilled (Provisional) (Class VC) Regional – Sponsored subclass 487 visas 100 65
Skilled (Provisional) (Class VF) Regional – Sponsored subclass 475 visas 100 65
Skilled (Residence) (Class VB) Independent subclass 885 visas 120 65
Skilled (Residence) (Class VB) Sponsored subclass 886 visas 100 65


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