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457 visas after July 1 - forced skills assessments leave Australian employers in the lurch

457 visas after July 1 - forced skills assessments leave Australian employers in the lurch

Across the country, migration agents have been desperately trying to get their heads around the Department of Immigration and Citizenship's (DIAC) latest round of changes.

The new IELTS rules are causing a whole bunch of problems, but they're just the tip of the iceberg.

Migration Alliance has also been receiving feedback from Australian migration agents about the new laws pertaining to skill assessments.

Before July 1, TRA-approved skills assessments for 457 immigration visas in certain trade occupations (e.g. chefs or hairdressers) for particular countries (e.g. India, China, South Africa, Thailand and the Philippines) had to be formally announced by the minister.

However, it seems the minister has created new Procedure Advice Manuals (PAMs) that do not announce any changes to skills assessment requirements for some 457-approved occupations - in particular, for the positions of Project or Program Administrator and Specialist Managers NEC.

These PAMs refer to these two occupations as "generalist" - but there is no mention of these "generalist" occupations in the legislation that underpins the PAMs. One of our migration consultants has also pointed out that there is "no corresponding Gazette notice in relation to these two occupations".

In fact, the migration agent says, there is no definition of "generalist" anywhere.

They demonstrate that there are three different "versions" of information explaining how skills assessments for "generalist" occupations work - so it's difficult to know exactly where to turn.

The DIAC website, current 457 legislation and all relevant PAMs each have a slightly different story to tell.

Our source concludes that migration agents in Australia cannot find any legislation or a Gazetted Notice specifically stating that Project or Program Administrator and Specialist Managers NEC require skills assessments.

The new rules could mean that businesses wishing to sponsor skilled migrant workers to fill management positions or work on priority projects will have to wait an extra three months, as VETASSESS can take at least this long to process a skills assessment application.

This migration agent also wonders why skills assessments that are designed for those seeking permanent residency are now being "forced" on those applying for temporary 457 visas.

Those wanting to live and work in Australia, our source says, would much rather migrate permanently using the ENS or RSMS programs if they're going to have to undergo a skills assessment anyway.

Are the new skills assessment rules merely a "blocking tool" aimed at preventing more workers entering the country on 457 visas?

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