System Message:

Changes cause issues for migration agents

Changes cause issues for migration agents

Australian migration agents have been coming to terms with the wave of changes that the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) introduced on July 1.

Issues have started to arise, as a recent episode brought to the attention of Migration Alliance demonstrates.

A migration agent lodged a nomination and 457 visa application in May. The nomination was approved by the DIAC in June, and the visa application was also assessed during this month.

However, the agent was recently contacted by their case manager, who requested the applicant provide evidence showing International English Language Testing System (IELTS) results of five on each band.

The test has been designed to assess the English language abilities of those applying for 457 immigration visas.

It involves an academic test and a "general training" test. Most applicants only need to take the latter test, unless they are informed otherwise by a registration or licensing body.

The case manager said that all 457 visa applicants are required to demonstrate they have vocational English. They said that this requirement was applicable to all undecided visa applications as of July 1 2013.

This migration agent said they were "thoroughly disappointed" at such an "unfair regulation".

They said it is "unheard of" that a newly introduced regulation should affect an application that was lodged in the past, and that there was no transitional arrangement or any consideration for the merits of the case lodged before the changes came into effect on July 1.

Another migration agent has since revealed that these changes are applicable to Schedule 2 of the Migration Legislation Amendment Regulation 2013, under the "at the time of decision" criteria.

They think the IELTS requirement of "five band" isn't completely unreasonable, but it will mean "big business" for the IELTS test centres moving forward.

This agent also reminded all other migration agents in Australia that an employer can offer a salary of $96,400 or above if they would like the English language requirements for a skilled migrant worker to be waived.

This salary threshold is also new as of July 1. Like the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT), the the English Language Salary Exemption Threshold (ELSET) has been indexed by 4.8 per cent. It was previously $92,000.

The DIAC states that this hike is "in line" with an Australia-wide increase in median weekly earnings.

All registered migration agents should stay vigilant in the coming weeks and months when helping clients and applying for visas.

Joomla SEF URLs by Artio