Newsletter 184

Secondary applicants for Pacific Australia Labour Mobility Scheme SC 403 Temporary Work (International Relations). 

It’s an inaugural program, initially restricted to 200 families for the 2023-2024 fiscal year.

For any PALM stream secondary applicant aged 18 and above, the Visa Application Charge (VAC) is set at $335 (AUD), while for those under 18, it stands at $80 (AUD). The VAC for the primary applicant remains unchanged at AUD$335.

In line with the Government’s decision to transfer the management of the PALM scheme to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR), the Amendment Regulations eliminate all mentions of ‘Foreign Affairs’ in schedules 1, 2, and 8, substituting them with ‘a department responsible for administering the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility scheme’. This amendment safeguards the legislation against potential future changes in government administrative arrangements.

This becomes effective on March 25, 2024.

  • Changes to Schedules 1 and 2 of the Migration Regulations are applicable to visa applications submitted on or after March 25, 2024.
  • Amendments to Schedule 8 of the Migration Regulations are applicable to visas granted on or after March 25, 2024. These amendments solely acknowledge the administration of the PALM scheme by both DFAT and DEWR, without introducing any substantive alterations.

Increased English Language test scores for Student visas.  

Test name  Minimum test score   Principal course accompanied by 10 weeks ELICOS/  standard foundation program/extended foundation program/  eligible pathway program  Principal course accompanied by at least 20 weeks ELICOS   
 International English Language Testing System (IELTS)  Overall band score 5.5 /Overall band score 6.0    Overall band score 5.0 /Overall band score 5.5  Overall band score 4.5 /Overall band score 5.0 
 Cambridge English: Advanced test (CAE)**  162   / 169   154 / 162   147 / 154 
 Occupational English Test (OET)  A score of at least B for each component    a score of at least B for each test component   a score of at least B for each test component 
 Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE)   42 / 50   36 / 42   30 / 36 
 Test of English as a Foreign Language internet-based test (TOEFL iBT) *    46 / 64   35 / 46   32 / 35 

*Starting from July 26, 2023, the TOEFL internet-based test (TOEFL iBT) ceased providing English language assessments for Australian visa applications. Any TOEFL iBT test taken on or after this date will no longer fulfill the English language requirement for Student visa applications. Only TOEFL iBT scores obtained from tests taken prior to July 26, 2023, are considered valid for Student visa purposes.

**Effective February 12, 2024, only scores from the paper-based Cambridge C1 Advanced test (formerly known as Cambridge English: Advanced CAE) will be accepted for Australian visa and migration applications. However, scores from both paper-based and computer-based C1 Advanced tests, taken before February 12, 2024, within their validity period, remain acceptable.

This regulation comes into effect on March 23, 2024, and applies to Student (SC 500) visa applications lodged on or after this date.

Suspending Education Providers – Relevant score and Suspension Certificate Method relevant score

This amendment to the Migration Regulations 1994 introduces a new Regulation 1.29, empowering the Minister to consider a registered provider’s relevant score when deciding whether to issue a suspension certificate under section 97 of the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act 2000.

Under Regulation 1.29(3), the Minister is authorized to create a legislative instrument outlining the method for determining a relevant score for a registered provider, its validity period, and the frequency of score calculation.

Additionally, Regulation 1.29(4) outlines non-exhaustive factors to consider when determining the relevant score, including matters pertaining to overseas students associated with the provider or its affiliates, and events occurring within a specific timeframe, whether preceding or succeeding March 23, 2024.

This further specifies the method for calculating the score, its validity duration, and the frequency of assessment for registered providers as per Regulation 1.29(3).

Subsection 5(1) of the Instrument delineates factors to be considered when determining the score, including decisions on student visa applications, cancellations of student visas, refusals based on Public Interest Criterion 4020, presence of unlawful non-citizens enrolled at the provider, cessation of student visas, and applications for protection visas.

Subsection 5(2) specifies that references to student visas and primary applicants for such visas pertain only to overseas students or intending overseas students.

Subsection 6(a) and (b) mandates that the relevant score be calculated twice yearly—once between January 1 and June 30, and again between July 1 and December 31—starting from the instrument’s commencement date.

Section 7 sets forth the validity period of a relevant score, commencing upon Department notification to the provider and ending either after 6 months or upon notification of a subsequent score, irrespective of its similarity to the initial score.

This regulation came into effect on March 23, 2024.

Legislative Bills Update

The Administrative Review Tribunal Bill 2024 establishes the Administrative Review Tribunal, replacing the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, and reinstates the Administrative Review Council. This bill was approved by the Lower House on March 21, 2024.

The Administrative Review Tribunal (Consequential and Transitional Provisions No. 1) Bill 2024 abolishes the Administrative Appeals Tribunal by repealing the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975 and adjusts 138 Acts in alignment with the establishment of the Administrative Review Tribunal. This bill also passed the Lower House on March 21, 2024.

The Administrative Review Tribunal (Consequential and Transitional Provisions No. 2) Bill 2024, consequential to the Administrative Review Tribunal Bill 2023 and Administrative Review Tribunal (Consequential and Transitional Provisions No. 1) Bill 2023, amends 110 Acts to update specific references. It was also approved by the Lower House on March 21, 2024.

Further details and tracking of these bills can be found on the Australian Parliament House website for members’ reference.

Strengthening Quality and Integrity in Vocational Education and Training  

The amendments to the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act 2011 are aimed at addressing issues of integrity and quality within the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector, as highlighted by various reviews including the Nixon review. This legislation empowers the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) to swiftly address and eliminate non-genuine or unethical Registered Training Organisations (RTOs), subjecting new entrants to greater scrutiny, and enhancing penalties for serious breaches of the Act. Having been approved by both houses on March 21, 2024, the Bill is pending assent before it becomes effective. Members can access additional information regarding this legislation on the Australian Parliament House website.

Genuine Student requirement 

The Department has recently updated its website to incorporate details regarding the genuine student requirement, effective from March 23, 2024. The website offers an outline of the GS requirement along with guidance on the necessary evidence and information to include in the application.

Regarding the assessment of the GS requirement, the Department’s website outlines the following factors:

  • The applicant’s circumstances.
  • Immigration history
  • Adherence to visa conditions and any other pertinent factors

This criterion recognizes the availability of post-study pathways for eligible individuals.

For further details, members are encouraged to consult the Genuine Student webpage on the Department’s website.

Core Skills Occupation List – JSA draft and consultation.

Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA) has initiated consultations regarding the development of the new Core Skills Occupation List (CSOL).

The Migration Strategy outlines three visa pathways:

  • Specialist Skills pathway (with salaries exceeding $135,000)
  • Core Skills pathway.
  • Skills in Demand pathway (with salaries below $70,000).

The current JSA consultation specifically addresses the Core Skills pathway for occupations with median salaries above $70,000 and below $135,000. The draft list is compiled based on labor market analysis of ANZSCO Skill Level 1-3 occupations, which means that certain occupations from other salary brackets might also be included. However, the handling of this in the visa regulations is yet to be clarified.

JSA has developed the draft lists using the 2022 version of ANZSCO rather than the 2013 version, aiming to encompass new and emerging occupations. Additionally, the most recent employment and labor market datasets have been utilized.

It’s important to note that the draft list is subject to further refinement through surveys, submissions, bilateral meetings, and qualitative analysis, with a submission deadline of May 10, 2024. Details of the consultation process are available on the JSA website, where three lists are presented:

  • Occupations anticipated to be included on the new Core Skills list.
  • Occupations anticipated not to be included on the Core Skills list.
  • Occupations requiring further targeted consultation.

VETASSESS connecting skilled Indian hospitality workers with Australian industry. 

VETASSESS has entered into a memorandum of understanding with Tourism Training Australia (TTA) and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) to establish a more efficient skilled migration pathway facilitating the recruitment of skilled hospitality professionals from India for Australian employers.

Under this agreement, VETASSESS will serve as the assessing authority, responsible for handling inquiries, conducting assessments, and facilitating communication to evaluate the skills and work experience of Indian applicants seeking employment in Australia’s hospitality sector.

Tourism Training Australia will operate a job portal to connect employers with potential employees, while the CII will be responsible for sourcing skilled hospitality workers from India and overseeing the onboarding and processing procedures to support these workers in their visa applications.

For additional details, members are encouraged to visit the VETASSESS website.

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