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Australia's new Skilled Occupation List (SOL) for General Skilled Migration (GSM)

The contents of this article are correct as at 1 June 2010.

This article will discuss the new Skilled Occupation List and set out below examples of how applicants may be affected.

What is the new Skilled Occupation List?

DIAC has announced a new Skilled Occupation List (New SOL) for General Skilled Migration (GSM).

The New SOL identifies skilled occupations of high value to the economy that align with the broader national workforce development strategy.

The new list is available on the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s (DIAC) website at: New List of Skilled Occupations Intended To Replace The Current Skilled Occupation List.
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It is intended the New SOL will come into effect on 1 July 2010.

The New SOL may be updated annually, and would change in accordance with the needs of the Australian labour market. There is no guarantee how long a particular occupation will remain on the New SOL. The New SOL will be reviewed annually but it is expected that it will be relatively stable over time.

The New SOL comprises 181 occupations. The Old SOL had 408.

The New SOL is based on ANZSCO (Australian & New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations) and not ASCO (Australian Standard Classification of Occupations).

The Old SOL was based on the ASCO.

The New SOL does not apply to non-General Skilled Migration visas, such as the Employer Nominated Scheme (ENS), Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) or Subclass 457. The range of skilled occupations in which employers can sponsor workers has not been changed. These occupations are available on the Employer Nomination Scheme Occupation List (ENSOL).


Who will not be affected by the New SOL?

  • Any pending GSM visa applications lodged before the New SOL came into effect will not be affected by this change.
  • If an applicant meets the requirements for an onshore GSM visa (eg 485, 885 and 886) and lodges an application before the new SOL comes into effect, the applicant will not be affected by this change.
  • The New SOL does not apply to GSM applicants who, on 8 February 2010:
    • Held a Subclass 485 (skilled graduate) visa or had a pending subclass 485 visa application; and who
    • Apply for a permanent or provisional onshore GSM visa by 31 December 2012 or at the date of the announcement had a pending GSM visa application
  • The New SOL is not intended to apply to international students who on 8 February 2010 held a:
    • Subclass 572 (vocational education and training sector) visa; 
    • Subclass 573 (higher education sector) visa; or
    • Subclass 574 (postgraduate research sector) visa; and
They apply for a subclass 485 (skilled graduate) visa before 31 December 2012.


Examples of how the New SOL may apply, and possible solutions for those who are affected by the new SOL

Example 1 – person eligible under New SOL

  • Person completes a Bachelor degree at an Australian University after 1 July 2010 (meets 2 year study rule)
  • Person is assessed as an Accountant, which is on the New SOL
  • Person meets all other GSM criteria (eg English, any points test, Australian studies requirement, health, character) and applies for permanent residency under GSM


Example 2 – person eligible under New SOL

  • Person (whether in or outside Australia):
    • Did not hold a student visa on 8 February 2010; and
    • Does not complete Australian studies (ie does not meet 2 years study rule); but
    • Has qualifications from overseas and work experience.
  • Person’s occupation is on the New SOL
  • Person meets all other GSM criteria (eg any points test, work experience, English, health, character) and applies for permanent residency under GSM


Example 3 – person affected by New SOL

  • Person held student visa on 8 February 2010 and completes a Bachelor degree at an Australian University after 1 July 2010 (meets 2 years study rule);
  • Person’s occupation is not on the New SOL;
  • Person’s occupation is on the Old SOL;
  • Person meets all other GSM criteria (eg English, Australian studies requirement, health, character) and applies for a 485 visa under GSM;
  • Person’s pathway to permanent residency while on a 485 visa is dependent on:
    • Their occupation being listed, at some stage, on the New SOL; or
    • Applying for permanent residency through Employer Sponsorship schemes under ENS or RSMS. This may also require obtaining a temporary sponsored business (work) subclass 457 visa first, depending on circumstances; or
    • Applying for permanent residency through State/Territory sponsorship; or
    • Applying for a partner visa – an Australian partner is required (eg married spouse, defacto or same sex)

Example 4 – person not eligible under New SOL

  • Person (whether in or outside Australia) did not hold a student visa on 8 February 2010 and completes a Bachelor degree at an Australian University after 1 July 2010 (meets 2 years study rule).
  • Person’s occupation is not on the New SOL.
  • Person’s pathways to remain in Australia include:
    • Applying for permanent residency through Employer Sponsorship schemes under ENS or RSMS. This may also require obtaining a temporary sponsored business (work) subclass 457 visa first, depending on circumstances; or
    • Applying for permanent residency through state/territory sponsorship; or
    • Applying for a partner visa – an Australian partner is required (eg married spouse, defacto or same sex)


Example 5 – person not eligible under New SOL

  • Person (whether in or outside Australia):
    • Did not hold a student visa on 8 February 2010; and
    • Does not complete Australian studies (ie does not meet 2 years study rule); but
    • Has qualifications from overseas and work experience.
  • Person’s occupation is not on the New SOL.
  • Person’s pathways to migrate to Australia include:
    • Applying for permanent residency through Employer Sponsorship schemes under ENS or RSMS. This may also require obtaining a temporary sponsored business (work) subclass 457 visa first, depending on circumstances; or
    • Applying for permanent residency through state/territory sponsorship; or
    • Applying for a partner visa – an Australian partner is required (eg married spouse, defacto or same sex).


Conclusion

There is no doubt that the GSM scheme will become tougher and more complex after 1 July 2010, and prospective applicants need to consider various immigration pathways and strategies.

We will provide further information and update our website on GSM as soon as the new laws become available.

If you have enquiries concerning the New SOL or other migration pathways please click this link to contact Visa Lawyers Australia.