JULY CHANGES 2021
2 Jul 2021
July is a very important month. It is the beginning of the Australian financial year and the time that the Australian budget is announced. Besides increases to the visa application charges, this announcement also includes the Australian Government’s annual planning levels for its migration program. This sets the benchmark for the maximum number of visas that can be allocated for each migration category by the Department of Immigration and Home Affairs (DHA) for the coming financial year. In turn, the DHA then allocate quotas for the State/Territory Governments for their skilled State nominated and business visa programs. The States are then able to publish their State migration programs for the rest of the financial year. July has also, generally, been the time that the Australian skilled migration lists are updated. Below we summarise this year's changes and how they could affect prospective migrants.
Applicant Fee Increases
The Department of Home Affairs has recently passed legislation to increase a number of visa application charges (VACs) by 1.75% (rounded to the nearest $5), to be implemented on the 1st of July 2021.Most Business Innovation and Investment Program (BIIP) VACs are being increased by 11.345% + the 1.75%. We can confirm that the new fees are now listed on the DHA website and can be checked by clicking here:
Citizenship application fees have also increased for the first time in several years and have almost doubled. These have increased from $285 to $490 for conferral applicants.
AAT and Federal Circuit Court fees have also increased as of 1st of July.
Skilled List Changes
Ironically, on the 22nd of June - the Minister of Immigration Alex Hawke announce the addition of 22 new occupations to the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL) bringing the total list of priority occupations to 41. The 41 occupations that form the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL) identify specific skills and occupations that are critical to support Australia’s economic recovery from COVID-19.
Other than the PMSOL changes we have not seen any other changes to the Australian skill occupations lists, and we don’t expect to see one in the near future based on comments made by Mr Hawke MP in which he said: “ All other skilled occupation lists will remain active, but the PMSOL occupations will take priority.”
New Planning levels have been published for this program year 2021-22. The figures have been recycled and there is effectively no change, so we can expect a very similar program year to last year. These can be viewed by clicking here:
State Government State Migration Plans (SMPs)
From the link above you will see that State Governments have received their allocations so there should be less of a delay in the various State Migration plan openings this year. The allocation quotas are similar to last year but coupled with the ongoing border closures it is not good news for overseas applicants. We expect that last year’s directive, from DHA to States/Territories, to put onshore applicants first will remain in place this year given the status quo.
Victoria opened their State Nomination program on 1st July but it is closed to overseas applicants. This year's SMP will only consider applicants living and working in Victoria who are in STEMM target sectors.
South Australia’s SMP closed in late June and is yet to open in the new program year, The new program will open from the 19th July, but we expect it will be closed to overseas applicants.
Queensland the program is closed and new nomination criteria are being finalised and will be available towards the end of July.
We are yet to see an update from Western Australia. It is therefore hard to tell if the program is, in fact, open or closed. If last year’s program is being recycled, then overseas applicants could be excluded for another year.
Tasmania’s SMP closed in mid-June and is yet to open in the new program year, but we expect it will be closed to overseas applicants.
Australian Capital Territory looks open and has published an invitation round on the 1st of July, with the next one being 14th July, however, this program is exclusively for onshore applicants at present (according to their May 2021 guidelines).
New South Wales seems to have no change to their SMP since April 2021 - perhaps we can expect a list update to encompass the new PMSOL list and a few eligibility tweaks but we expect the residency requirement that excludes overseas applicants to remain.
Northern Territory is closed to offshore applicants until borders remain closed, however, they still accepting new applications from onshore applicants and will continue to process applications currently in the system that meet the eligibility criteria.
Business Visa Changes
Australia has condensed the subclass 188 business visa sub categories and have removed the subclass 132 visa. Some requirements remain the same but new eligibility requirements have been introduced to qualify for the following Business Visas from 1 July 2021:
Business Owner – Business Innovation Stream. For business-persons with a range of business skills who want to establish, develop and manage a new or existing business in Australia. The annual turnover requirement for at least two of the past four financial years has been increased to AUD $750,000 per annum. Previously the requirement was AUD $500,000 per annum. Additionally, successful applicants will need to invest AUD $1,250,000 within the first 2 years of the visa grant. Previously the requirement was AUD $800,000.
Business Investor – Business Investor Stream. For Investors who want to make a specified investment in the Australian economy and maintain business and investment activities in Australia.
The new requirement is to evidence of managing investments of at least AUD $2,500,000 whereas the previous requirement was AUD $1,500,000. Also, there is a requirement to have personal assets worth at least AUD $2,500,000. Previously this level was set at AUD $2,250,000.
Changes to the e-Medical
We have noticed a small change to the e-Medical process that we expect to be for paper based applications. From 1st July 2021, clients will be able to provide a preferred email address to be used by the Department for further correspondence, in order to finalise immigration medical examination(s).
Department of Home Affairs (and Immigration) have expanded their credit card fraud prevention solution
From 1st July 2021, additional card security functionality will be applied to cards issued by banks in the following countries:
• New Zealand
• United Kingdom
• United States
“You must enter the address of the cardholder into the payment screen in ImmiAccount, plus cardholders may have to complete a security challenge to authorise the payment.
The bank may:
• send a security authentication code to cardholder's registered telephone number
• send a verification link or security authentication code to the cardholder's registered email address
The bank may also decline the payment transaction. If this occurs the cardholder must contact their bank and advise that the Department is using 3-D Secure to authenticate payments.
If you are using someone else's card to make a payment, you must have their permission. The cardholder must be present or able to be contacted in case their bank sends them an authentication challenge.”