On February 8, 2010 the Australian government announced major changes to the General Skilled Migration Program (GSM). The GSM program allows independent applicants, who have skills in particular occupations required in Australia, to apply for Australian permanent residency without needing the sponsorship of an employer. Below is an overview of the changes to the GSM program:
- Removal of the Migration Occupation in Demand List (MODL). The MODL has been immediately revoked. All applicants filing GSM applications on or after February 8, 2010 will be required to satisfy the minimum points necessary for eligibility without accruing additional points for working in an occupation included in the MODL.
- New Skilled Occupation List (SOL). The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship is working to replace the existing SOL with an updated list that will include targeted skilled occupations that is expected to better represent the industries of Australia in need of talent. This new SOL is expected to be announced in mid-2010 and will replace the current MODL and the Critical Skills List.
- Points System. In conjunction with the new SOL, a new points system will be introduced that is expected to place an emphasis on English language abilities and sponsorship by an employer or government agency.
- Previous Filings. All pending offshore GSM applications filed before September 1, 2007 and still awaiting decision will be capped, and any cases beyond the number determined by the Minister will be returned to the applicant and the visa application charge will be returned.
- Priority Processing Schedule. The Priority Processing Schedule will now make Employer Sponsored residency applications the first priority of the Australian government.