Flexibility in migrant rule moves

The Government has announced significant changes to the eligibility criteria that it uses to decide applications for residence from migrants under the skilled migrants category. 

Although at first glance the changes appear to make it harder for skilled migrants to qualify for residence, these changes could allow farmers greater flexibility when recruiting non-resident farm managers. 

The changes, which will be implemented mid-August 2017, include the introduction of three income thresholds. 

The first income threshold will be set at $48,859.00 a year for jobs that are currently considered skilled (a job is classed as skilled if it is listed under skill level 1, 2 or 3 in the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations ‘ANZSCO’).  If the migrant’s job is on this list, and the remuneration is at or above $48,859 per year (or $23.49 per hour), then the applicant will qualify for points for their employment.  If the job is not paid at that rate, then the applicant is not awarded any points for their employment, and the applicant will not qualify for residence. 

The second income threshold will be set at $73,299.00 a year.  If an applicant’s job is not on the ANZSCO list, but they are paid at or above $73,299 per year (or $35.24 per hour) then they can still claim points towards a skilled migrant category visa for their employment. 

The third income threshold is $97,718 per year (or $46.98 per hour).  At this level, applicants are awarded bonus points towards a skilled migrants category visa. 

How does this increase flexibility for farmers? 

To be automatically selected for a skilled migrant category visa, an applicant must be awarded at least 160 points and must be able to claim points for employment or offer of employment.  Currently, if a potential farm manager’s job description does not comply with the ANZSCO definition of a ‘Dairy Cattle Farmer’ then the applicant could not claim any points for their employment. 

The ANZSCO ‘Dairy Cattle Farmer’ definition includes tasks such as managing business capital, including budgeting, taxation, debt and loan management, and selecting training and supervising staff.  Often, farm owners will perform these functions themselves and, as a result, their farm managers would be unable to claim any points for their employment.  This requirement has traditionally made it difficult for migrant farm managers to gain residency under the skilled migrant category.

However, from mid-August 2017, even if farm owners perform these functions, their farm managers will still be able to claim points for their employment if they are paid at or above $73,299 per year.  This change allows a pathway to residence for skilled migrant farmers that might not otherwise have been available. 

In this way, the immigration system is becoming more flexible, and may assist farm owners to recruit and retain highly valued staff.   

The content of this document is necessarily general and readers should seek specific advice on particular matters and not rely solely on this document. 

If you would like more information on any of the topics in this document, please contact your usual Auld Brewer Mazengarb & McEwen adviser. 

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Sean Maskill