The return of cooking, hairdressing and sixteen other occupations to the State Skilled Nomination Occupations List (SNOL) earlier this month came as welcome news to many prospective visa applicants.

The two popular trade-based occupations were stricken from the list in 2010, after a government crackdown on the high level of program rorting that was present within the system. However due to significant policy changes that have taken place since the occupations’ removal, is their reinstatement really all that beneficial?

As some applicants may be aware, in order to be eligible to receive a state-nominated skilled visa there are a number of criterion that an applicant must first be able to fulfil. Of these requirements, the most common are:

* An age restriction (< 50 years)

* An acceptable level of English (IELTS or OETS, level depends on occupation nominated)

* A sufficient level of work experience, and

* A positive Skills Assessment

The last of these requirements in particular is proving to be the most difficult for applicants to satisfy, a result of the competing needs of both the State government and the skills assessing authority, Trade Recognition Australia, which handles the assessments.

Currently migrants are only able to obtain a full Skills Assessment from the TRA through one of two ways:

1) Completion of Trade Recognition Australia’s (TRA) Job Ready Program, a four-step employment-based skills assessment program which requires migrants to complete 12 months of full-time work under the supervision of a qualified Australian tradesperson working within the nominated occupation, and who is registered with the TRA.

2) Alternatively, a migrant can complete three years of full-time paid employment in Australia outside of the Job Ready Program, so long as it is consistent with the required skill level and within the nominated occupation. At least one of these years of experience must also have been conducted within three years prior to lodgement of the application.

How is this a problem?

The combination of two major changes that took place in 2010 are what is now causing severe difficulty for recent graduates hopeful of gaining permanent residency and working in Australia.

The first of these is the government’s removal of trade-based occupations, such as cooking and hairdressing, from the Federal Skilled Occupations List (SOL) in 2010, which has left students unable to apply for a Subclass 485 Temporary Graduate visa after the completion of their studies.

The second is the TRA’s changing of their work experience requirements from 900 hours to one-year of mandatory full-time post study work experience, preventing students from completing this requirement on a part-time basis over the course of (or as part of) their studies.

What this means is that graduates must now be able to work full-time (within their nominated occupation and at the required skill level) for a minimum of one year in order to receive a Skills Assessment, but are not able to apply for the Graduate visa that would allow them to do so.

In short, the changes have created a catch 22 scenario; students need experience to obtain a visa, but first need a visa to gain the necessary experience.

Is there anything I can do about it?

After direct correspondence with the TRA, Migration Solutions have learned of a small number of employer-sponsored visa options for students with favourable circumstances that may enable them to remain in Australia and complete the necessary requirements – namely a Subclass 457 Temporary Work visa, or 402 Training and Research visa. Anyone interested in learning more about these options are encouraged to contact our office and arrange a consultation with one of our registered migration agents to discuss whether these might visa options might be a possibility for you.

For applicants that already possess a full Skills Assessment that was completed prior to 2010, the news is much better. The Assessments will still be valid for those that wish to apply for a state-nominated skilled visa, and providing all the other eligibility requirements are met, will enable you to receive a permanent residency visa to live and work in South Australia.

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