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Skilled Occupation List for Australia 2020

The Australian Government has, for many years, focused on attracting workers with the skills needed to build and sustain the economy. The Australian immigration authorities manage this through regularly updating their Skilled Occupation List (SOL) to ensure that any existing or foreseen gaps in skill availability in the country are actively filled with migrants from overseas. The SOL lists all of the occupations Australia needs to fill skill shortages.

There are several Australian work visa categories which require applicants to have a role on the SOL, these include:

  • Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa (subclass 186)
  • Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) visa (subclass 187) *
  • Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189) – Points-tested stream
  • Skilled Nominated visa (subclass 190)
  • Skilled Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 489)
  • Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 491)
  • Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (provisional) visa (subclass 494)
  • Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa (subclass 482)
  • Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485) – Graduate Work
  • Training visa (subclass 407)

As you can see, this encompasses not only visas for permanent roles in Australia, but it also includes temporary and training posts.

Understanding the Different Shortage Occupation Lists

The SOL is effectively made up of three separate lists, each serving different purposes in terms of skilled worker migration to Australia; these are as follows:

  • Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL)
  • Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL)
  • Regional Occupation List (ROL) or the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) ROL List.

The MLTSSL contains around 200 technical and professional roles, including occupations such as accountant, actuary, aeronautical engineer, analyst programmers, and architects. The STSOL is different from the MLTSSL and includes hospitality managers, bakers, butchers, careers counsellors, and diving instructors. The ROL is designed to focus on the needs of the regional areas of Australia and includes roles such as dairy cattle farmers, cotton growers, conservation officers, cattle farmers, and pilots.

When searching in the full SOL list, you will see which roles apply to your visa type in the visa column. For example, the role of Computer Network and Systems Engineer is included on the list as part of the MLTSSL and includes visa subclasses 186, 189 (PT), 190, 407, 485 (GW),489 (F), 491 (S/T), TSS (M), 494. A crop farmer, on the other hand, is on the regional list and is for visas under subclass 482 (ROL), 187, 407, 494. A dance teacher is on the short-term list is for the 190, 407, 491 (S/T), TSS (S) subclasses.

Assessing Authorities

Each SOL contains the relevant ‘assessing authority’ for each occupation. When applying for a work visa for Australia, you will need to have a skills assessment undertaken by the relevant skills assessing authority for your occupation. The skills assessing authority will check your skills against the standards laid down by the Australian Government’s Department of Home Affairs for your specific occupation type. The assessing authorities include organisations such as:

  • Engineers Australia
  • Vet Assess
  • MedBA
  • Australian Computing Society (ACS)
  • Australian Community Workers Association (ACWA)

As the Australian immigration rules state, “Most occupations in each list have their own skills assessing authority. We can only accept a skills assessment issued by the relevant assessing authority. It is your responsibility to contact the relevant assessing authority for your occupation and obtain a skills assessment, if required. Each assessing authority has its own assessment procedures, timeframes and charges. Obtaining a suitable skills assessment is mandatory for some visa subclasses (and streams) and may be requested for others. You should read all of the available information about the visa you are interested in applying for. This will allow you to determine if you need to submit a skills assessment and when you need to obtain it”.

As such, it is important that you contact the relevant assessing authority for your occupation, as listed on the SOL. To acquire a skills assessment, you will need to check the process and procedure for your assessing authority, as these differ between organisations. Once you have a successful completed skills assessment, you will then need to include a scanned certified copy of this with your work visa application.

What if I Hold a Visa in Australia Based on a Skilled Occupation Which is Later Removed from the List?

The shortage occupation lists are constantly under review and liable to change. You may be concerned that while your application is being considered, or when you are in Australia as a work visa holder, that your occupation may be removed from the list, and that this may invalidate your immigration status. Be assured this is not the case. The Department of Home Affairs makes it clear that you will not be affected; “pending nomination and/or visa applications will not be adversely impacted by the subsequent removal of any occupation from the skilled occupation lists. If you already hold a skilled visa, you will not be impacted by these removed occupations unless there are changes in your circumstances which require the lodgement of a new nomination application – in which case you may then be impacted. This impact may occur if you are changing your occupation or employer, and your occupation is no longer on the combined list of eligible skilled occupations”.

In other words, you won’t be impacted while you hold your visa (or while applying), but you will need to check your occupation is still on the list if you make a new application.

Final Words

If you are unsure if your occupation is included on the shortage occupation list, then it is advisable to speak to international immigration Solicitors who will be able to confirm this, and also verify your overall eligibility for a work visa in Australia. If they do find potential gaps or factors which may warrant refusal or further scrutiny by the immigration authorities, they will recommend the best course of action. If necessary, they will write a detailed covering letter to explain any circumstances which are not straightforward, meaning that your application is more likely to meet the case officer’s visa application assessment criteria. We wish you the best of luck with continuing your career in Australia.

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