Tasmania’s 491 Criteria. Is It The New GTE?

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Tasmania’s 491 Criteria. Is It The New GTE?

Now the 16th November has passed we shall be looking at the various state/territory sponsorship criteria for the new 491 visa.

Basically most of the 491 eligibility criteria is the same that was in place for the 489 visa. We notice that for the 6 months employment criteria there has been a tightening of requirements such as “Genuine Need”. If you planning to apply to Tasmania using the 6 month work criteria then use an experienced Migration Agent that has experience in what is meant as genuine need with regard to immigration policy and what the Federal courts have followed.

The Small Business Owner selection criteria has been toughened up but in reality most international students will not be using this category. We note that your business has to be already operating in Tasmania for six months before the application can be lodged. This really begs the question, who in their right mind is going to open a business in Tasmania and incur all of those expenses on the chance Tasmania is going to sponsor you? Obviously Tasmania is not looking for small business investment in their state and they need to re-think this strategy.

Also by restricting applicants to the “solely owned” category this discourages perhaps larger enterprises whereby most will operate in some type of partnership arrangement.

Opinion

No great changes in the most part so those studying in Tasmania can breath easy. However over the months we have had concerns about their general selection criteria and some new changes added. Let’s have a look at those.

Firstly their web site states;

“Meeting the nomination requirements does not guarantee that you will be offered state nomination from the Tasmanian Government. The Department of Home Affairs sets a nomination quota for the state each year, which limits the number of applicants that can be nominated.”

 Why not be transparent with those people who are considering moving to Tasmania to meet the requirements? Why not publish what the quota is and provide an update as to how many have been granted on a month to month basis? Is it really fair to refuse an applicant who has taken significant financial investment to move to Tasmania and then refuse them because they have met their quota?

Often governments forget the notion of treating people fairly at all times. The need for transparency in how governments make their decisions is paramount in today’s understanding of what constitutes a democracy. International students are not third rate residents. They are not cash cows to boost the local economy and then can be discarded once their money is spent!

They should be fully informed of what the possible risks are of not being sponsored by Tasmania before they make their choice to move there. The government should publish their quota and inform the public how many people have applied to the state for sponsorship but have been refused based upon the quota being reached.

In this way international students can make an informed choice of whether Tasmania is really a viable option for them.

The next new set of rules for selection criteria;

If you are able to meet the minimum nomination requirements, your application will be competitively assessed against other eligible applications, with a focus on your ability to address a number of criteria, including:

  • your demonstrated ability and commitment to establishing yourself, and any dependents, in Tasmania with a view to your prospects for long-term settlement in the state
  • the demand for your particular skills and expertise, and your ability to find work in Tasmania
  • the suitability and transfer-ability of your qualifications, skills and experience – including any specialist capabilities – to the needs of Tasmania’s labour market
  • the skills and background of dependent family members
  • your level of English language competency
  • the likelihood of you obtaining a personal income that would meet the minimum taxable income requirement for the subclass 191 Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) visa (currently AU$53,900 per year for at least 3 years in the next 5 years)

Lets discuss these a little, one at a time;

  • The demand for your particular skills and expertise, and your ability to find work in Tasmania

We thought the whole idea of states providing a list of occupations that they will sponsor already meets this question. If you are not prepared to sponsor them because they are fresh graduates and the work prospects don’t look great in Tasmania, then why have them on the list at all? The whole point of regional sponsorship was that the areas had already assessed the demand and they were telling the world what skills and expertise they were prepared to sponsor.

  • the suitability and transfer-ability of your qualifications, skills and experience – including any specialist capabilities – to the needs of Tasmania’s labour market

Does this mean the recent Tasmania Graduate criteria is less likely to be sponsored than those who are actively working in Tasmania for 6 months? Please Tasmania, let everyone know if this is your selection criteria.

  • the skills and background of dependent family members

Hang on a minute, we thought it was bad enough for single applicants to awarded 10 points over those who had partners with limited English. Is Tasmania also now closing the door on applicants who have partner’s whose English is not great? Since when does having a dependent being a Home Maker going to prove a disadvantage to an application? If you have children is Tasmania not going to be happy about that?

  • your level of English language competency

Is just having Competent English going to be enough? Is there an added selection criteria Tasmania going to use to select only those who have Proficient English or above? We thought that reaching the pass mark of 65 points is sufficient to be sponsored, please Tasmania let everyone know if this is not the case.

  • the likelihood of you obtaining a personal income that would meet the minimum taxable income requirement for the subclass 191 Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) visa (currently AU$53,900 per year for at least 3 years in the next 5 years)

That is a curious one isn’t it? It’s bad enough future 491 visa holders will have this hanging over their heads for the next 5 years after the visa grant and now we have a state becoming the pre-executioner. Now why does a sponsoring state actually care if a particular visa holder can achieve this income? As Tasmania is well aware all 491 visa holders are allowed to move to any location on the Designated Area list to satisfy the 191 visa requirements. What position are they to judge future income earned? State sponsorship does not require you to live in the sponsoring state for 5 years after the visa has been granted so what is the purpose of this criteria?

Tasmania’s Past

Is Tasmania starting to slip backwards? Most readers will not be aware that back in history of state sponsorship criteria the Tasmanian government was about the worst. At one stage they used to demand Hairdressers have 8 on IELTS tests so they would be able to chat with the local residents! Their state selection criteria used to be basically, a disguised White Australia Policy.

That was a long time ago and significant changes have occurred to lure international students to their island. Some of these new criteria however is showing some signs of the past is creeping in. Soon they will be called, the new GTE requirement to pass, the Genuine Tasmania Entrant test.

Perhaps Tasmania needs to be careful not to put off international students from considering their state over other options.

Karl Konrad