Key changes in Migration and VIC state sponsorship application process since 1st of July 2018

There have been several changes in Migration legislation and the Victorian state sponsorship application procedures from the 1st of July 2018.  I will only be discussing three key changes:  Implementation of the Skilling Australian Fund (SAF), the VIC State Sponsorship application procedure changes for certain occupations, and the new passing mark for General Skilled Migration (GSM) visas.

In this article I intend to give an overview of these changes and how they can affect visa applicants.

  1. 1.       Implementation of Skilling Australian Fund (SAF) levy

The SAF levy, implemented on the 12th of August 2018, is required for employers who are nominating foreign skilled employees who are applying for a TSS visa 482 or Employer sponsored visas (ENS 186 and RSMS 187). The levy will be used by the Australian government to fund the skills development initiatives for Australians.

The SAF levy amount will depend on the visa type and the annual revenue of the sponsor.  See the table below for the exact cost per visa type.  These costs are payable upon lodgement of the nomination application.

Visa type Business with less than $10M turnover Business with more than $10M turnover
TSS 482 AU$1,200 per year AU$1,200 per year
ENS 186 AU$3,000 one off AU$3,000 one off
RSMS 187 AU$5,000 one off AU$5,000 one off


Consider these two examples:

A hospital in regional Victoria with an annual revenue of $15M decided to sponsor a Registered Nurse on an RSMS 187 visa.  The sponsoring institution (hospital) is required to pay a one-off  SAF levy of AU$5,000 when their  RSMS nomination application is lodged with the Department of Home Affairs.

A fine dining restaurant (with an annual revenue of $3M) plans to sponsor a Cook on a TSS 482 visa on a two-year employment contract.  This restaurant should pay a SAF levy of AU$2,400 (AU$1,200 x 2 years) to the Department of Home Affairs when the TSS nomination application is lodged.

Sponsors have always been required to provide training for Australian Permanent Residents or Australian Citizens as part of their sponsorship obligation even before the SAF levy was implemented.  This training obligation can be satisfied by providing evidences (such as training invoices, payslips of apprentices, contribution to an industry fund, etc.) to the Home Affairs.  Now, with the SAF levy, an exact fee is required for every nomination application (as per the table above).

Some employers think that the SAF levy will hinder their ability to sponsor overseas skilled workers but some employers may find it easier to pay the SAF levy than satisfying the previous training benchmark requirements.   If you are looking for an employer who can nominate you on a TSS 482 visa or ENS 186 visa or RSMS 187 visa, this means that the existence of SAF levy may make it harder for you to get a sponsor or it might be easier, depending on the circumstance of your sponsor.

Also note that the SAF levy should be paid by the sponsor/employer and not the employee being sponsored.

  1. 2.       The passing mark for GSM visas was increased to 65 points.

From the 1st of July 2018, all new visa applications or all new Skillselect  invitations for the following GSM visas should have at least 65 migration points:

  • Skilled-Independent (Permanent) (Class SI) Subclass 189
  • Skilled-Nominated (Permanent) (Class SN) Subclass 190
  • Skilled-Regional Sponsored (Provisional) (Class SP) Subclass 489

This means that if your total migration is below 65 points, you won’t be eligible for the GSM visas listed above.  This also applies to people who have submitted their EOIs before the 1st of July 2018 and have not been invited yet or were invited after the 1st of July 2018.

It is best to have a conversation with your Registered Migration Agent (RMA) or Immigration Lawyer to discuss your options if you are struggling to reach the passing mark of 65 points.

  1. 3.       VIC State Sponsorship application procedure change for certain occupations

On the 1st of July, the state of Victoria added one more step to applying for sponsorship for occupations in:

  • ICT
  • Nursing
  • Engineering and Building occupations

Applicants in these occupations should first lodge an EOI application on Skillselect and wait to be invited by VIC state to apply for the VIC state nomination.  Once invited, you should lodge your VIC state nomination application within 14 days from the invitation date.

This means extra delays for visa applicants who require an approved nomination from the state of Victoria.

In summary, the Australian migration legislation continues to change which may bring positive or negative effects to visa applicants.  Keep yourself up to date by regularly checking credible information sources such as the Department of Home Affairs’ website or by catching up with your RMA or Immigration Lawyer.