Residence visa rules update

Immigration

INZ has also further tweaked residence visa requirements. In effect, the minimum salary level has increased for those wanting to apply for residence under the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC).

Increase in salary levels

The latest changes, which came into effect on 15 January 2018, mean that an employee must be paid at least $24.29 per hour to claim points, under the SMC, for skilled employment.

What is skilled employment?

Skilled employment is a job that matches with an occupation that is at Level 1, 2 or 3 on the Australia and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO).  Alternatively, it can be a job that is at Level 4 or 5 on the ANZSCO, if the employee is paid at least $36.44 per hour. 

How is the hourly rate calculated?

It is calculated on the basis of payment per hour.  Therefore, if an employee is paid a salary, the hourly rate is calculated on the basis of the hours stipulated in the employment agreement.  If the employment agreement says that the hours of work are variable, then INZ will request evidence of the range of hours that an employee could work.  The maximum number of hours that an employee could work will be used to calculate the hourly rate. 

What do the changes mean?

If you have an employee who wants to apply for residence, under the SMC, we recommend:

  • Reviewing the job description to be clear as to the ANZSCO description that the job matches. 

  • Reviewing the employment agreement so that the hourly rate can be easily ascertained.

Are there any other changes to be aware of?

Yes.  There are a number of other changes to the SMC residence requirements, which make it more difficult for applicants to obtain residence.  For example, most applicants can claim much less work experience than they previously could.  In some cases, this means that applicants are ineligible for residence.  We recommend that applicants seek advice from a suitably experienced lawyer before proceeding with a residence application.

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