Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The New Regional Areas: Implications to International Students

Photo courtesy of Canva


First, the bad news. It may already be stale news, but in March 2019, the Australian government has reduced the permanent migration cap from 190,000 to 160,000 places. This means that it will be a little bit more difficult to get a permanent resident (PR) visa merely because the quota has been reduced by 30,000.

Now, the good news. A little bit stale, but still worth sharing the information. From 16 November 2019, the definition of regional Australia has been changed for migration purposes. These changes will mean that: International students studying in a university in Perth, Adelaide, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Canberra, Newcastle and the Lake Macquarie area, Wollongong and the Illawarra region, Geelong, and Hobart will be eligible to access an additional year in Australia on a post-study work visa. This is in addition to the 2 to 4 years one would be eligible for depending on the degree completed.  

International students studying in a university in a location other than Perth, Adelaide, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Canberra, Newcastle and the Lake Macquarie area, Wollongong and the Illawarra region, Geelong, and Hobart, BUT NOT IN Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane, will be eligible to access an additional 2 years in Australia on a post-study work visa. Again, this is in addition to the 2 to 4 years one would be eligible for depending on the degree completed.  

What is the implication of these changes to those not studying in the universities, or studying in a university but not a degree? For those taking up Cert III, Cert IV, Diploma or Advanced Diploma, there is no additional year(s) of stay that can be accessed under the graduate work visa.  

Quick Note:  

After completing studies in Australia, if eligible, one can apply for the Temporary Graduate Visa (Subclass 485). This visa type has two streams: the post-study work visa for those who completed a degree (Bachelor, Master or Ph.D.) and the graduate work visa for those who completed a trade qualification (Cert III, Cert IV, Diploma or Advanced Diploma).  

In short, the changes announced in the classification of regional areas does not really affect the length of stay under the Temporary Graduate Visa for those studying Cert III, Cert IV, Diploma or Advanced Diploma.  

But that’s not all.  

The changes in the definition of regional Australia means that, for everyone, regardless of whether the study led to a Bachelor, Master, or Ph. D. degree or a Cert III, Cert IV, Diploma or Advanced Diploma qualification, additional 5 POINTS can be obtained under the points tested migration scheme for studying in a regional area, in addition to the 10 points awarded for a Diploma or trade qualification from an Australian educational institution and 5 points for completing two years of study in Australia (for those whose course duration is at least 92 weeks). Check out the Points Table for Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) Visa Subclass 491, click here.  


References:  

6:28 AMManny Diaz

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Things You Need to Know About Agents

If you are planning to come to Australia on student visa, there is a big chance that you have spoken to, or at least have considered speaking to, an agent. If you haven't been in touch with one yet, you are probably wondering which one you should approach, if you ever need one.

What are agents?

In a brief chat with an overseas Filipino worker in the Middle East, it occurred to me that some have the notion that an agent, or an agency, assisting prospective students coming to Australia provides similar services as a manpower agency. That is not the case. When talking about coming to Australia as a student, an agent can be one of two or both:

an education agent or a person working for an agency representing an education provider in Australia and/or providing services to help secure admission as a student in an education provider in Australia, OR

an immigration agent or a person working for an immigration agency.

Education agents or consultants advise you on what course to take, given your circumstances, i.e., age, educational background, work history and career goals. They are those who help process your application for admission in an education provider, e.g. registered training organization, school, college, academy, institute, university, etc. They also provide assistance in the visa application process, albeit supposedly limited to clerical matters only.

Education agents may or may not be immigration agents themselves. They may or may not have a partner immigration agent or agency.

Photo by Marily Torres from Pexels

Meanwhile, immigration agents are those appropriately trained and skilled in matters involving Australian immigration laws, regulations, directions, policies and procedures. In Australia, only registered migration agents can legally provide advise on visa matters.

Some Points to Consider


The services of education agents and counselors are usually free, but some will ask for a fee. Those who offer their services for free earn through the commission they receive from the education provider. It is unethical for agents to refer students only to education providers with which they have an existing agreement. Watch out for noticeable bias of agents insisting on certain education providers.

(Click here for unbiased advise from an independent education counselor)

There is no required qualification for education agents, but it is generally accepted in the industry that education agents are at least a Qualified Education Agent Counselor (QEAC) listed in the Professional International Education Resources (PIER) Online database. On the other hand, migration agents should be registered with the MARA or the Migration Agents Registration Authority.


(Click here for advise from a Qualified Education Agent Counselor)

A legitimate education counselor is someone who constitutes a solo business or is working for a business registered as such in the regulatory authority having jurisdiction on the place where it operates. In the Philippines, this will include all requisite registrations and permits, from SEC, DTI, BIR, BFP and LGU down to the barangay. In Australia, an Australian Business Number is a verifiable information which identifies a legitimate business. Migration agents are legitimate only if they are registered with the MARA.

(Click here to explore your options with a legitimate education counselor)

What to Watch Out For


Watch out for agents who are representing themselves as migration agents but they are not listed in the MARA database. (Click here to search the MARA database) Note that even people who work for or under the direction of a MARA registered agent are not supposed to advise on any visa matter.

Watch out for education agents who claim to have a MARA-registered agent with them or have one as their partner, they will usually ask for fees to cover the costs of advice from a MARA agent. The services of a migration agent is not free, so you may need to clarify early on how much the additional fee you will need to pay when a MARA agent is involved.

Watch out for education agents who advise you about life in Australia when they have not even been to any part of Australia yet. The low barrier to entry for education agency in Australia has led to the proliferation of agents who has not even set foot on Australia and give you advise merely on what they have read.

(Click here for advise from an education counselor who has experienced life in Australia both as student as subsequently as an immigrant)

Do you need an agent?


Finally, the question may be whether or not you need an education agent. The answer is, IT DEPENDS ON YOU. If you are confident about doing the process by yourself, by all means do it yourself. If you are not confident enough, an agent will be useful. If you will have dependents coming with you and the circumstances are complicated, it is best to have an agent. If it is straightforward and you can manage, so be it. Ultimately, no one can advise if you really need an agent or not. It all depends on you.


(Click here for free advise from a QEAC education counselor)    

     
5:54 AMManny Diaz

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Australian Residency for Tutors

Beach and surfing is an integral part of life in Australia. Image by Fabricio Macedo FGMsp from Pixabay.


I bumped into a friend one day, and our conversation led to her plans of moving to Australia. She is married, with two kids, and has mostly worked as online English tutor. She has a degree from the University of the Philippines where she majored in Educational Communication. While our conversation did not really went verbatim as below, let me narrate it here just the same for the benefit of those who, like her, are planning to apply for an Australian residency DIY.

Q. So what was the first thing you did in relation to your plans of moving to Australia?

A. As people have advised me, particularly in online fora, the first step is always the Skilled Occupation List (SOL). The SOL lists the eligible skilled occupations which would allow an individual to qualify for an Australian working visa provided that all other requirements are met.

THE SKILLED OCCUPATION LIST

The SOL is updated regularly, so it is best to check it regularly too. You can find the SOL in the Home Affairs website, https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/working-in-australia/skill-occupation-list. In the case of my friend, she was looking for a teaching role which aligns with her experience. Fortunately for her, there is the Private Tutors and Teachers NEC (NEC means not elsewhere classified, it is a catch-all occupation within the tutoring and teaching role) with ANZCO Code 249299. Searching the Home Affairs SOL search tool showed this result:

ANZCO Code 249299 Private Tutors and Teachers NEC

From the search, occupation 249299 will qualify one for different visas: Subclasses 190, 407, 489, 482, and 187. I am familiar with these options (I did my permanent residency visa DIY too), so I asked her next:

Q. With these visa options, what will you choose?

A. Residency visa in Australia is points tested. Subclass 190 will be tough, 407 is not appropriate, 482 and 187 require employer nomination. This seems to leave me with no other option but Subclass 489. But..

Yes, there is a but and it is not bad. The Australian Government has decided to close Subclass 489 (invited pathway) to new applications from 15 November 2019. That was fast, I thought.

SKILLED WORK REGIONAL (PROVISIONAL) SUBCLASS 491

The Subclass 491 will be replacing Subclass 489. Home Affairs has published a new instrument (LIN 19/051) which provides guidance on the changes to Subclass 489 and the SOL.

Click here to download LIN 19/051

Click here to download the Explanatory Note for LIN 19/051

This is good news to my friend. Her nominated occupation, Private Tutors and Teachers NEC  (ANZCO Code 249299) remains part of the Short Term SOL (STSOL) in the new Subclass 491. The best part is, a new occupation, Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (ANZCO Code 249311) has been added in the STSOL! This is in Item 90, Section 9, Page 14 of LIN 19/051.

Q. So what will you do now? Will you nominate ANZCO 249299 or ANZCO 249311?

A. This gets a little confusing. The best thing to do, I guess, is to check which of these two will suit my skills, experience and qualifications best. I need to try to improve my chances of getting the visa.

THE AUSTRALIAN AND NEW ZEALAND STANDARD CLASSIFICATION OF OCCUPATIONS 2013 (Version 1.2)

According to the ANZCO information from the Australian Bureau of Statistics website, TEACHERS OF ENGLISH TO SPEAKERS OF OTHER LANGUAGES teach classes in English to students whose first language is a language other than English.

Tasks Include:
  • assessing the extent of language difficulties in students for whom English is a second language teaching students individually and in small groups out of the regular classroom, and assisting students within normal classroom settings 
  • teaching students English language skills using a variety of methods including lecture and visual demonstration 
  • providing assistance to other classroom teachers by designing special teaching programs for students with English language difficulties 
  • designing and producing teaching materials and adapting existing materials 
  • preparing course outlines and goals assigning lessons, correcting homework, and preparing and grading exams 
  • analysing, recording and reporting progress to regular classroom teachers, parents and students

According to my friend, the ANZCO description of the tasks where a classroom setting is expected could disqualify her. It is a risk to nominate ANZCO 249311.

On the other hand, PRIVATE TUTORS AND TEACHERS teach students in the practice, theory and performance of subjects, such as art, dance, drama and music, in private training establishments.

Tasks Include:
  • planning programs of study for individual students and groups 
  • preparing and presenting material on the theory of the subject area 
  • instructing and demonstrating practical aspects of the subject area 
  • assigning problems and exercises relative to students' training needs and talents 
  • assessing students and offering advice, criticism and encouragement 
  • revising curricula, course content, course materials and methods of instruction 
  • preparing students for examinations, performance and assessments 
  • keeping abreast of developments in the subject area by attending professional conferences, seminars and courses, reading current literature, and talking with colleagues 
  • may arrange visits and tours to professional exhibitions and performances 
  • may organise for exhibitions or performances of students' work
ANZCO 249299 is really the right occupation to nominate, my friend concluded. It aligns well with her experience as online tutor.

Q. Okay, so now that you are sure of the ANZCO occupation to nominate, what is the next step?

A. I will need a VETASSESS assessment. VETASSESS is the body or agency which is given the authority to provide suitability assessment for a nominated occupation, in this case ANZCO 249299. Other occupations will have a different assessing authority, mind you.

SKILLS ASSESSMENT FOR MIGRATION

According to VETASSES, my friend's nominated occupation is classified as General Professional Occupation. To apply for assessment, one should create an account with VETASSESS at https://skillassess.vetassess.com.au/Registration/ApplicantRegistration. But before that, it would be prudent to have all the details and supporting papers first, as my friend did.

Q. How did you prepare for the VETASSESS assessment?

A. I downloaded the paper application form so I get an idea of what information will be required. I know, I will not be applying on paper. I will apply online. The paper form is downloadable at https://www.vetassess.com.au/Portals/0/Downloads/qualification_assessment/SRG29%20Application.pdf

Based on this form, these are the information needed, in addition to personal data:

  • Employment Details with List of Main Tasks and Duties
  • Professional License or Registration
  • Membership of Professional Body
  • Qualifications

The form also contains a required documents checklist which is reproduced below:


The additional evidence required for the Philippines based on the Explanatory Note (which then refers to Appendix A) is that if the applicant has passed the Professional Regulation Commission's Licensure Examinations, providing documentary evidence will POSITIVELY impact the application.

Q. The way I see it, it is crucial that you get a statement from your employer. But wait, aren't you an independent contractor?

A. Yes, I am an independent contractor. I have worked for the online ESL tutoring sites. I can, however, provide proof of having been an ESL tutor. 

DOCUMENTS TO COLLECT

My friend focused on the requirements from VETASSESS. Specifically, the Explanatory Note in the paper application form advised that:


Because of labor laws in the Philippines, employers are wary of using employment as a term. My friend is an independent contractor, so she asked for a Statement of Service (Work Reference) from her employer and prepared copies of her payslips. The statement of service is guided by Appendix B reproduced below:


Essentially, in addition to the above details, my friend asked for a document which reads like this:

"To Whom It May Concern:

This is to certify that xxx has independently contracted with This Company as private tutor from xx-Month-20xx to present. Her salary is Phpxx.xx (In Words) per hour. Due to our business model, we do not have full-time or part-time tutors as such, but all hours of work of our tutors are logged to enable correct payment of wages. The hours of work of xxx is indicated in detail in Appendix A.

As tutor, xxx is responsible for the following tasks:
  • planning programs of study of the English language for each student 
  • preparing and presenting material on English as a language 
  • instructing and demonstrating English communications 
  • assigning problems and exercises relative to the learning progression of each student 
  • assessing students and offering advice, criticism and encouragement 
  • revising curricula, course content, course materials and methods of instruction
  • preparing students for examinations, performance and assessments 
Her full duties and responsibilities are part of the contract between This Company and each independent contracting tutors. Attached is a copy of the said contract as Appendix B.

xxx also has an online profile as tutor which is available as part of our promotional strategy. Kindly refer to http:/url.of.her.profile.

This certification is issued upon request of xxx for whatever legal purpose it may serve."

The letter is dated and signed according to the guidance shown above. The statement of tasks may look familiar, and it should, because it is very much similar to the task listing in the ANSCO occupation at the Australian Bureau of Statistics website first mentioned above.

Q. So, how much is the assessment fee?

A. The assessment fee is published in the website, https://www.vetassess.com.au/skills-assessment-for-migration/professional-occupations/fees-and-payment. For my nominated occupation, the fee is AUD880.00. Lodging online is cheaper compared to the paper-based and it is faster too. I do not need documents to be certified, all I have to do is scan them in high resolution and in colour. It is also interesting to note that lodging offshore is cheaper still, because there is no GST, that's similar to VAT in the Philippines.

NEXT STEPS

After obtaining a positive assessment from VETASSESS, the next step is to submit an expression of interest in SkillSelect at the Home Affairs website. The Subclass 489 guidance at https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/getting-a-visa/visa-listing/skilled-regional-provisional-489/invited-pathway (there is no page for Subclass 491 yet I suppose) provides a timeline as follows:



The waiting game begins.



Friday, September 27, 2019

Living on a Budget

In a Facebook group for Filipino students in Australia (and those planning to come on student visa), a common question asked is how much money do I need per week? A variant usually goes like will I survive on the 20-hour work per week? I got tired of responding to the same questions, so I decided to write this brief. If you are among those asking how much you will need to budget to live in Australia on student visa, this is your starting point. Read and be informed.

IMPORTANT NOTICE

The information I will be providing here is based on very conservative estimates. You be the judge if these will suit you. You can certainly make adjustments, but that will mean the costs may (and certainly will) go up.

LEAST COST MEALS

Here are the assumptions I made to come up with the lowest budget (you'll eat three times a day, but don't self-pity, okay?)

First, you will already have your plates, spoon, fork, cup and other eating utensils. You will also already have your cooking utensils, such as a turner for frying egg, and a $20 investment on the cheapest rice cooker. You accommodation should also have a stove, usually shared accommodation would have them (otherwise it will be additional one-time expense). Generally, gas cooking is free, you get charged for electric cooking (mahal ang kuryente!)

Second, a typical breakfast (actually, following these estimates, that will be your DAILY breakfast) will consist of two fried eggs from the cheapest 700g one-dozen pack caged variety you can find, plus 100g of rice (that is the average rice consumption in the Philippines per person). To save on costs, you must buy the 10kg (or the 5kg) pack, the cheapest find you can get. (TIP: every week, grocery chains Woolworth and Coles will have items on 50% discount. In my almost 10 years in Australia, I have not bought rice full price. I always buy the 50% off at sufficient quantity to last until the next 50% off is on).

Third, since you will be out and about at lunch, and you will have not time to cook something, a sandwich will be your typical fare. For $5, you can have a sandwich from Woolworth. It can be cheaper if you get a $2 burger from Hungry Jacks. Whatever. Lunch is $5. You can buy instant noodles, instant rice meals, instant pasta, for that amount. You will need a microwave oven though if you plan to go that way. Otherwise, sandwich it is. 
Every week, grocery chains Coles and Woolworths have items on sale, usually 50% off shelf price. You can stock up on basic necessities so you don't have to pay for full price.

Fourth, dinner will be pasta. You can easily find a $3 pasta and a $3 pasta sauce which will last you two meals. Add a can of tuna for $2, you are set. Alternatively, you can visit a mall or shop just before closing, they will usually sell their take away food for $5. That will cover your dinner.

With the foregoing as your typical day, you can add accommodation costs. For a shared room, you can start from $150 per week. That's $600 per month. Let's hope that your $150 per week is all inclusive of electricity + water and if you are lucky, WiFi too. I did not factor them in here, so make the adjustments in case your accommodation is not as I described.

For a $150 accommodation, expect to spend on transportation. Walking might not be an option (although walking will be part of your daily commute). Spending $15 on train, tram, bus or ferry per day is not uncommon, so in a month your transportation costs will be $450.

THE BIG PICTURE

With the assumptions above, you will need at least $1,350 per month. Prospective students and just the kibitzers will ask, can I survive on work while on student visa? Remember that you will have to consider the following:

First, while on student visa, you can only work 40 hours every two weeks, or 20 hours per week. At that rate, you can earn at most $1,600. That is assuming that you are able to work all the 20 hours per week, every week. In a month, you will have worked 80 hours, and at the rate of $20 per hour more or less, you will earn $20 x 80 = $1,600. The $20 per hour is just an estimate, you can find out the minimum wage, award rates and other rights (yes, even workers on international visa have rights, read about them and do not get exploited by dodgy business and persons) at the Fair Work Ombudsman website:

Click here for the Minimum Wage

Click here for your Rights as Working International Student

Second, while the first may sound optimistic (look, you have some extra cash $250 per month) and not to dampen your optimism, you have to be realistic. There is a very good chance that you cannot find work immediately upon arrival. If it is your first time abroad and away from the comforts of home, there will be some adjustment period and it can be tough. Even if you have full working rights, it would be prudent to assume that you will not be able to find work in the next 3 to 6 months. Some are lucky and can find work in the first week, but some could not find work even after 6 months. So keep that in mind and consider the possibilities. I guess what I am saying is that you should not rely solely on income from working while on student visa to support yourself fully. It can be done, but at a cost.

What about cash on hand?

Cash on hand is wage paid to you without going through the tax system. It is illegal. It is unlawful. DO NOT consider it. It will bring you trouble and could jeopardise your chances here. It can get you deported. It can put you on exclusion from Australia. Cash on hand will also be supporting dodgy businesses, cheaters who exploit people and the system.

So, can you survive as working student? Probably. It can be done, it has been done. But it will be very difficult.

FINAL NOTES

One does not live on eggs and rice alone. (Well, my daughter used to, eggs and rice being comfort food). The example above is merely for purposes of illustration. You can of course vary the menu. Canned goods can be your friend. Corned beef and Spam will cost less than $5. As you get settled, you can get better at budgeting. Aside from pork and beef, lamb is popular in Australia. Sausages too. And salad. Veggies. Be creative. Make your own menu. You can estimate the costs by having a look at current prices. The following websites are popular grocery chains:


That will give you an idea of how much food costs.

Next, you may want to look up accommodation options. You may find help from Filipino groups on social media. Otherwise, checkout the following:

Flatmates (Shared Accommodation)
Booking (Temporary Stay - Use this link to get $25 back off your first booking)
AirBnB (Temporary Stay - Use this link to get up to $76 off your first booking)
Domain and RealEstate (Long-term Accommodation Rental)

Goodluck. Remember, bawal ang tamad. Do some research, make some tentative plans. Ask if you need help, but do not wait to be spoon-fed. People who help may get tired helping.




Sunday, April 28, 2019

Studying in Australia to Boost Chances of Permanent Residency

IMPORTANT NOTICE, DISCLOSURE AND DISCLAIMER

  1. Notice. In Australia, only those who are registered with the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA) can legally provide visa advise and services. Applicants for an Australian visa, however, are NOT required to engage the services of a migration agent. Anyone can apply for an Australian visa DIY style. If you need to engage the services of  a migration agent, however, I am able to recommend one. Please reach out to find out more.
  2. Disclosure. The author is a lawyer in the Philippines but is not a MARA-registered agent. 
  3. Disclaimer. This article is an opinion piece and must not be taken as advise of any kind in any way. Information from this article may be used solely at the risk of the party using it. The author shall be free from any liability arising or that may arise from the use or misuse of material(s) from this article.

STUDYING IN AUSTRALIA

For those who may miss out on the opportunity to apply for permanent residency in Australia as skilled independent migrant (Subclass 189), studying in Australia is a way that can boost points in the points-tested visa stream.

By looking at the points system, there are a few areas where additional 5 points can be earned. It is important to note the key requirements for the points boost though: the course must be CRICOS registered and you must have the correct student visa for it. CRICOS stands for Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students. It is a register of Australian education institutions that recruit, enrol and teach overseas students.

If you are studying in Australia, it would be better if you can pursue a doctorate degree. A doctorate degree gives you 5 more points than a bachelor's degree. Curiously, a master's degree does not add points. (Click here for the points table at the Australian Home Affairs website). A doctorate, however, is not for everyone.

If a doctorate is not for you, do not fret. There are other ways to boost your points, one of which is the 5 points given for specialist education qualification. To get a specialist education qualification, you must obtain at least a Masters degree by research (or a Doctorate degree) from an Australian educational institution that included at least 2 academic years study in science, technology, engineering, mathematics or specified information and communication technology (ICT) fields.

If a master's degree is also not for you, you can get the 5 points for Australian study requirement if you study in Australia for at least two years (or 16 months) leading to a degree, diploma or trade qualification from an Australian educational institution. Study in private colleges or TAFE will qualify you for this, provided that it is CRICOS registered and the duration of study sums up to two years, even if you obtain multiple qualifications, such as trade qualifications or diploma. (In Australia, trade qualification or diploma is similar to TESDA certificates and vocational courses in the Philippines).

While you are at it, studying in a non-metropolitan area will give you an additional 5 points. If you want to get this points boost, avoid Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and other big cities. Refer to this list for the locations considered as eligible for this: https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/getting-a-visa/visa-listing/skilled-independent-189/regional-postcodes.

And since you are in Australia, you get the chance to get the 5 points boost for holding a recognised qualification in a credentialled community language. In other words, you can be a Filipino (Tagalog) interpreter or translator. To obtain this credential, take the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) accreditation. Click on the link for more information. This is an entirely separate undertaking from your studies.


8:17 PMManny Diaz

Standard Pathway to Permanent Residency in Australia for IT Professionals

IMPORTANT NOTICE, DISCLOSURE AND DISCLAIMER

  1. Notice. In Australia, only those who are registered with the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA) can legally provide visa advise and services. Applicants for an Australian visa, however, are NOT required to engage the services of a migration agent. Anyone can apply for an Australian visa DIY style. If you need to engage the services of  a migration agent, however, I am able to recommend one. Please reach out to find out more.
  2. Disclosure. The author is a lawyer in the Philippines but is not a MARA-registered agent. 
  3. Disclaimer. This article is an opinion piece and must not be taken as advise of any kind in any way. Information from this article may be used solely at the risk of the party using it. The author shall be free from any liability arising or that may arise from the use or misuse of material(s) from this article.

THE EOI PROCESS

So, okay, you are interested to permanently reside in Australia. The rules and regulations around visas in Australia change regularly, but at present, you need to go through an Expression of Interest (EOI) process first before you can apply for the visa itself. This means that you submit an EOI, your application is evaluated and if you are deemed to be qualified, you will be invited to submit an application for the visa. The Australian government, through its Department of Home Affairs, has published a guide on how to go through this process. Click on the link below to read the guide:

https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/getting-a-visa/visa-listing/skilled-independent-189/points-tested

The skilled independent visa subclass 189 is a points-tested visa. This visa is what I have in mind as the standard pathway to permanent residency in Australia for IT professionals because specialised IT occupations are in the Skilled Occupation List (SOL). To be eligible for the Subclass 189, the first requirement is that your nominated occupation is listed in the SOL. IT occupations in the SOL are as follows:

Analyst Programmer (ANZSCO Code 261311)
Computer Network and Systems Engineer (ANZSCO Code 263111)
Developer Programmer (ANZSCO Code 263111)
ICT Business Analyst (ANZSCO Code 261111)
ICT Security Specialist (ANZSCO Code 262112)
Multimedia Specialist (ANZSCO Code  261211)
Software Engineer (ANZSCO Code  261313)
Systems Analyst (ANZSCO Code  261112)
Software and Applications Programmer - Not Elsewhere Classified (ANZSCO Code 261399)

The ANZSCO Code is the code number assigned to the occupation under the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations. Don't be bothered by this for now, but you will be needing the ANZSCO Code of your nominated occupation. The links provided above contain detailed information from the Australian Bureau of Statistics describing what the occupation is. Have a read.

WHAT TO DO BEFORE SUBMITTING THE EOI

Before you submit the EOI, you will need to prepare supporting documents. But before you even prepare your supporting documents, it makes sense to do a self-assessment first if you qualify in the points test.

THE POINTS TEST

The points table used in the points test is available from the Department of Home Affairs. The link is provided below:

https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/getting-a-visa/visa-listing/skilled-independent-189/points-table

Alternatively, you can use the Points Calculator, also from the Department of Home Affairs. The link is provided below:

https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/help-support/departmental-forms/online-forms/points-calculator

If you are using the Points Calculator, select visa Subclass 189 to start. Please note that you need at least 65 points to even consider applying for the EOI. If you scored below 65, it is best to consult a MARA-registered agent, the DIY approach will not be suitable.

For most applicants, the following items in the points table will be relevant:

Age
English Language
Work Experience
Qualifications

POINTS BOOST

If you scored around 65, you may want a little boost. A points boost can be obtained for the following:

Australian study requirement - you should have studied or you should study in Australia for at least 2 years. Click here for more information on what the criteria are for this requirement.

Accredited in a community language - if you are studying in Australia and wants to boost your points, take the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) accreditation to be eligible for this points boost. Filipino (Tagalog) is a community language that attracts this points boost. Click here for more information on how to be an accredited translator or interpreter.

Study in regional Australia - while you are at it, studying in regional Australia will add 5 more points to your application. Thus, if you need to study in Australia (and get the NAATI accreditation at the same time), study in regional Australia. Avoid Sydney, Melbourne, and other high-population growth metropolitan areas. Click on this link to find out which areas are considered as regional.

Specialist education qualification - a further points boost is, if you are taking a 2-year course, to take a 2-year Masters by Research (or a PhD by Research).

(I have written another blog about Studying in Australia to Boost Chances of Permanent Residency. Have a look for details).

Partner skills - perhaps the only points boost that will not require you to study in Australia for at least 2 years, you can get an additional 5 points if your partner or spouse goes through the skills assessment and gets a positive result, i.e. English proficiency is good, nominated occupation is in the SOL, and the relevant assessing authority makes a positive assessment.

SKILLS ASSESSMENT

Assuming now that you have the minimum 65 points required, the next thing to do is get your skills assessed. For IT professionals, the relevant assessing authority is the Australian Computer Society (ACS). The ACS website is https://www.acs.org.au, have a look. Currently, the fee is $500 but it can change (as it usually does). Click here for the fees information.

PREPARING FOR THE SKILLS ASSESSMENT

The ACS provides a guide on how to go through the application process. Please refer to https://www.acs.org.au/msa/information-for-applicants.html or download the relevant document from below list:

ACS Skills Assessment Guidelines for Applicants
ACS Quick Reference of Assessment Requirements
ACS Guide to Choosing the Right ANZSCO
ACS Application Checklist

Once you have all the required documents, have them certified as a copy of the original and scan them using a colored scanner with a maximum resolution of 200 dpi. All files must be in PDF format, but nothing bigger than 3MB. It is recommended that you use an intuitive file naming convention, such using your family name and an indicator of what the file is. For example, it is easy to know that 'Diaz-TOR.pdf' is a copy of the transcript of records of someone surnamed 'Diaz'.

It is a bit ironic that ACS file upload requirements seem to be outdated. AITSL, for example, does not require copy certification anymore as long as documents are scanned in color. In addition, AITSL accepts different file formats, while ACS accepts only PDF and in multiple files. ACS requires all pages are consolidated into one PDF document for each qualification and each employment entry.

When all these are prepared, you are ready to submit the application for skills assessment.

To be continued

Thursday, April 25, 2019

AITSL Skills Assessment for Secondary School Teacher (ANZSCO Code 241411)

The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) is the assessing authority for teaching occupations in the Skilled Occupations List (SOL). In assessing skills for the Secondary School Teacher (ANZSCO Code 241411) occupation, it considers two criteria: qualification and English language proficiency.

ENGLISH LANGUAGE REQUIREMENT

For a secondary teacher, the AITSL requires International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score of at least 7.0 for both Reading and Writing; and a score of at least 8.0 for both Speaking and Listening. The IELTS test  must have been taken during the 24-month period prior to submitting an application AND must be the academic version.

Those who have completed at least four full years of study (or part-time equivalent) in higher education (university) in Australia, Canada, the Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom or the United States of America resulting in qualification(s) comparable to the educational level of an Australian Bachelor degree (Australian Qualifications Framework Level 7) or higher, provided that the study included recognised initial teacher education qualification, are exempt from the IELTS requirement.

QUALIFICATION REQUIREMENTS

This article was written tailored for hopefuls from the Philippines. The AITSL has published the Assessment for Migration Applicant Checklist: Secondary School Teacher (ANZSCO Code 241411), please download the guide particularly if you are not from the Philippines.

Reading the AITSL guide can confuse, but essentially it is saying that you must have a teaching qualification. This teaching qualification must have been obtained as a result of:

At least four years of study in the university or higher education level;

At least one year of study in the university or higher education level specifically on teaching at the secondary school level; and

At least 45 days of supervised teaching practice with students across the 13 to 18 years age range in a secondary school setting.

Therefore, the following qualifications appear to satisfy this requirement:

A Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education, normally a four-year degree in the Philippines;

A Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Arts in Education, major in Secondary Education, normally four-year degree in the Philippines. The major subjects should be shown, however, to constitute at least one year of full-time study.

Any Bachelor degree, plus a course of study in teaching Secondary Education which is the equivalent of at least a year of full-time study, such as a top-up course to a Bachelor degree that makes one eligible to take the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET) or a Master of Arts in Education, major in Secondary Education.

All three options should include the mandatory 45 days of supervised teaching practice with students across the 13 to 18 years age range in a secondary school setting.

DOCUMENT CHECKLIST

To prepare for the AITSL Skills Assessment for Secondary School Teacher (ANZSCO Code 241411), you need to have the following documents:

Proof of Identity

A current and valid passport at the time of application. Only the passport identity page is needed. This is the page where the photograph and identification details of the passport holder are.

Those who have changed their names, such as by reason of marriage, should provide proof of change of name. A marriage certificate in this case is valid proof.

Proof of Qualification

Diploma (in Australia, this is called a testamur) which must be accompanied by an English translation if not written in English. (The Ateneo de Manila University, for example, issues diploma in Latin).

Transcript of Records

Course description and/or syllabus (optional) which, although not mentioned in the AITSL guide, may be helpful to establish the duration of study and content specific to Secondary Education.

Evidence of supervised teaching practice

Supervised teaching practice is that period before completion of a degree or course where a student teacher is on a school placement and engaged in a teaching and learning process with school students. This teaching practice is under the supervision of a qualified teacher and university education staff and is formally assessed by the university.

An official statement from the university awarding the teaching qualification is required as evidence of supervised teaching practice. The statement must be on official university letterhead, be signed and dated by a university representative and state: the duration of the supervised teaching practice completed, the age range of the students taught and the setting in which the practice was completed.


Standard Pathway to Permanent Residency in Australia for Teachers

IMPORTANT NOTICE, DISCLOSURE AND DISCLAIMER

  1. Notice. In Australia, only those who are registered with the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA) can legally provide visa advise and services. Applicants for an Australian visa, however, are NOT required to engage the services of a migration agent. Anyone can apply for an Australian visa DIY style. If you need to engage the services of  a migration agent, however, I am able to recommend one. Please reach out to find out more.
  2. Disclosure. The author is a lawyer in the Philippines but is not a MARA-registered agent. 
  3. Disclaimer. This article is an opinion piece and must not be taken as advise of any kind in any way. Information from this article may be used solely at the risk of the party using it. The author shall be free from any liability arising or that may arise from the use or misuse of material(s) from this article.

THE EOI PROCESS

So, okay, you are interested to permanently reside in Australia. The rules and regulations around visas in Australia change regularly, but at present, you need to go through an Expression of Interest (EOI) process first before you can apply for the visa itself. This means that you submit an EOI, your application is evaluated and if you are deemed to be qualified, you will be invited to submit an application for the visa. The Australian government, through its Department of Home Affairs, has published a guide on how to go through this process. Click on the link below to read the guide:

https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/getting-a-visa/visa-listing/skilled-independent-189/points-tested

The skilled independent visa subclass 189 is a points-tested visa. This visa is what I have in mind as the standard pathway to permanent residency in Australia for teachers because teaching is listed in the Skilled Occupation List (SOL). To be eligible for the Subclass 189, the first requirement is that your nominated occupation is listed in the SOL. The teaching occupations in the SOL are as follows:

Early Childhood (Pre-primary School) Teacher (ANZSCO Code 241111)
Secondary School Teacher (ANZSCO Code 241411)
Special Needs Teacher (ANZSCO Code 241511)
Teacher of the Hearing Impaired (ANZSCO Code 241512)
Teacher of the Sight Impaired (ANZSCO 241513)
Special Education Teachers - Not Elsewhere Classified (ANZSCO Code 241599)

The ANZSCO Code is the code number assigned to the occupation under the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations. Don't be bothered by this for now, but you will be needing the ANZSCO Code of your nominated occupation. The links provided above contain detailed information from the Australian Bureau of Statistics describing what the occupation is. Have a read.

WHAT TO DO BEFORE SUBMITTING THE EOI

Before you submit the EOI, you will need to prepare supporting documents. But before you even prepare your supporting documents, it makes sense to do a self-assessment first if you qualify in the points test.

THE POINTS TEST

The points table used in the points test is available from the Department of Home Affairs. The link is provided below:

https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/getting-a-visa/visa-listing/skilled-independent-189/points-table

Alternatively, you can use the Points Calculator, also from the Department of Home Affairs. The link is provided below:

https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/help-support/departmental-forms/online-forms/points-calculator

If you are using the Points Calculator, select visa Subclass 189 to start. Please note that you need at least 65 points to even consider applying for the EOI. If you scored below 65, it is best to consult a MARA-registered agent, the DIY approach will not be suitable.

For most applicants, the following items in the points table will be relevant:

Age
English Language
Work Experience
Qualifications

POINTS BOOST

If you scored around 65, you may want a little boost. A points boost can be obtained for the following:

Australian study requirement - you should have studied or you should study in Australia for at least 2 years. Click here for more information on what the criteria are for this requirement.

Accredited in a community language - if you are studying in Australia and wants to boost your points, take the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) accreditation to be eligible for this points boost. Filipino (Tagalog) is a community language that attracts this points boost. Click here for more information on how to be an accredited translator or interpreter.

Study in regional Australia - while you are at it, studying in regional Australia will add 5 more points to your application. Thus, if you need to study in Australia (and get the NAATI accreditation at the same time), study in regional Australia. Avoid Sydney, Melbourne, and other high-population growth metropolitan areas. Click on this link to find out which areas are considered as regional.

Specialist education qualification - a further points boost is, if you are taking a 2-year course, to take a 2-year Masters by Research (or a PhD by Research).

(I have written another blog about Studying in Australia to Boost Chances of Permanent Residency. Have a look for details).

Partner skills - perhaps the only points boost that will not require you to study in Australia for at least 2 years, you can get an additional 5 points if your partner or spouse goes through the skills assessment and gets a positive result, i.e. English proficiency is good, nominated occupation is in the SOL, and the relevant assessing authority makes a positive assessment.

SKILLS ASSESSMENT

Assuming now that you have the minimum 65 points required, the next thing to do is get your skills assessed. For teachers, the relevant assessing authority is the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL). The AITSL website is https://www.aitsl.edu.au/, have a look. Currently, the fee is $830 but it can change (as it usually does). Click here for the fees information.

PREPARING FOR THE SKILLS ASSESSMENT

The AITSL provides a guide on how to go through the application process. Please refer to https://www.aitsl.edu.au/migrate-to-australia, or download the AITSL Assessment for Migration: Applying for a skills assessment guide. Specific requirements for each teaching qualification are as follows :

AITSL Skills Assessment for Secondary School Teacher (ANZSCO Code 241411) This provides details on what to prepare to apply for skills assessment under this occupation. Click on the link to read through and come back here for the next steps.

AITSL Skills Assessment for Early Childhood (Pre-primary School) Teacher (ANZSCO Code 241111) This provides details on what to prepare to apply for skills assessment under this occupation. Click on the link to read through and come back here for the next steps.

AITSL Skills Assessment for Special Needs Teacher (ANZSCO Code 241511) This provides details on what to prepare to apply for skills assessment under this occupation. Click on the link to read through and come back here for the next steps.

AITSL Skills Assessment for Teacher of the Hearing Impaired (ANZSCO Code 241512) This provides details on what to prepare to apply for skills assessment under this occupation. Click on the link to read through and come back here for the next steps.

AITSL Skills Assessment for Teacher of the Sight Impaired (ANZSCO 241513) This provides details on what to prepare to apply for skills assessment under this occupation. Click on the link to read through and come back here for the next steps.

AITSL Skills Assessment for Special Education Teachers - Not Elsewhere Classified (ANZSCO Code 241599) This provides details on what to prepare to apply for skills assessment under this occupation. Click on the link to read through and come back here for the next steps.

A documents checklist is provided in each of the links above. Once you have all the required documents, scan them using a colored scanner with a minimum resolution of 300 dpi. No file must be bigger than 20MB and must only be in one of the following formats: JPG, PNG, PDF, TIFF or BMP. It is recommended that you use an intuitive file naming convention, such using your family name and an indicator of what the file is. For example, it is easy to know that 'Diaz-TOR.pdf' is a copy of the transcript of records of someone surnamed 'Diaz'.

When all these are prepared, you are ready to submit the application for skills assessment.

To be continued

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

An Outlook Macro

Objective: To create a macro for Outlook 365 which will paste a text string when a hotkey is pressed. In this example, the string '@brightidiaz.com' is pasted when the hotkey Alt-6 is pressed.

STEP 1 - Enable Macro


Click on the Customize Quick Access Toolbar ribbon as shown. Select More Commands.

Select Trust Center then Trust Center Settings. This will open a new window, select the Macro Settings suitable. I recommend 'Notification for all macros' to be on the safe side. Click on OK to accept the Macro setting. Click the OK button again to accept the Trust Center setting. This has been marked on the screenshot above and color-coded for easy reference.

STEP 2 - Enable the Developer option

Click on the Customize Quick Access Toolbar ribbon as with STEP 1 and select More Commands. Click on Customize Ribbon and see to it that the option Developer is checked. Accept the change by clicking on OK.

 STEP 3 - Write the Macro

 
Click on the Developer tab then click on the Visual Basic button.

 
The Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications project window will open up as shown above. Navigate to ThisOutlookSession as shown encircled in red. This will open the code window shown at right above.


Paste the following code inside the code window.

Sub InsertText()
Const sText As String = "@brightidiaz.com"
On Error GoTo ErrHandler
If TypeName(ActiveWindow) = "Inspector" Then
    If ActiveInspector.IsWordMail And ActiveInspector.EditorType = olEditorWord Then
        ActiveInspector.WordEditor.Application.Selection.TypeText sText
    End If
End If
Exit Sub
ErrHandler:
Beep
End Sub

The code window will look like as shown above. Click on the Save button encircled in the screenshot above and CLOSE the window.

STEP 4 - Create a button for the Macro


Click on New Email as if composing a new email. Click on the Customize Quick Access Toolbar in the new email window then click on More Commands.



Click on the Customize Quick Access Toolbar as in STEP 1 or click on File | Outlook Options which will achieve the same thing. Choose Quick Access Toolbar then select Macros from the Choose commands from drop down. Highlight the name of the Macro Project1.ThisOutlookSession.InsertText then click on Add to add it to the right. Click OK to accept the changes. This has been marked on the screenshot above and color-coded for easy reference.


A button will be created on top of the new email window, encircled in yellow shown above. Click on this button each time you need to insert the text defined in the Macro.


STEP 5 - KEYBOARD SHORTCUT

Press the ALT key to determine the keyboard shortcut assigned for the macro. In this example, the keyboard shortcut assigned is ALT-6. Thus, pressing the key combination of ALT and 6 will insert the text defined in the macro.