Additional Nomination Places Announced - Matrix Up-date
Additional places allocated to the ACT Program
On 29 November 2018 an article appeared in the Canberra Times reporting that the Minister for Immigration had allocated an additional 600 places to the ACT Government on top of its annual allocation of 800 places.
This occurred on the same day the ACT Government re-opened its Migration Program under its new “ACT Matrix” policy guidelines. From this date applicants have been able to express an interest in applying for ACT nomination for the permanent Subclass 190 visa.
The increase in the number of places is good news as it means the points required to receive an invitation under the ACT Matrix will be lower and more people will be invited to apply. While 300 places have already been allocated to people who applied for nomination before 29 June 2018 there are now 1,100 nomination places to be allocated by 30 June 2019.
We understand the ACT Government will invite around 180 people to apply for nomination each month up from the previous number of about 80 people a month.
Note: Applicants still need to meet the legal criteria for the Subclass 190 visa and pass the visa points test with 65 points.
Great reward for speaking up
VisAustralia wrote to Senator Zed Seselja, the Liberal Senator for the ACT, on 10 September 2018 requesting on behalf of international students residing in the ACT that he speak to the Minister for Immigration and request an increase in the number of places allocated to the ACT. The ACT Government also prepared a submission requesting an increase in the number of places.
Students who attended the protest on 31 August 20128 also called on the Minister for Immigration to increase nomination places allocated to the ACT by 1,500 places.
Nicholas Houston, the Director of VisAustralia, said: "The fact that the ACT Government has been awarded 600 additional places is a great triumph for all of those who have pushed hard for a better deal for international students in Canberra. It reflects the genuine value in speaking up and speaking out about important issues and underlines the need for public advocacy.
First release of Matrix results
The ACT Government released information about its first round of invitations on 20 December 2018.
The ACT Government has invited 93 people to apply for ACT nomination with the scores ranging from 85 to 130 points.
The ACT Government has not provided a breakdown of invitations by occupation, and we do not know what occupations were invited to apply, whether the invitations went primarily to Open or Closed occupations, or whether they went to people currently living in Canberra or overseas.
We note the ACT Government has reserved the right to limit the numbers of particular occupations it will invite to apply. This discretion could be applied to Accountants or Computer Professionals, for example, to limit the number of Accountants and Computer Professionals invited to apply in comparison with other occupations including Open and Closed occupations.
To be frank, moving forward, while this range of score gives an indication of the likely points required to be invited, the score may increase or decrease with further invitation rounds and there is very little certainty in the system for intending applicants. Not everyone who is invited to apply will meet the formal nomination criteria and be able to apply for the Subclass 190 visa. The ACT Government will be seeking to match invitations to approved nominations, as its quota of 1,100 nomination plaves to be allocated by 30 June 2019 relates to approved nominations and not to the numbers invited to apply.
Further detail about how the Matrix will work in practice and the likelihood of being invited to apply will emerge over the coming months.
Our advice: Express an interest now
Notwithstanding the uncertainties, VisAustralia advises that intending applicants should express an interest in applying for ACT nomination as soon as you meet the published criteria. There is no cost associated with lodging an expression of interest and you can do this yourself.
You should be careful with the information you include in the expression of interest as you will need to back this up with hard evidence at the time you apply for nomination.
Your application will be in the system for 6 months, and if your circumstances change you will need to lodge a new expression of interest reflecting your new circumstances.
Applying for ACT nomination
If you are invited to apply for ACT nomination you will have 14 days to lodge your application. You will need to pay a $300 fee to the ACT Government and provide detailed evidence that you meet the criteria set out in the ACT Matrix.
VisAustralia suggests there will be pressure on the ACT Government to refuse applications that do not meet the technical requirements for the nomination. In particular, applicants holding Student visas will need to be very careful to establish you have been working for 20 hours a week for the three months before applying. This means you will need to establish you have been working 20 hours a week and not 19 hours or 21 hours a week.
Given these pressures we suggest you seek professional advice and assistance with your ACT nomination application.
For those who are not invited to apply for nomination, and who arrived in Canberra after July 2017 and who would have met the requirements of the ACT program had it not closed on 29 June 2018, we also have good news.
VisAustralia has obtained a formal Legal Opinion from experienced Canberra Barrister and Adjunct Professor of Law at Canberra University, Mr. Allan Anforth. The Legal Opinion addresses the question of the potential ACT Government liability over the management of the program.
Mr. Anforth has advised that international students who fall within the above class have “good prospects” of success in litigation against the ACT Government in both tort and consumer law.
“Good prospects” in this context means a “better than 50% chance of winning the case”.
VisAustralia is holding a public meeting early next year to provide a briefing on the Legal Opinion and the practical next steps.
If you would like to attend the meeting we ask you to register your interest at the following link: http://eepurl.com/gbfgzr
Immigration advice and assistance
For further information about the ACT Matrix and your prospects of receiving an invitation to apply, and for advice and support in preparing your ACT nomination and Subclass 190 visa application, please call our office on 6247 7577 or send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
VisAustralia is committed to working hard to assist our clients negotiate the application process and apply for permanent residence in Australia.
The VisAustralia office will be closed for the festive season from 22 December 2018 until 7 January 2019.