Over the years we have found the most difficult part of the scoring system to explain to clients is that 5 points which can be awarded for Partner Skills Qualifications (PSQ). It is difficult due to the number of variables that need to be considered and assessed before the possibility of being successful on this part of Schedule 6C can be measured.
The typical set of questions we discuss with potential applicants are;
- Can the partner be included in the application?
- Are they an Australian Citizen or Permanent resident?
- Does the partner meet the definition of being a member of the family?
- Do they meet the recent work experience requirement or are they claiming the exemption?
- How old is the partner?
- Do they meet the minimum English required?
- What occupation are they going to nominate?
- Can they meet the skill assessment requirement for that occupation?
These questions are not exhaustive. There are many other issues one must cover when advising a client on the PSQ. We will go through the answers that need to be there before someone has a chance of claiming these points for a GSM application.
Can the partner be included in the application?
Many of the students we see in Australia come in to talk about partners who are currently living overseas while the students themselves are studying here. In these cases we discuss onshore GSM applications and in this case the partner must be eligible to be included in the application in order for these points to be considered. Partners who have been living overseas usually cannot meet this requirement unless they obtain their own student visa, a student dependent visa, or a 485 graduate skilled visa as a dependent.
If the application to be made is one of the offshore varieties then partners can be added no matter where they reside, for these visas do not have the specific requirement that an Australian visa must be held before the application can be validly lodged.
A couple of examples to explain this;
Jim has completed his two year course and wants to apply for the 885 GSM visa onshore. He needs an extra 5 points so he wants his wife to be considered. However his wife has been living back in the UK and has no visa for Australia but seems to meet the overall skill set to obtain the extra 5 points if she can be included. There are then two options for Jim. Firstly he can apply and obtain the 485 visa for himself, then when this is granted his wife can apply from offshore for the same 485 visa as a dependent. Once in Australia with Jim on her 485 visa they can apply for the 885 visa together. Secondly, Jim may consider lodging an offshore 175 application while he remains in Australia on a 485 visa and his wife can be included in this application while she remains in the UK. Jim has to apply for the 175 visa within 6 months of his course completion date if he wants to take this option.
Yatin is going to finish his Bachelor degree in Australia at the end of May 2012. He went home to India and married in July this year. Fortunately his parents found him a girl (after much searching) who has good English, a degree and work experience in one of the occupations on the SOL so is likely to pass the skill assessment requirements. Yatin is planning to apply for his wife a student dependent visa from India shortly. When this visa is granted and she comes to Australia, then when Yatin finishes his course he will have what he needs to apply for the onshore GSM application. Then they can both apply for PR together and her points can be assessed and added to his.
Actually over the years many students have visited my office with a number of resumes in their hands representing potential spouses their parents have located for them. The resumes are presented to choose the one most likely to meet the partner point factors. We`ll if your`e going to marry someone in the traditional pre-arranged method, then you might as well chose the one best suited to meet the points requirement for this will also mean they are both more employable in Australia according to DIAC`s own description as to why this points factor exists.
Are they an Australian Citizen or Permanent resident?
Unfortunately those partners who are already Australian Permanent Residents or Australian Citizens cannot be considered for the 5 points in Schedule 6C.
Actually it`s rather stupid isn`t it? What makes them so different to partners who don`t have a visa to Australia. If anything they would even be a greater advantage to the employability of the main applicant than a partner that has never lived here. For those partners who think they have been discriminated against simply due to their residency status, time to visit your local Federal MP and make a complaint.
Does the partner meet the definition of being a member of the family?
In the past few newsletters we have covered in detail what actually constitutes meeting the definition of being a partner. Have a read of Volume 197 to refresh you memory.
It is a very basic concept here, that is, if you are going to try and claim for points based upon your partner`s skills, then of course he or she must meet the definition of being a partner in the first place. Unfortunately in both the onshore and offshore applications, they must meet this definition before the application is lodged. You cannot ask for your new partner to be considered for these points if they were not your partner when you lodged.
With the onshore GSM visas, technically you cannot add a partner to the application once the application has been lodged. End of story.
With the offshore variety, partners can be added to an application whilst the application is still under processing. A very considerate approach from DIAC for a change. However this does not mean then that you can ask for your newly added partner to your offshore application be assessed for the PSQ. Why not you ask? To understand this you need to read the answer to the next question.
Does the partner meet the recent work experience requirement or are they claiming the exemption?
For partners to be considered under the PSQ then they, like their main applicant partners, must meet the basic requirement of "Recent Work Experience" or be eligible for the exemption at the time the application is lodged.
Recent work experience is defined as having 12 months of work experience in a skilled occupation (on the SOL) in the last 24 months immediately before the application is lodged. This must met at time of lodgment, not at a later date.
The exemption is given where applicants have met the "Australian Study Requirement". Most students should know by now, means to have completed the appropriate 2 years of study, in Australia doing the right type of course in no less than the minimum period allowed, etc, etc. This must have been completed within the last 6 months immediately preceding the application.
For those who actually want to see the rules on this, visit DIAC`s web site for the run down using the following link;
How old is the partner?
Age is straight forward; they must be under 50 at the time the application is lodged. It does not matter if they turn 50 after the lodgment date and before the application is assigned a case officer.
Do they the minimum English required?
The minimum English is defined as "Competent". This is defined in the Migration Regulations as;
"If a person applies for a General Skilled Migration visa, the person has competent English if the person:
Satisfies the Minister that:
The person undertook a language test specified by the Minister in an instrument in writing for this subparagraph; and
The test was conducted in the 2 years immediately before the day on which the application is made; and
The person achieved a score specified in the instrument; or
Satisfies the Minister that the person holds a passport of a type specified by the Minister in an instrument in writing for this paragraph."
You will notice that this is the new definition of Competent which came into effect on the 1st July 2011. Importantly it enforces the fact that the IELTS (the current listed test) examination must have been conducted before the application is lodged.
Astonishingly DIAC`s guidelines to its case officers through the Procedural Advice Manual (PAM) states;
"At the time of points assessment the partner must also demonstrate that they have at least competent English"
It is no wonder when students call DIAC they get conflicting advice to these types of questions when the governments own advice manual is full of inaccuracies. In all applications lodged after the 1st July 2011, your partner must have had the English they needed before the application was lodged, not afterwards!
What occupation are they going to nominate?
Your partner has to nominate an occupation from the same version of the SOL as you have nominated from. Since there are many versions of the SOL you need to be sure this is done correctly. If they use the same version you used then you can`t go wrong.
Can the partner meet the skill assessment requirement for that occupation?
Your partner must also gain a positive skill assessment in the application they nominate from the SOL. The interesting component of this part of the law is that it allows you to provide the result of your skill assessment by the time you are allocated a case officer. Main applicants are not able to do this of course; the skill assessment result must be there in all PR GSM applications before the application is lodged.
Be careful not to get this confused with the 485 graduate skilled visa which still allows applicants to lodge without a skill assessment as long as they can prove they have actually applied.
In reality it is not advisable for an application to be made when relying on PSQ points unaware that your partner can gain a positive skill assessment. This result should be known before the application is made so you can be sure of the total points score that can be obtained.