International student graduates in skill shortage areas have almost zero chance of gaining enough points to get one of the NSW government sponsored visas that would put them on a path to residency.
Migration agents say this is not only unfair to international students in certain fields who have long been attracted to study in Australia by the lure of permanent residency, but is at odds with federal government overtures to increase the number of international graduates who stay on to work and then move into migration pathways.
Karl Konrad, founder of Australian Immigration Law Services, is expecting a mass exodus of engineering, IT and accounting graduates to other states in the hope of gaining sponsorship on 190 or 491 visas in jurisdictions with less arduous requirements than NSW.
“The NSW government is sending a clear message to accounting, ICT and engineering graduates with the high points and work experience requirements that with these occupations you are unlikely to find a pathway to state sponsorship unless you find a job in your profession,” he said.
The NSW occupation lists for the two sponsored visa categories were “not good news for former international students who live in NSW”, Mr Konrad said.
During the recent Jobs and Skills Summit, the federal government increased permanent migration places by 35,000 to 195,000 for the 2022-23 year.
NSW, which has the greatest demand for skilled migration visas, was allocated 12,000, including 7160 places for 190 skilled visa applicants and 4870 for applicants to live in regional areas, or the 491 visa. An estimated 45,000 people will put in expressions of interest for the 12,000 NSW state-sponsored visas available this year.
For the first time, minimum points test scores and minimum skill requirements are now published on the website, alongside the skills list.
Phil Honeywood, chief executive of the International Education Association of Australia, cautioned against international students moving to other states if they felt NSW would prove too difficult to secure a visa.
“It could very well hurt their chances as it suggests a non-genuine commitment to that state,” he said. “The states typically want to see that the applicant is committed to remaining within the state and won’t jump right back to another state.”
Mr Honeywood said the NSW government was trying to be as transparent as possible over the additional places, while managing expectations. He suggested that graduates consider moving to regional areas and undertaking additional English-language training to improve their points.
However, Mr Konrad said he had clients with multiple degrees and professional certifications who had been in Australia for 10 years, including time spent working in their field of expertise, such as accounting, but who would still struggle to accumulate enough points to be eligible for a visa.