186 visa skill requirements

Skills Assessment as at time of visa application

The applicant must provide evidence that, at the time of their application, their skills had been assessed as being suitable for the occupation. A skills assessment undertaken after the visa application was made does not meet visa requirements.

A positive skills assessment for an occupation other than the 6-digit ANZSCO occupation code on the nomination does not meet legislative requirements to be accepted. For example, a positive skills assessment for the occupation of Fitter and Turner (ANZSCO 323212) will not satisfy criteria as a skills assessment for an application specifying the occupation of Metal Machinist (First Class) (ANZSCO 323214), although it is in the same core group 3232.

The skills assessment must clearly show that the applicant had their skills assessed as suitable by the relevant assessing authority no later than the date on which the visa application was made.

Skills assessments can be submitted after the visa application is made but the results of the assessment must have been obtained prior to date of visa application. If a skills assessment is not submitted with the application, officers should give the applicant an opportunity to submit the skills assessment (assuming the assessment was obtained before the visa application was made). Any correspondence should clearly indicate that a skills assessment dated after the date of application will not satisfy visa requirement.

If a positive skills assessment is submitted for an occupation that:

  • is not the 6-digit occupation on the application but
  • is within the same 4-digit unit group

in limited circumstances there may be an option under policy for the applicant. In this situation, the applicant may request confirmation from the assessing authority that they would otherwise meet a skills assessment for the nominated occupation even though they gained an assessment for another occupation within the same 4-digit unit group. The delegate should accept this as an alternative only if it is clear that a legitimate error has occurred in the processing of the application and the skills assessing authority is the same for both occupations.

For example, if:

and AHPRA is the assessing authority for both, the above policy may be applied. It is the applicant’s responsibility to correspond with the assessing authority in these cases.


Validity period for skills assessments

Some skills assessing authorities issue skills assessments specifying expiry dates. If a skills assessment specifying an expiry date is provided after the stipulated expiry date, the skills assessment will not meet the requirements of 186 visa.

Skills assessments that do not specify an expiry date are valid for 3 years from the date of the assessment. If more than 3 years has elapsed between the date the skills assessment was issued and the date on which the application was made, the assessment will not meet the requirements of 186 visa.

Must have been employed in the nominated occupation for 3 years

At the time of application the applicant must have been employed for at least 3 years in the occupation for which they have been nominated.

The applicant must have worked full-time for at least 3 years however the period of work does not have to be continuous, or be immediately before the visa application was made. In order for the work to qualify as full-time, the applicant should have worked for at least 38 hours per week.

Any period of employment during which an applicant changed careers (gained employment in another occupation), was unemployed, or took extended leave without pay should be excluded when calculating the period of employment.

Employment should be full time

ENS recognises that, in addition to full-time work, there now exists a range of variable employment arrangements. Citizens of numerous countries depend on multiple income earning strategies to make a living. In Australia, part-time work arrangements and variable working hours are increasingly common. This will impact on how work experience is calculated. If work experience is to be expressed in full-time terms, for part-time workers this can be calculated pro-rata. For example, if the requirement is for 3 years of relevant full-time work experience, if part-time work is at 50% of a full-time load, the applicant must be able to demonstrate they have worked in that occupation on a part-time basis for 6 years.

Recognised Prior Learning

There may be scenarios where a visa applicant has obtained a qualification in Australia while they were the holder of a temporary visa. In these instances, a greater level of scrutiny is to be applied to the Registered Training Organisation (RTO), the course content, and the nature of the assessment items. Please note that such courses do not include those for which a student visa was granted.

It is a matter of concern that AQF certificates have been issued by RTOs without appropriate course work or assessment items having been completed. Where this occurred, assessment outcomes have been solely based on acceptance of Recognised Prior Learning (RPL) in the form of claimed but untested overseas qualifications and/or work experience, or both.

Apart from an unquestioned acceptance of RPL by RTOs, certificates that on the face of it appear to be genuine and AQF-accredited, may have been issued by RTOs with a questionable reputation in relation to the issuing of certificates.

If the course is a genuine RTO-provided learning pathway, including progressive assessment of learning outcomes achieved through classroom tuition and practical course work and/or work experience (where relevant), then some RPL-based assessment can form part of the completion and qualification requirements. As prescribed under the AQF provisions (www.aqf.edu.au/), RPL “may enable the student to meet entry requirements and/or components of the qualification. This may reduce the duration of the qualification.”

The rationale behind the concept of RPL understood this way is that it allows students of a course studied at one institution in a given location, to seek “credit transfer arrangements” (the term used within the AQF provisions) with a different institution in a different location, offering the same or similar course content. For the purpose of RSMS and under policy, RPL cannot substitute for all of the course content in a credit transfer arrangement but may only apply to a small number of completed assessment items.

Where case officers have concerns about the integrity of the claimed qualifications, they may choose to investigate the suitability of the course content, the nature and scope of the completed assessment items (including any RPL-based credit transfer arrangements), and the credibility of the RTO that issued the qualification. If not satisfied that the qualification genuinely reflects an appropriate level of assessment as evidence for skills acquired during a formal course of learning at a reputable RTO, then it may be open to the decision-maker to form the view that the requirements have not been met.

‘Certificates of completion’ that may be issued by RTOs are not recognised within the AQF framework and under policy cannot be accepted as evidence of claimed proficiency. Instead, a ‘Statement of attainment’ should be issued by a RTO when an individual has completed one or more accredited units.

Applicants without a qualification obtained in Australia may still claim to have satisfied the skill requirements on the basis of a specified number of years of work experience allowed by ANZSCO to substitute for the formal qualifications of the relevant occupation. In these instances, DHA scrutinise the supporting evidence provided. Where concerns exists, DHA undertake the necessary checks to establish the authenticity of past employers and the nature and duration of the work experience claimed before deciding on the genuineness of the claimed work experience.

Part-Time and Casual Work Experience

DHA use the National Employment Standard to define full-time and part-time employment arrangements for the assessment of work experience. Employment experience gained from part-time work arrangements can be counted towards the work experience requirement, if it can be demonstrated that the work experience was gained at the required skill level.

Part-time employment experience will be calculated on a pro-rata basis, e.g. two years of part-time experience will be counted as one year towards the requirement. Employment experience gained from casual employment cannot be counted towards the work experience requirement.

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