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Australian Computer Society: Skills Assessments for ICT Professionals

Australia’s General Skilled Migration (GSM) program is a common pathway used by individuals who wish to apply for permanent residence in Australia independent of their employer. The main GSM visa categories are the:
 
  • Skilled Independent (subclass 189) visa; and
  • Skilled Nominated (subclass 190) visa.
 
Applications for these visas are by invitation only. To seek to apply under these categories you will first require a relevant assessing authority to assess your skills as suitable for your nominated occupation (skills assessment).  A skills assessment is also required by some people to apply for employer sponsored permanent residence, under the Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186) visa through the Direct Entry stream.
 
This article focuses on the Australian Computer Society (ACS), being the relevant skills assessing authority for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) related occupations.
 
ACS Assessment
 
ACS skills assessment applications are assessed against three criteria:
 
  1. Firstly, your qualifications will be assessed against the Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) to ensure they are comparable to Australian education standards;
  2. Secondly, your qualification will be assessed to determine the ICT content (e.g. Major, Minor or Insufficient);
  3. Thirdly, the percentage of ICT units will be assessed to determine the amount of experience that need be evidenced.
 
Skills and Experience
 
If your qualifications are recognised as equivalent to an ICT Diploma or higher you may be eligible for positive skills assessment provided you evidence the requisite minimum years of experience. Broadly speaking:
 
  • a Bachelor Degree with an ICT major closely related to the nominated occupation will require 2 years’ experience in the last 10 years (or 4 years total);
  • a Bachelor Degree with an ICT major not closely related to the nominated occupation will require 4 years relevant work experience completed at any time;
  • a Bachelor Degree or higher with an ICT minor closely related to the nominated occupation will require at least 5 years relevant work experience in the last 10 years (or 6 years total);
  • a Bachelor Degree or higher with an ICT minor not closely related to the nominated occupation will require 6 years relevant work experience at any time.
 
Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) application
 
For those with a Non-ICT Diploma or Higher, or ICT work experience only (with no tertiary qualifications), a Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) application will be required.  This can be a very time-consuming and complicated process.
 
For a successful RPL application you will need to submit 2 project reports with detailed career episodes in your employment history evidencing your claimed ICT knowledge. An ACS RPL Form will also be required.
 
Although the RPL Report must be your own work, an experienced immigration lawyer can advise on the likelihood of success based on the information you have provided. 
 
Things to watch out for
 
Even if your CV suggests a good chance of success, there are some tricky requirements in the application process which if not adhered to, can lead to a refusal:
 
  • all applications must be “decision ready” which means all the documentation must meet the ACS requirements at time of application; 
  • employment reference letters must comply with specific ACS guidelines (for example if duties or dates are “unclear or open to misrepresentation, the work episode will be assessed as not suitable”);
  • ACS only accepts “certified” documents (colour scans are not sufficient);
  • even if your certificate may indicate an “ICT Major / Minor”, ACS will measure every course you have undertaken to assess ICT content. For example, an ICT Major as assessed by ACS requires “at least 50% ICT content”.
 
Reviews and Appeals
 
If you are unhappy with your ACS assessment, you may submit a ‘Review’ application within 60 days of the skills assessment result.  This process allows you to submit additional information or to be assessed under a different occupation.
 
On the other hand, an ‘Appeal’ application is for circumstances where you consider an error has been made based on the information you have already provided.  Appeals must also be made within 60 days of the assessment letter being issued.
 
If you would like professional assistance in applying for an ACS assessment, Review or Appeal, please contact me at mhannan@fragomen.com or 02 09017 7567.