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The classification challenge in immigration: what is a Data Scientist as defined in ANZSCO?

By 1 November, 2019November 18th, 202114 Comments7 min read

In many industries, some of the most in-demand occupations or specialities did not exist 10 or even 5 years ago, and the pace of change is set to accelerate.[1]

In recognising that Data Scientists are a “new and emerging” occupation not currently covered by the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO), the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and the Department of Home Affairs (Department) have recently provided clarification about the most appropriate ANZSCO occupation for “Data Scientists” for immigration purposes.

In our dynamic employment landscape, this raises a broader question about the adequacy of Australian’s occupation classification system (ANZSCO) and its integration into Australia’s immigration system specifically with respect of work visas.

What is ANZSCO?

The ANZSCO is Australia’s occupation classification system developed in part by the ABS (and certain other stakeholders). There are various categories of occupations from major group, sub-major group, minor group, unit group and then the occupations themselves.  Each occupation has its own 6-digit code, a description, and a list of tasks and duties defining the occupation.

The development of ANZSCO commenced in 2002 with consultations undertaken between 2002 and 2005 and released in 2006. In July 2008, the first minor review of ANZSCO commenced by the relevant stakeholders. The second review was undertaken in 2012, with new occupations only added when they were found to be “statistically viable”.[2]

How do I know which ANZSCO occupation to nominate?

The Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Subclass 482 visa is the work visa to Australia. As part of the “nomination” process of this visa, having identified a position that needs to be filled by a foreign national the businesses must “nominate” an ANZSCO occupation for that position.

In determining the most appropriate ANZSCO occupation, generally speaking a business should have regard to the tasks and duties of the position and ensure that it contains a “significant majority” of the tasks and duties of the nominated ANZSCO occupation.

Often this can be a simple exercise where there are clear cut occupations. For example, there are occupations for Civil Engineers, Software Engineers, and Solicitors etc. For others, where there is not word for word likeness, this exercise can be trickier and many have to take the “square peg in a round hole” approach. The Department do not always agree with these classifications, which can result in refusals.

What about Data Scientists?

With there being no direct ANZSCO occupation for Data Scientists, the ABS has now provided clarification that Data Scientists should nominate the ANZSCO occupation of Information and Organisation Professionals nec, ANZSCO: 224999. They’ve provided the definition of a Data Scientists as follows:

  • Utilise their analytical, statistical and programming skills to collect, analyse and interpret large data sets. They then use this information to develop data-driven solutions to difficult business challenges.
  • Data scientists commonly have a bachelor’s degree in statistics, math, computer science or economics. Data Scientists have a wide range of technical competencies including: statistics or machine learning, coding languages, databases and reporting technologies.

For the purposes of a TSS visa, this occupation is listed on the Short Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) meaning that the visa applicant would only be eligible for a 2 year TSS visa that can be renewed once onshore, and has no pathways to employer-sponsored permanent residency.

By contrast, had the occupation been listed on the Medium to Long Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL), the visa applicant would be eligible for a 4 year TSS visa that can be continually renewed, and has pathways to employer-sponsored permanent residency.

Hannan Tew’s take

Given the known demand for Data Scientists, the decision is rather unfortunate due to the restrictions placed on that particular occupation. However, a quirk of the ANZSCO definition is that Data Scientist positions could still fall under (and have indeed historically been allocated) occupations such as Statistician, ANZSCO: 224113 or ICT Business Analyst, ANZSCO: 261111, both of which are listed on the MLTSSL. Ironically Data Scientists were potentially eligible for employer sponsored permanent residency until they had the “benefit” of being defined.

Hannan Tew have also assisted individuals who studied Masters of Data Science in Australia, with securing skills assessments from the Australian Computer Society (ACS) under the occupation of Analyst Programmer, ANZSCO: 261311 and Developer Programmer, ANZSCO: 261312.

Another solution for businesses that may wish to sponsor Data Scientists, may lie under the Global Talent Employer Scheme (GTES), which allows businesses to move away from occupation codes for positions that can’t cleanly be fit into an ANZSCO occupation (or are considered hybrid-roles).


With many new emerging industries and jobs, Australian businesses risk facing issues with filling skill shortages where new specialised positions arise that cannot be filled locally, and the problems outlined above arise in sponsoring foreign nationals who have the requisite skill sets.

It’s clear that a review into the ANZSCO is needed (whilst recognising that this is a monumental task!). With the ANZSCO now being outdated, the Department have resorted to alternate solutions such as the GTES for this issue. Although we’ve made our concerns about the shortcomings of the GTES known – with indications from the ABS that such a review into the ANZSCO would cost over $4 million and be unlikely to happen before the 2021 census (and likely to take several years)[3] – it’s currently the most viable solution for businesses in such a situation. It’s also likely to be a vital data collection tool for the Department in learning where skill shortages lie for businesses operating in STEM fields, and the positions that are not captured by ANZSCO.

However, with the pace of emerging jobs likely to only quicken and exacerbate existing issues for the foreseeable future, there perhaps needs to be a change in the immigration legislation to recognise that not all positions can contain a “significant majority” of the set tasks and duties of defined ANZSCO occupations.

Please feel free to contact us by email at [email protected] or phone +61 3 9016 0484 if you have further comments or queries or would like some guidance.

[1] The Future of Jobs, World Economic Forum, available at:

[2] ANZSCO, Australian Bureau of Statistics, 26 Jun 2013, available at:[email protected]/Lookup/1220.0Chapter22013,%20Version%201.2

[3] Australia’s outdated official job list leaves students, businesses in limbo trying to get visas, ABC, 17 August 2019, available at:

This document does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Please consult an immigration professional for up to date information.
Jordan Tew

Author Jordan Tew

Jordan is one of less than 50 lawyers who are Accredited Specialists in Immigration Law by the Law Institute of Victoria, and less than 100 nationally. Accredited Specialists undergo a vigorous assessment process, and make up about 1% of all registered migration agents.

More posts by Jordan Tew

Join the discussion 14 Comments


    Is in Future there is a chance of data science course come under in SOL list in Australia. Thank You

    • admin says:

      Hi Aryan,
      Thank you for your post.
      Two points: (1) the occupation of Data Scientist is currently being reviewed to be put on the Medium to Long Term Skilled Occupation List (see here) but in any case (2) we have assisted Data Scientists using alternative occupations (such as Statistician) where appropriate.
      One of our lawyers will be in touch to see if we can help you in your circumstances.
      Kind regards,
      Hannan Tew

      • James says:

        Hello – has there been any indication yet as to when this review will be complete?
        Best regards,

        • admin says:

          Hi James,
          Thanks for your comment. Following public consultation on the proposed occupation changes in early 2020, it was expected that the revised skilled occupation lists would be released in March 2020, however this was deferred due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
          Given the impact of Covid-19 on the Australian economy and higher levels of unemployment within the Australian workforce, we expect that the Department will conduct a significant review of the skilled occupation lists to ensure they are responsive to the skills needs across Australia in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The National Skills Commission, a new body set up to advise the Government during the Covid-19 crisis, is advising the Government on the impact to the Australian labour market, current and future skills requirements and workforce development issues. The Commission will advise Government on which industries have skills shortages and the Prime Minister has announced that the NSC will produce an annual report each year which will set out the skills needs across Australia and which will replace the existing lists for skilled migration.
          To answer your question, we don’t have an update yet but expect changes later this year.
          Feel free to contact us on [email protected] if you have further questions.
          Kind regards,
          Hannan Tew

      • Jack says:

        Hi – was this review ever completed, and if so, what was the outcome? Is it still possible to apply as a Statistician if you have a Data Science background?

        • admin says:

          Hi Jack,
          There has not yet been an update to the ANZSCO to include Data Scientists, but we’ve been able to assist Data Scientists in a number of occupations depending on their background (Statistician, ICT Business Analyst for example).
          Feel free to get in touch with us at [email protected] if you’d like to consider your prospects.
          Kind regards,
          Hannan Tew

    • Rudraksh Mishra says:

      Hey, we are in the midway September now. has there been any indication yet as to when this review will be complete? Are data scientist included in Information and Organisation Professionals nec

      Best regards,
      Rudraksh Mishra

      • admin says:

        Hi Rudraksh,
        No update yet though we’ve been successful in slotting Data Scientists into Information and Organisation Professionals Nec and Statistician depending on their duties.
        Feel free to reach out to us at [email protected] if you’d like us to assess your circumstances.
        Kind regards,
        Hannan Tew

  • Farah says:

    Do data science have pathway toward pr in perth Western Australia?

    • admin says:

      Hi Farah,
      There’s no clear occupation on the WA skill lists that directly correlates, but depending on your actual role you might be strategically able to choose another occupation.
      Feel free to contact us at [email protected] to discuss further.
      Kind regards,
      Hannan Tew

  • Jashan says:

    Just wanted to get an update that which field should i get my skill assessment done for master of data science fror WA

    • admin says:

      Hi Jashan,
      There could be a number of options depending on your skill set including Statistician, or Information and Organisation Professional (nec).
      Feel free to contact us at [email protected] to discuss further.
      Kind regards,
      Hannan Tew

  • emma says:

    Hi, have you had any success of assisting individuals with Bachelor of Data Science and no work experience with Analyst Programmer or Developer Programmer? Or are those just limited to individuals with Master of Data Science?

    • admin says:

      Hi Emma,
      Your assessment will really depend on the visa type, but we’d be happy to speak to you about this if you’re interested.
      Feel free to contact us at [email protected] to dicsus further.
      Kind regards,
      Hannan Tew

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