IMMAGINE AUSTRALIA BLOG

Australian immigration discussion and more...

IMMagine New Zealand Immigration Blog

Posts with tag: migration

Update: If you have previously registered for our email updates but are no longer receiving them you may have been unsubscribed by your spam filter. Simply register your details using our online form and we will add you back to the database right away.

IMMagine Australia Blog

Migrating is more than just filling in forms and submitting paperwork, its a complex process that will test even the most resilient of people. 

Understanding Australia is paramount to your immigration survival and to give you a realistic view of the country, its people and how we see the world, read our regular blogs. Often humorous, sometimes challenging, but always food for thought.

Australia to ease restrictions on work visas?

Posted by Kane on Sept. 16, 2014, 5:21 p.m. in Immigration

The most common question I get asked is how can one work in Australia. The answer to this question is that there are 2 basic pathways, general skilled migration visas that don’t require offers of employment and then work visas that do require offers of employment. This article is devoted to the 2nd pathway i.e. for those people who do manage to secure offers of employment in Australia.

The Temporary Work (Skilled) Subclass 457 Visa (affectionately known as the 457 Visa) allows businesses in Australia to employ foreign workers where they cannot fill a position from applicants in the local market. This visa program provides a great advantage to businesses who become sponsors in that they are able to find suitable employees, not just from the local market but also from outside Australia, and the enrichment that both parties receive through experience working in another country and the skills that are passed on to local employees.

This program has also created some controversy, with accusations that businesses employ foreign workers and treat them unfairly, and that potentially they are employing foreign workers so that do not have to provide the same conditions as they would to an Australian employee.

With greater monitoring from the government, and constant refinement of the laws of this program, most of the business sponsors are reputable and law-abiding employers.

This particular visa program has seen regular changes from progressive governments in order to refine the entry requirements.

A recent independent review was conducted at the behest of the current government into the current legislative requirements in sponsoring foreign workers to Australia. The review panel has recently released a report of recommendations to amend the criteria for the 457 Work Visa. Some of these recommendations are certainly more advantageous for Australian business owners and those who are looking to qualify under the temporary business sponsored visa. Some of the more interesting recommendations include:

·        - the current legislative requirement for labour market testing be abolished. In other words employers would not need to be able to prove that they had tried to find a suitably qualified Australians to fill the position by advertising.

the current Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) be retained at $53,900 p.a. but that it not undergo any further increases until it is reviewed within two years. The TSMIT has been increasing since 2009 at a rate of approximately $2000 per year. When this was first introduced, the TSMIT was $45,220. The TSMIT is the minimum amount of money that a migrant can be paid for a position which must be shown to be remunerated at the market rate.

- consideration be given to accepting the eligibility threshold as up to 10 per cent lower than the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold. This is especially relevant for those who may be graduates or in occupations that are still in demand but generally paid an income below the TSMIT.

- further consideration to a regional concession to the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold

the current training benchmarks be replaced by an annual training fund contribution based on each 457 visa holder sponsored, with the contributions scaled according to size of business.

the English language requirement be amended to an average score. For example, in relation to International English Language Testing System, the 457 applicant should have an average of 5 across the four competencies (or the equivalent for an alternative English language testing provider). Currently one must obtain a score of 5 in each of the four competencies. So you may be able to get an average score of 5.5 but if you only scored 4.5 in the writing module, you would not meet the requirements

alternative ways of meeting the English language requirement including alternative English language test providers,  expanding the list of nationalities that are exempt from the English language requirement, and proving at least five (5) years cumulative study be accepted.

457 visa holders be required to work for at least two years in Australia before transitioning to permanent residence, and that employees only have to remain with a single employer for a period of one year before that employer can sponsor them.

- that consideration be given to reviewing the age restriction on those 457 visa holders transitioning to permanent residence. Currently the age limit is 50 years of age.

It remains to be seen as to how many of these recommendations are implemented. It has already been suggested that labour market testing will remain simply because the government is unlikely to get it through Parliament. Many of the other recommendations make a lot more sense and will certainly cut out some of the red tape that is stopping employers looking outside of Australia to fill the required position.

What this means for those who are looking for employment in Australia, perhaps these recommendations will encourage employers to consider potential employees who are not Australian residents or citizens but it would be best suited for the role.

As you would have gathered from reading through this article, the 457 Visa can lead to permanent residence of Australia. Businesses who have sponsored an overseas employee for at least two years can ultimately sponsor them as a permanent resident which is usually just reward for the service provided by the employee. This is a completely legitimate pathway for residency and one that guarantees that an available position in Australia is filled by a competent and qualified employee.

Of course these recommendations do not escape the primary requirement of actually having to have a job offer from an Australian employer who is also willing to sponsor you for this work Visa.

Should you wish to find out more about working in Australia and how the 457 Visa works, or how you can qualify for other visas to Australia, please register for one of our seminars.


Feeling cool in Byron

Posted by Myer on Sept. 12, 2014, 11:01 a.m. in Lifestyle

I'm writing this to you from what is rumoured to be one of the coolest of places in Australia, Byron Bay. The welcome sign sums it up. “Cheer up, Slow down, Chill out”.

I had heard so many positive things about Byron from all of my friends so when a chance presented itself for my wife and I to take a minication of 5 days, we thought we would investigate for ourselves.

My wife's first impression was that we must be the town’s oldest residents. Everyone seemed to be either side of 30 but when we saw some other distinguished looking bodies on the beach, my wife began to relax and enjoy the atmosphere and quirky nature of the shops and people.

Byron Bay has a reputation of being a hippie enclave where those free spirits can still inhabit the earth, where clothes are advertised as made of hemp (is that a good thing or was there a run on wool) and where the smell of incense is more pervasive than deodorant.

It's a place where “tie dyed” did not go out of fashion in the 80s and the peace sign could be the town’s emblem.

I think you get my drift.

I was told that this was the marijuana capital of Australia and that it was very available (not that I was looking).  At IMMagine, we don’t need performance-enhancing substances.

I didn't find anyone lighting up and neither did I find coffee shops selling this local delicacy but I did find coffee shops selling coffee at Melbourne prices and everything seemed to cost $50 whether it be a breakfast for 2 or a rashie (this is a surf top -- not an order of breakfast bacon).

Speaking of which I probably brought down the cool-o-meter when I hit the beach with my rashie (tight fitting neoprene surf top to ward off cold) when 20-something bikini-clad girls were braving the chilly water with nothing more than a loin cloth and string for a top. I thought body fat was supposed to act as insulation, so why was I feeling the cold more than they?

In this somewhat alien environment, I was pondering the concept of cool.

Everyone seemed to be cool and there were several types of cool. Your aged hippie with grey hair and a faraway look that would suggest that reliving the 60's was just a flashback away. Or the surfer dudes with sun lightened shoulder length hair with long woolly jumpers and beanies alighting from a VW van with surfboards on the roof. Or 30 something parents with good looking kids in designer jeans and dads with ponytails and mums with open toed sandals alighting from Audi SUVs (because BMWs are ostentatious). There seemed to be a fine distinction between those cool backpackers enjoying the freedom of the pavement when bedding down for the night and the odd homeless person doing the same but from necessity not lifestyle choice.

It’s a town where busking and surf lessons must be two of the most popular career choices. If it’s an exaggeration to say that there was a busker on every second street corner, it’s only a marginal one. There is a surf culture that pervades the town from Billabong shops to billboards advertising surf lessons. The chosen mode of transport for a surfboard appears to be the conventional minivan or the less conventional bicycle. I was amazed at the number of surfers riding bikes and holding surfboards.

The prices in Byron didn't seem cool. It seemed that chic has a price tag and whilst love might be free everything else wasn't. The best deal in town seemed to be a kebab shop selling a coke, kebab and chips for $10. Everything else seemed to be as expensive, if not more so than prices in Melbourne. I found even market prices to be expensive.    

The markets consist of items that range from organic and homemade, to imported from India or vintage.  There is a market almost every weekend and the two main ones are on the first Saturday of the month and are massive.   Most stall holders seem to have a small tent which measures about 4m x 4m and sell anything from organic dog shampoos to vintage items. There are tons of food stalls selling sugar cane juice, felafel, vegan samosas, home made doughnuts and lots of delicious and unusual foods.  One can wander around the market for hours and the most fascinating things about them is the people who attend them.  Many are barefoot and bare midriffed with dreadlock hairdos wearing hand-woven Indian hemp clothing.  The people have a very carefree nature about them and there are lots of little children running around.  There is live music in all corners of the market.  We went to the market on a fairly pleasant 18-degree day and it was full. I am sure the stall holders do exceptionally well in December when the sun is shining and Byron Bay is full of foreign tourists who have lots of cash to spend.

My friend Martin made me promise to visit Miss Margarita, the bar not the maiden. We did so and found the best margaritas this side of Guadalajara. It became our nightly ritual to make sure that we were there during happy hour where margaritas cost $10 each. From there it was a short walk to the beach were at 6 PM you could listen to the surf and the sounds of the bongo drums as the small circle of percussionists improvised a beat and the thin reedy sound of the saxophone weaved its spell as the sun set over the sweep of the bay and kissed Byron good night and, for a moment, I too felt cool.


Come and cook up a storm

Posted by Myer on Sept. 5, 2014, 4:06 p.m. in Eligibility

The occupation of Chef is a lot like the character Rocky Balboa in any one of the Rocky I-V films in the oeuvre. Just when immigration policy has given it an almighty right hook and it is lying spread-eagled on the canvas, when count gets up to 8 and you think that it couldn’t possibly come back from this, lo and behold it staggers to its feet and returns to fight another round.

I am of course referring to the fact that the occupation of Chef has been added to the Skilled Occupations List (SOL). The SOL is in part a reflection on the nationwide demand of an occupation in Australia. There are 2 lists of skilled occupations. The other list is the Consolidated Skilled Occupations List (CSOL) and these occupations may or may not be in demand in some states of Australia.

The significance of being on the SOL is if you score sufficient points you don’t necessarily need to be sponsored by a state government and can apply for a residence visa that allows you to live and work anywhere in Australia whereas occupations on the CSOL limit you to living and working in the state that sponsors you for an initial two-year period.

It’s therefore significant that the occupation of Chef was promoted from the CSOL to the SOL which also reflects an increase in demand for skills in the hospitality industry.

Immigration policy has not always had such a benevolent attitude towards the occupation of Chef. In 2008/2009, so many students were traveling to Australia to do “sandwich” courses from sometimes dodgy academic institutions to qualify as chefs because that occupation was on a priority occupation list at the time and was seen as an easy route to obtaining permanent residence.

Following a crackdown, the occupation was relegated from one that did not require state sponsorship to one that did require state sponsorship.

The hospitality industry has enjoyed a resurgence with increased tourism stemming from the devaluation in the Australian dollar. There were 6.6 million visitor arrivals for year ending June 2014, an increase of 7.9 per cent relative to the previous year. 

We suspect that other related occupations such as Bakers, Pastry Cooks, Café or Restaurant Managers and Hotel or Motel Managers will also experience a resurgence in immigration status together with the boom that the hospitality industry is experiencing.

Australia has a passion for food and wine almost unmatched around the globe. Tourism Australia has recognized this by making Food and Wine a major focus in their latest campaign. With fresh natural ingredients in abundance and fuelled by the ever increasing number of cooking shows on TV, Australians are enjoying world class cuisine. Of course as the demand for this grows there is a need for talented chefs to produce and create these dishes. With such a relatively small population to draw upon, Australia has to look overseas to ensure we have a consistent source of chefs.

The government recognizes the importance of qualified chefs and has provided a number of pathways through which international chefs can come and ply their trade in Australia. The most popular of these is the 457 visa, a visa with a relatively quick process time and with a range of benefits both for the visa holder and their partner and children if they have them. To get a 457 visa, the applicant needs to have a secured job and their employer needs to apply on their behalf. The only problem with this pathway is that most employers in Australia do not wish to act as sponsors, particularly if a potential employee is offshore, would therefore prefer their candidates to have work rights associated with the General Skilled Migration visas.

Having said the above, certain hospitality occupations including Cook and Café or Restaurant Managers continue to be highly utilized in the 457 program, mainly by those applicants who are onshore as students or other temporary visa holders.

The recent addition of Chefs to the SOL provides skilled individuals in this field to be able to make an independent application to migrate to Australia for the first time since 2010. Once approved, visa holders have full work, study and residence rights in Australia and should be highly employable given the shortage of suitably qualified Chefs throughout the country.

What’s even better is that the skilled migration pathway is also available to those individuals who may be highly skilled but lack formal qualifications. We have written a separate blog article on the migration opportunities available to certain occupations even when no formal qualifications are held. Briefly put, the policy allows for these applicants’ skills to be assessed and, if found suitable, they are awarded an Australian qualifications which also counts for points in the points test for skilled migration.

Given the above, the path to Australian residence is wide open for Chefs and indeed those in many other occupations where similar arrangements are in place so we invite you to make contact with us to discuss your individual circumstances in more detail if you wish to make use of this opportunity. You can contact us on info@immagine-immigration.com


The unbearable lightness of ranking first

Posted by Myer on Aug. 28, 2014, 11:16 p.m. in Lifestyle

People who immigrate always look for justification that they have made the right decision and that their new home is better than their old. The same applies to those people that decide not to immigrate – they seize upon any negative aspect of life abroad with a sense of glee because it helps justify the decision not to immigrate.

I fall under the former category and whilst I don’t need justification on a daily basis that my decision to immigrate to Melbourne was correct, it’s nice to receive vindication from independent sources from time to time.

I was therefore once again reassured to learn that Melbourne was voted the most liveable city for the 4th time in a row by the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Index.

So why have I waited a week before acknowledging this in a blog? It’s not because I’ve become blasé about the award and I still share the sentiments echoed by our Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle when he said “to be named the world’s most liveable city for 4 consecutive years is a great honour and a testament to the enviable lifestyle that Melbourne offers”.

While I personally love living in Melbourne, I’m not blind to some of the accusations levelled against it:


     1. It’s not a particularly beautiful city. It’s geographically bland, spread out over a substantial urban area. We have a bay but don’t have any inner city beaches that can rival those of Sydney.

     2. The weather often leaves much to be desired. Average summer temperatures reach a high of 25° and a low of 14° and average winter temperature reaches a high of 14° and a low of 7° but on the days when one experiences the extremes temperatures in summer can rise to the early 40’s and in winter can approach 0°.

     3. Public transport, while quite extensive (Melbourne has the largest tram network of any city in the world), does not provide services that are frequent enough, particularly after working hours and most transport is North to South making East to West travel difficult. In addition, it’s a real disgrace that we don’t have a rail line from the city centre to the airport and instead have to rely upon buses and expensive taxis.

So how come the city consistently ranks so well in liveability surveys, so much so that it is ranked ahead of 139 other cities as the best city in which to live?

I enjoyed the view put forward by Josh Gordon in the Melbourne Age newspaper on August 22 when he states that Sydney may have glitz, glamour, booming surf, sunshine and a sparkling harbor but Melbourne has something more refined and civilized: it is good to its citizens. It is intrinsic to Melbourne’s psychology.

One of the purposes of publishing the survey is to enable ex-pats to compare cities hence the focus on criteria such as eating out, recreation, culture, sporting events and housing.

Other Australian cities that featured in the top 10 were Adelaide [5th], Sydney [7th], Perth [9th] while Auckland, New Zealand was ranked 10th.

The Economist Intelligence Unit assessment uses 30 criteria to produce a single score out of 100 points. Included are assessments about threats of terrorism, prevalence of petty crime and murder, humidity and temperature, sport, culture, consumer goods, private education, roads, public transport, health care and the quality of housing.

The 30 values are combined to produce scores for 5 core areas, stability, infrastructure, education, healthcare and culture and environment. A weighted average is then used to generate the overall score.

One cannot ignore the subjectivity of the test and the criteria that cities are being evaluated against and the purpose for producing the survey but still, having said all of that Melbourne must be doing something right.

Most of the mega cities such as London, New York, Paris and Tokyo didn’t fare as well, probably because of higher levels of crime, congestion and public transport issues.

The prominence of Australian and New Zealand cities in the top 10 may also indicate a positive bias as the ranking is put together by the British who always look to down under as representing a better quality of life.

Not only is our city a cool place to live but the people are also friendly. So friendly in fact that in Conde Nast Traveller magazine survey amongst its readers Melbourne tied first place for friendliest city with Auckland.

Those surveyed said it was "no surprise readers adore Melbourne", which was commended for being one of the "classiest cities in the world". Called "capital of cool", Melbourne was praised for boasting an abundance of amazing nightlife, food and hotels, but was also praised for its parks and "fabulous" public art, and its people's "wonderful sense of humour".

In the end, there are many more surveys out there each of which come up with a different ranking depending on what criteria they use, the number of people surveyed, the weighting given to different criteria and the target audience.

There is no such thing as a perfect city to live in. The best a person can hope for is to find the right place for themselves based on what their priorities are. This often involves striking the right balance between, size, services, quality of life and career opportunities. What is clear is that Melbourne and indeed several other Australian cities are highly desirable destinations for thousands of intending migrants from around the world. This positive perception is definitely out there and remains a fact regardless of what different surveys may say.

We at IMMagine invite you to visit Melbourne and other cities around Australia and make up your own mind as to what your priorities are. If you find that what you are looking for is here, you'll find us ready and willing to assist you to make your dream of living in Australia a reality.


That dreaded five-letter word

Posted by Myer on Aug. 21, 2014, 6:14 p.m. in Eligibility

I E L T S ……. 5 letters referring to an English examination that has until now played a very important part in an applicant’s eligibility for permanent residence under the skilled migration program to Australia.

These letters often instil a sense of dread in grown men capable of downing a beer in a single gulp (the most masculine reference that I could find).

This blog examines the nature of the test, some of the forthcoming changes to the examination of English language ability and some misconceptions about the IELTS test.

 

What is IELTS? 

IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is the test for immigration to countries such as Australia and to a lesser extent New Zealand.

The reason for the introduction of the IELTS test is to have a uniform standard of assessing English language ability of applicants because English language ability has been identified by the drafters of immigration policy as one of the key attributes of the ability of migrants to secure offers of employment in Australia and also to integrate into Australian society.

IELTS is comprised of 4 components: listening, reading, writing and speaking.

 

I’ve spoken English all my life do I still need to write the test? 

You may have been born and raised in an English-speaking environment, completed your whole schooling in English and one of my majors was English at University and you have a degree in Applied Linguistics and teach English as a foreign language; you would still have to write the test.. 

Only citizens of certain countries namely New Zealand, United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, United States of America are exempt from having to write the IELTS test however if they need to score any points for English language ability they will still need to do the test and most candidates need to score points.

 

Which test do I write? 

There are 2 “types” of IELTS tests, the Academic and the General test. Certain professionals including doctors, nurses, teachers, accountants etc. need to do the academic test. Everyone else can do the general test. 

 

Do I have to prepare for the exam? 

Yes, yes and absolutely yes. No matter how proficient you think you are in English. The test is set in a very particular way and requires a very specific way of answering. Preparation allows you to familiarise yourself with the structure of the test, the way in which the questions are asked and the time you have to complete each section. 

You can either prepare in your own time using the vast number of materials available online, or you can do an IELTS preparation workshop, which I would recommend, as this is usually run by someone who is familiar with the exam and can therefore give you helpful tips and hints. 

If, after suitable preparation you sit the test and do not achieve the desired results don’t make the mistake of simply redoing the test. Having sat the test once before will help you to be more familiar with the formatting of the test but unless you gain an understanding as to the criteria that you are being examined against [in other words what the IELTS test examiners are looking for] you are simply going to be repeating the same errors.

An IELTS tutor is different from an English teacher. An IELTS tutor doesn’t teach you English but rather teaches you how to apply your English knowledge to the specific format and criteria of the IELTS test.

 

New English language tests

From November 2014, the Department will accept English language test scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language internet-based test (TOEFL iBT) and the Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic).Scores from the Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) test will also be accepted from early 2015.

These tests are alternatives to IELTS.

 

Re-marks

If you feel that your IELTS test results do not adequately reflect your performance in a test you have the ability to ask for a re-mark within six weeks of the test date. You must pay an enquiry fee, which is fully refunded if your band score changes. 

It’s only worth requesting a re-mark of the speaking and writing modules as the listening and reading comprehensions are multiple-choice and there is no degree of subjectivity. Although strict, uniform standards are supposed to apply in the marking of IELTS test scores we find substantial variations in the way speaking and writing modules are marked and many of our clients have received positive results on requesting re-marks of these modules.

 

What points are available?

For a General Skilled Migration application, the highest possible number of points that an applicant can claim for English is 20. In order to claim 20 points, a score of 8.0 or above in each of the 4 bands of IELTS is required. A score of 7.0 in all 4 bands means 10 points. Finally, the minimum requirements can be met with a score of 6.0 in all 4 bands but this does not attract any points.

 

Common mistakes in interpreting results

Most visas in Australia focus on the lowest score that you obtain on each of the 4 bands, not the average score.

Whilst the average score might be relevant to a spouse or partner who is not contributing points, it is the lowest score, not the average score, which is of relevance to primary applicants.

New Zealand focuses on the average score for principal applicants but not Australia. There is also a requirement that the requisite score be obtained in a single sitting of the IELTS test which is a major policy failing in our opinion. In other words if an applicant is required to obtain 7 on each of the 4 bands and manages to do so in every band but writing on the first sitting, resits the test and achieves 7 on the writing module on the 2nd sitting of the test but fails to obtain 7 on the speaking module then he would have to sit the test for a 3rd time. 

This might make sense if there was a significant gap between the 1st and 2nd tests but bearing in mind that the IELTS test is valid for a period of 3 years the requirement to obtain the requisite band score on a single sitting of the IELTS test would seem to be more a measure of exam performance than English language ability.

 

Websites that will help you prepare for the IELTS test

http://www.examenglish.com/

http://ielts-simon.com/

 

We encourage all of our clients, particularly those targeting a score of at least 8.0 in all 4 bands to use a qualified IELTS tutor before attempting the test. 

If you have used an IELTS tutor yourself and were impressed with them please let us know and we would be happy to share their details here for other applicants to benefit from.


What's a migration agent for?

Posted by Myer on July 23, 2014, 12:26 p.m. in Immigration

I’m sure that most people that I consult with wonder whether they could save themselves money and process the application themselves rather than incur the costs of using a registered migration agent. Until such time as you experience the migration process, it’s difficult to try to explain to a prospective client the value that we add to the process; however a recent client of ours probably appreciates the benefits of using a good registered migration agent more than most after his rather harrowing experience.

I consulted with a senior chef in South Africa in July 2013. Things progressed relatively smoothly in his particular case. He obtained the requisite score in his English language test, we obtained a positive skills assessment and his state sponsorship application was approved with, as we say in Australia “no dramas”.

We then went on to submit his visa application. It’s unusual to have problems at residence visa application stage. In our experience if problems do occur they usually occur at skills assessment or state sponsorship stage.

I was therefore shocked to say the least to receive an email from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection declining our client’s application without any prior correspondence.

In their opinion we had miscalculated our client’s points for work experience because they were of the opinion that the appropriate qualification for a chef was not a trade level qualification but rather an Associate Degree, Advanced Diploma or Diploma and they were of the opinion that 3 years of work experience would be deducted from our client’s total years of work experience in lieu of the correct level of qualification.

Unfortunately the skills assessment opinion was silent as to the date when our client was regarded as suitably skilled for the nominated occupation however we were convinced that our interpretation of policy was correct and the Departments was incorrect.

We attempted to point out to the Department the error in their interpretation and after politely responding to our submissions still held the view that their interpretation was correct and that as decisions cannot be overturned there was no further point to engaging in additional correspondence and suggested we appeal the decision. Problem is that only applicants or sponsors onshore can appeal decisions and we didn’t think it would be likely that the sponsoring state government would appeal the decision.

I had to make a decision as to what to tell my client. Whilst I try to limit the amount of anxiety and worry on the part of my clients I feel obligated to keep them informed of developments and I had to break the news of the decline decision to my clients who were understandably shattered. I undertook to do whatever I possibly could to reverse the decision however although they didn’t express their concerns to me I think that after reading the communication from the Department about an inability to reverse decisions they were less than optimistic.

All of this transpired whilst I was on a business trip and fortunately for me I have a very good team in the Melbourne office. They contacted the skills assessing authority who backed our interpretation of policy and to their credit were excellent in drafting a letter clarifying the interpretation of policy which we sent on to the Department.

After several anxious weeks the Department reversed the decision and approved our client’s application.

After the cheers in our offices died down and our hands stopped throbbing after all the high fives, in a more reflective mood, we contemplated our role and how, but for our intervention, this application would surely have been declined.

Our client, were he processing this application himself, would probably accept the decision at face value or if he was astute enough to contact the skills assessing authority, he would most likely not know the right questions to ask in order to get the response that would be required to challenge the Department’s decision. Assuming somehow that the required response was obtained from the assessing authority, he would then need to know how to escalate matters to more senior staff within the Department. Based on our previous experience, the Department would almost certainly not entertain his requests as these would not be couched in the relevant legal framework and he would probably be given the usual response that he can consider appealing the outcome. As I have noted above, overseas applicants cannot appeal. Only state and family sponsors can and states in principle do not appeal on behalf of individual applicants. The most likely outcome would be that our client would be caught up between the usual departmental red tape and call centres resulting in a financial loss to him in excess of AU$7000 in government application fees.

Whilst decisions like this are thankfully rare, the benefit that we bring to the process is often more subtle yet our involvement makes a material difference to the outcome of a client’s application in so many different ways.

We are in no way miracle workers but we do know the legal framework within which immigration decisions are situated and we know an error when we see one. This is based on our years of experience and the volume of work we have handled over the years. A Departmental error like this can never get past us. We also do know how to point out an error like this in a professional way and ask for a decision to be revisited due to a legal error having been made. This is unusual but certainly possible if you raise it in the right way with all the supporting evidence and documentation to back up your claim. I would go so far as to say this can only be done by a migration professional.

The decision to migrate to another country is probably the most important one you’ll ever make in your life. Migration is not a cheap exercise and real professional advice that has the potential to make a tangible difference where it matters is invaluable. I realise that the temptation is there to cut costs but doing so may result in an even higher cost, both financially and personally, later down the track particularly if there is an unexpected turn of events such as the one we encountered and successfully overcame. In the end, when you engage a migration agent to act on your behalf, what you are really paying for is professionalism, experience and peace of mind. 


State sponsorship: A comparative analysis

Posted by Anka on July 17, 2014, 5:05 p.m. in Immigration

There is a widespread misconception that obtaining sponsorship from a state is a straightforward process and having your occupation on the relevant list is all that’s required. This is quite far from the truth as we say time and again that having your occupation on a given list is no guarantee that sponsorship will be secured from that state.

Another thing applicants always forget is that there are 6 states and 2 territories in Australia and each have their own rules and criteria and ways of dealing with applications which often differ significantly.

I therefore decided to write a short blog article comparing the advantages and disadvantages of applying for sponsorship from the 8 jurisdictions in Australia. Let’s go in alphabetical order so no claims of favouritism can be made!

 

ACT

 

Advantages

- Wide range of occupations

- Low unemployment rate

- Applicants with close family members living in Canberra can access ‘closed’ occupations

- No additional criteria imposed on occupations (such as years of work experience, particular specialisation or registration in Australia)

 

Disadvantages

- IELTS 7 required for Speaking if the occupation is ‘open’

- IELTS 7 required for all 4 components if occupation is ‘limited’

- ‘Limited’ occupations need to be verified to confirm availability of jobs

- Not available to applicants living in another Australian state or territory

- Application fee payable

 

http://www.canberrayourfuture.com.au/workspace/uploads/documents/act-occupation-list-24-february-14c.pdf 

 

New South Wales

 

Advantages

- Highly attractive as many people want to live in Sydney

- Reasonably wide range of occupations

- No additional criteria imposed on occupations (such as years of work experience, particular specialisation or registration in Australia)

- No additional English language requirements (IELTS 6 being sufficient)

- Family members elsewhere in Australia not a problem

 

Disadvantages

- Very inefficient online application system

- High degree of competition for limited places

- Long processing time (3 months)

- Application fee payable

 

http://www.business.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/25147/NSW-State-Occupation-List.pdf

 

Northern Territory 

 

Advantages

 

- No additional English language requirements (IELTS 6 being sufficient) for most occupations

- Reasonable range of occupations for a small economy

- Any occupation can be nominated if positive employment prospects can be shown or if family members living in the NT

- Strict financial requirements which must be evidenced through documentation

- No application fee payable

 

Disadvantages

 

- ICT and some other occupations require job offers

 

http://www.australiasnorthernterritory.com.au/Working/bsm/nt-nominated-general/Pages/sol.aspx 

 

Queensland

 

Advantages

 

- Separate and much larger list for provisional visa (Subclass 489)

- Only two years of post-qualification work experience required

 

Disadvantages

 

- List heavily focused on health occupations

- Registration required if compulsory in Queensland

- Some occupations require a job offer in Queensland

- Need to express interest first and be invited by the state government

- Application fee payable

 

http://migration.qld.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/pdf/qsol-skilled-190.pdf

 

http://migration.qld.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/pdf/qsol-skilled-489.pdf

 

South Australia

 

Advantages

 

- Wide range of occupations

- Only 12 months of work experience required in the last 36 months

- Willing to accept work experience in a skilled occupation other than the nominated one

- IELTS requirements commensurate with the level of the nominated occupation

- Quick processing time (around 3-4 weeks)

- Family members elsewhere in Australia not a problem

- 489 holders can live in Adelaide

- No application fee

 

Disadvantages

 

- None

 

https://www.migration.sa.gov.au/snol_data 

 

Tasmania

 

Advantages

 

- Wide range of occupations

- Good prospects if you have studied there or have family in Tasmania

- Subclass 489 holders can live in Hobart

 

Disadvantages

 

- Most applicants require jobs

 

http://www.migration.tas.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/41927/List_SMP_2013-2014_25_Sept_2013.pdf

 

Victoria

 

Advantages

 

- No application fee

- Reasonable range of occupations

 

Disadvantages

 

- Trades occupations require 5 years of work experience 

- Having family in another part of Australia works against you

- All applications subject to a positive opinion from an industry panel 

- Provisional sponsorships (Subclass 489) require a job offer in regional Victoria

 

http://www.liveinvictoria.vic.gov.au/visas-and-immigrating/occupation-lists/state-nomination-occupation-list-for-victoria 

 

Western Australia

 

Advantages

 

- Reasonably wide range of occupations

- Relatively quick processing

 

Disadvantages

 

- IELTS 7 required for certain occupations

- At least three years of work experience required if applying from overseas

- Need to express interest first and be invited by the state government

- Application fee payable

- Some occupations require a job offer in Western Australia

- Application involves specific questions relating to life in Western Australia

- Provisional sponsorship (Subclass 489) may require a job offer or evidence of employment prospects

 

http://www.migration.wa.gov.au/SKILLEDMIGRATION/Pages/Occupationsindemand.aspx

 

Upcoming Seminars

Immagine Australia will be presenting a series of seminars in the locations below. To book, go to our website www.immagine-immigration.com/seminars/.

 

Singapore - 26 July

Seminar being held at Orchard Hotel on Saturday, 26 July at 11 am

Consultations being held at Orchard Hotel on 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 and 31 July. 

 

Hong Kong - 2 August

Seminar being held at The Royal Pacific Hotel and Towers in Kowloon on Saturday, 2 August at 11 am

Consultations being held at the The Royal Pacific Hotel and Towers on 2, 3, 4 and 5 August

 

South Africa

Johannesburg – 31 July

Seminar being held at The Michelangelo Hotel on Thursday, 31 July at 7 pm

Consultations being held at The Michaelangelo Hotel on 1, 2, 3, 17 and 18 August.

 

Cape Town – 4 August

Seminar being held at the Southern Sun Newlands Hotel on Monday, 4 August at 7 pm

Consultations being held at the Southern Sun Newlands Hotel on 5 and 6 August.

 

Durban – 7 August

Seminar being held at the Endless Horizons Boutique Hotel on Thursday, 7 August at 7 pm

Consultations being held at the Endless Horizons Boutique Hotel on 8, 9 and 10 August.

 

Botswana - Gaborone -  11 August

Seminar being held at Phakalane Golf Estate on Monday, 11 August at 7 pm

Consultations being held at the Phakalane Golf Estate on 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16 August.


Onwards and upwards for the Socceroos

Posted by Anka on July 10, 2014, 5:35 p.m. in Lifestyle

I don’t know about you but we at IMMagine have been gripped by World Cup fever since the last few weeks. Now that the cup is almost over and everyone is looking forward to the grand final on Sunday (Monday morning our time here!), it’s probably a good time to reflect on what the World Cup meant for Australia.

The first blow to Australia was dealt when the draw for the 2014 FIFA World Cup was held in Brazil in December last year and we were placed in the same group as Spain, the Netherlands and Chile, in other words, the title holders, the finalists and a very strong South American side respectively. No one believed for one minute that Australia could get out of this group. 

In the end, those predictions were not too far off. Australia did end up losing all three of its games and finished bottom of the group with 0 points and a -6 goal difference placing 30th out of 32 teams. This doesn’t sound so promising on paper but many Australians, including myself, believe that the final standings do not reflect the true quality of the football that the Socceroos have played and that we have much to be hopeful for particularly in connection with the 2015 AFC Asian Cup to be held in Australia next January.

The World Cup is a tournament and how far a team goes in any given World Cup has a lot to do with what teams they get in the draw and who they end up playing if they manage to make it out of the group. There is no doubt that Australia was placed in what was probably one of the toughest World Cup groups ever in which the previous title holders Spain were eliminated after only two games! In contrast, the other three teams representing, like Australia, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), namely Iran, Japan and South Korea, found themselves in much more balanced groups where they may have advanced had it not been for the less-than-mediocre football they played. It is my view, which is shared by many fans here and beyond, that Australia with their performance in such a difficult group would have had a good chance to advance had they been in the place of one of the other Asian teams.

The fact that the next edition of the Asian Cup will be held in Australia between 9 and 31 January 2015 and the promising football played by the team in this World Cup gives me and other fans renewed hope that Australia may be able to clinch the title for the first time on home ground in 6 months’ time! The host cities for that event will be Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Newcastle and Brisbane with no less than 7 games being played right here in Melbourne including 6 group games and one of the quarter finals. Australia’s group has South Korea, Oman and Kuwait. If Australia tops its group, the quarter final in Melbourne will feature Australia against the second-placed team from Group B which will be one of Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia, PR China or North Korea. All in all, a very exciting prospect!

As everyone knows, soccer has never been the most popular sport in Australia. However, we are a sports-loving nation and soccer is still right up there with Australian Rules football, rugby (league and union) and cricket. The team, now fondly nicknamed Socceroos, was first formed in 1922 but did not have much of a showing on the world stage until their qualification for and participation in the 1974 FIFA World Cup where they managed a draw against Chile and lost to East and West Germany. 

We had to wait until 2006 for Australia’s next qualification to the World Cup. This one was a different proposition to 1974 though and Australia came second and progressed from a group which also had Brazil, Croatia and Japan. In the round of 16 game, we played Italy and lost 1-0 by the barest of margins to the eventual champions. That group of Socceroos was seen as the ‘golden generation’ of Australian soccer. 

In countries with large migrant populations like Australia, playing a sport has traditionally been one of the best ways to integrate into the community and it has been no different here. As far as soccer is concerned, children of many Greek, Italian and Croatian migrants having inherited their forebears’ interest in soccer went on to play the sport in local and national leagues in Australia with many making it onto the Socceroos squad. This proud tradition continues to this day with the current Australian squad having Australian-born children of migrants from Croatia, Greece, Italy, Slovenia, the Netherlands, Japan, Indonesia, Samoa and the UK. The captain of the team, Mile Jedinak, is the son of Croatian migrants and the coach Ange Postecoglou was born in Greece.

As a country where almost 50% of the population has at least one parent born overseas, the diversity of our national team is perhaps not surprising. It is that diversity that will hopefully produce the next golden generation of Australian players and, who knows, maybe your children could be part of that future if you decide to make Australia your home.

 

Upcoming Seminars

Immagine Australia will be presenting a series of seminars in the locations below. To book, go to our website www.immagine-immigration.com/seminars/.

 

Singapore - 26 July

Seminar being held at Orchard Hotel on Saturday, 26 July at 11 am

Consultations being held at Orchard Hotel on 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 and 31 July. 

 

Hong Kong - 2 August

Seminar being held at The Royal Pacific Hotel and Towers in Kowloon on Saturday, 2 August at 11 am

Consultations being held at the The Royal Pacific Hotel and Towers on 2, 3, 4 and 5 August

 

South Africa

Johannesburg – 31 July

Seminar being held at The Michelangelo Hotel on Thursday, 31 July at 7 pm

Consultations being held at The Michaelangelo Hotel on 1, 2, 3, 17 and 18 August.

 

Cape Town – 4 August

Seminar being held at the Southern Sun Newlands Hotel on Monday, 4 August at 7 pm

Consultations being held at the Southern Sun Newlands Hotel on 5 and 6 August.

 

Durban – 7 August

Seminar being held at the Endless Horizons Boutique Hotel on Thursday, 7 August at 7 pm

Consultations being held at the Endless Horizons Boutique Hotel on 8, 9 and 10 August.

 

Botswana - Gaborone -  11 August

Seminar being held at Phakalane Golf Estate on Monday, 11 August at 7 pm

Consultations being held at the Phakalane Golf Estate on 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16 August.


Get me a visa so I can get a job!

Posted by Myer on July 2, 2014, 4:17 p.m. in Lifestyle

Australian employers overwhelmingly want candidates to have work rights and be physically present in Australia. They want you to have work rights so that they don’t have to act as sponsors which is what they would have to do if your visa does not entitle you to work in Australia.

Many of you are going to qualify for general skilled migration visas, all of which have full work rights for all family members and this is our preferred method of migration to Australia. Some of these general skilled migration visas are permanent residence visas and others are temporary visas [a pathway to obtaining permanent residence] but all have work rights.

Some of you are not going to be eligible for general skilled migration visas and might have to try to obtain an offer of employment, and sponsorship by an employer but this is the more difficult route [a route I referred to as the “bleeding knuckle route” at my seminar because you will have to knock on doors until your knuckles bleed].

It’s more difficult route because, unless you have work rights associated with your visa, employers will have to act as sponsors which includes making onerous undertakings to the Australian Government such as agreeing to repatriate you and your family and making financial commitments to training the Australian workforce.

It’s therefore a far easier option for an employer to recruit a migrant who has work rights even though that migrant might be less qualified.

Australian employers like to meet people face-to-face and securing a job offer is as much about your personality profile and attitude as it is your skills. This is why you need to be in Australia. It displays a level of commitment and readiness that you simply can’t achieve sitting in your home country.

A lot of Australian employers don’t really know what they need until they really need it, or in many cases until it's too late. This is why most of them won’t entertain offshore applications, because they have no idea of when you might be ready to start, and they wanted you yesterday.

You can use recruiters but don’t rely on them. I know this for a fact. A lot of recruiters overlook good quality migrants, because to them, a migrant is in the too hard basket. They present a delay in achieving their commission and as such get filed under ‘R’ for ‘Recycling’. The good ones do deal with migrants and see the skills and expertise rather than the quick commission cheque, but they aren't in ready supply. So don’t expect all recruiters to be able to solve your job search woes.

Going directly to employers is the key, alongside direct networking, LinkedIn, Facebook and industry events. Get out there and make yourself visible. Talk to people in the business, make phone calls (yes cold calls) and get your details spread far and wide. Don’t just sit in your hotel/motel room, friend’s house or Starbucks on free Wi-Fi sending your CV via online portals. It won’t work. Yes online search engines such as www.seek.com.au are useful and a good way to find jobs and employers but if you are sitting in Australia sending your CV out, you might as well be anywhere else in the world (refer to previous paragraph).

Finally, there are a few rules around ‘selling yourself’ that you need to bear in mind, after all this is essentially the key to it all – marketing yourself effectively to employers.

 

Some do’s:

Keep your CV simple, effective and relevant.

Tailor your CV and cover letter to the role you are applying for.

Build your LinkedIn profile and use this to network with people in the industry, but don’t ‘over-connect’.

Research the companies you are applying to, find out who they are, what they do and their core business values and goals (you can usually find this all on their website).

Contact industry associations or professional bodies as they may have a jobs board or ideas on how to reach fellow professionals.

Prepare yourself for the call/walk in, show you are serious and have done the research.

Be presentable, you can never ‘dress up’ at an interview if you are too casual; but you can dress down if your interviewers aren’t dressed as formally (remove the tie, jacket etc).

 

Some don’ts:

Don’t add a photo to your CV. Even if you fancy yourself as a GQ/Vogue model, leave it out.

Don’t overdo the task list in your CV’s. Keep it relatively short and focussed. Add in key achievements to show you not only can do the job but can do it well.

Don’t add in qualifications that you haven’t finished. This is a particularly strange trait for many countries. If you didn’t complete a degree, you don’t have a degree.

Don’t be over confident. Employers like confidence but not arrogance. Remember to talk about your skills and how you can accomplish the tasks required. You don’t have to talk about whether you met the queen or toured with Led Zeppelin.

Don’t put anything on your CV that you can’t explain. Nothing goes against you more than not being able to recall details from your CV accurately and clearly.

There are many other tips and tools that we utilise in the job search process but ultimately it comes down to hard work, patience and knocking on as many doors as you can.

For anyone out there doing this, good luck and for those of you out there contemplating doing this, hopefully the above gives you a little bit of guidance along the way.

Upcoming Seminars

Immagine Australia will be presenting a series of seminars in the locations below. To book, go to our website www.immagine-immigration.com/seminars/.

 

Singapore - 26 July

Seminar being held at Orchard Hotel on Saturday, 26 July at 11 am

Consultations being held at Orchard Hotel on 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 and 31 July. 

 

Hong Kong - 2 August

Seminar being held at The Royal Pacific Hotel and Towers in Kowloon on Saturday, 2 August at 11 am

Consultations being held at the The Royal Pacific Hotel and Towers on 2, 3, 4 and 5 August

 

South Africa

Johannesburg – 31 July

Seminar being held at The Michelangelo Hotel on Thursday, 31 July at 7 pm

Consultations being held at The Michaelangelo Hotel on 1, 2, 3, 17 and 18 August.

 

Cape Town – 4 August

Seminar being held at the Southern Sun Newlands Hotel on Monday, 4 August at 7 pm

Consultations being held at the Southern Sun Newlands Hotel on 5 and 6 August.

 

Durban – 7 August

Seminar being held at the Endless Horizons Boutique Hotel on Thursday, 7 August at 7 pm

Consultations being held at the Endless Horizons Boutique Hotel on 8, 9 and 10 August.

 

Botswana - Gaborone -  11 August

Seminar being held at Phakalane Golf Estate on Monday, 11 August at 7 pm

Consultations being held at the Phakalane Golf Estate on 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16 August.


Accountants dodge a bullet (sort of!)

Posted by Myer on June 18, 2014, 12:21 p.m. in Migration Quota

The Australian media has reported that the number of accountants allowed entry to Australia under the general skilled migration visa program will be cut from almost 10,000 per annum to about 5000. Each occupational group that is eligible for skilled migration to Australia is subject to an occupational ceiling which can be no more than 6% of that occupation’s workforce in Australia. The good news is that the occupation still appears on the Skilled Occupations List (SOL) which means that for the lucky 5000 accountants each year scoring sufficient points, they won’t need to apply for a state-sponsored visa.

It has long since been the source of conjecture in our industry as to when accountants would be removed from the Skilled Occupations List and relegated to the Consolidated Skilled Occupations List (CSOL). Occupations that only appear on the CSOL must have sponsorship from a state to make an application.

The Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency (AWPA), an independent body, developed the SOL based on labour market, education and training, migration and general economic and demographic data and stakeholder submissions back in 2010. Since then, AWPA advises the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) every year as to the occupations that it recommends to be kept on the SOL.

The Skilled Occupation List identifies occupations where independent skilled migrants will assist in meeting the medium and long term skill needs of the Australian economy. Independent migrants with skills in these occupations will assist in meeting skill needs that cannot be met through employer and state sponsored migration programs, or efforts aimed at employing, training, skilling and up-skilling Australians.

In addition, AWPA flags a number of occupations each year which are borderline in terms of their inclusion on the SOL. In 2014, there were 54 such occupations including the three accounting occupations. Some of the other occupations that were flagged by AWPA included various engineering, IT and some trades occupations. AWPA will continue to monitor these occupations for significant changes in labour market conditions and advise the Department accordingly in the coming years.

This year, the decision was made in the end to keep accountants on the SOL as the arguments in favour of the demand increasing for this occupation in the short to medium term were seen as being more compelling. It’s thought that the changes to taxation law and regulations will lead to a greater need for qualified accountants in Australia over the next few years.

I should also clarify that by accountants I’m not necessarily referring to chartered accountants. The bar as to who is considered to be an accountant in Australia is set fairly low, namely someone with 9 of the 12 courses that one would complete in Australia as part of a Bachelor of Accounting degree.

One doesn’t need any work experience to be classified as an accountant either, just good English language ability.

In the current immigration year [which ends on 30 June], 5475 accountants were invited to apply. 

As far as implications for the new immigration year are concerned, if the same level of demand occurs next year we will probably see pass marks for accountants start to rise in the latter months of the immigration year while accountants submitting expressions of interest prior to December 2015 should face a relatively low pass mark of 60 points.

Accountants need not panic at this stage however the drastic cut in the numbers does signal a concern for accountants and further trimming of the numbers could occur in the years to follow.

We would suggest any accountants thinking of migration to Australia need to act sooner rather than later.

On the whole, it’s more likely going forward that the Australian Government will continue to keep the SOL relatively stable as it has been for the last 4 years and regulate the entry of skilled professionals into the country through modifying the occupational ceilings as may be necessitated by labour market conditions. 

 

Upcoming Seminars

Immagine Australia will be presenting a series of seminars in the locations below. To book, go to our website www.immagine-immigration.com/seminars/.

 

Singapore - 26 July

Seminar being held at Orchard Hotel on Saturday, 26 July at 11 am

Consultations being held at Orchard Hotel on 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 and 31 July. 

 

Hong Kong - 2 August

Seminar being held at The Royal Pacific Hotel and Towers in Kowloon on Saturday, 2 August at 11 am

Consultations being held at the The Royal Pacific Hotel and Towers on 2, 3, 4 and 5 August

 

South Africa

Johannesburg – 31 July

Seminar being held at The Michelangelo Hotel on Thursday, 31 July at 7 pm

Consultations being held at The Michaelangelo Hotel on 1, 2, 3, 17 and 18 August.

 

Cape Town – 4 August

Seminar being held at the Southern Sun Newlands Hotel on Monday, 4 August at 7 pm

Consultations being held at the Southern Sun Newlands Hotel on 5 and 6 August.

 

Durban – 7 August

Seminar being held at the Endless Horizons Boutique Hotel on Thursday, 7 August at 7 pm

Consultations being held at the Endless Horizons Boutique Hotel on 8, 9 and 10 August.

 

Botswana - Gaborone -  11 August

Seminar being held at Phakalane Golf Estate on Monday, 11 August at 7 pm

Consultations being held at the Phakalane Golf Estate on 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16 August.