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Posted by Myer on April 8, 2020, 11:07 a.m. in Australia
7 April - COVID-19 (Coronavirus) - First entry to Australia
The Department has made some allowances with regards to the subclasses below under the General skilled migration category, namely those who have been approved visas and are yet to make their first entry into Australia.
Once your visa is approved, you are given a date by which you must make your first entry. Given the current travel bans, it may not be possible for some of you to make the first entry.
If you can't make the entry to Australia before the expiry of the first entry date, you will need to take the attached information sheet with you when you travel to Australia. The Department can cancel visas if you don't make your first entry date, however they won't seek to do this if you hold one of the visas below.
We don't know how long after the first entry date expires the Department will allow you to enter, so we strongly suggest that once the travel ban has been lifted , and your first entry date has expired, and that you make your trip to Australia as soon as you can.
? Skilled Independent (subclass 189)
? Skilled Nominated (subclass 190)
? Skilled Regional (subclass 489)
? Skilled Work Regional (subclass 491)
This information applies to visa holders who were outside of Australia when their visa was granted.
Requests for information
Some services relating to the visa application process may be impacted by COVID-19 and a range of services we rely on are increasingly unavailable.
This includes overseas panel doctors and visa medical appointments, English language testing facilities, and biometric collection.
You will be given additional time to complete checks and provide requested information.
Processing and allocation times – Subclass 887 visa
7 April - QLD Nomination Criteria
BSMQ has made following announcement for the Bridging Visa holders: s48 bar unable to lodge due to entry ban. These are applicants who have had a visa refused or cancelled since our last entry into Australia.
If an applicant is currently on a bridging visa and has been invited to lodge documents with BSMQ for a subclass 491 visa, they must notify Business and Skilled Migration Queensland of any past visa refusals or cancellations.
If an applicant has received a visa refusal or cancellation whilst on a bridging visa, they are likely to be subject to a section 48 bar which means they are unable to lodge a state nominated visa (and most other visas) onshore.
Unfortunately, during the COVID-19 pandemic, it not possible to go offshore to lodge a visa application, and then return to Australia.
This is because there is an entry ban on temporary visa holders returning to Australia at this time. If you are section 48 barred, BSMQ is unable to nominate for a subclass s491 visa and request that the application be withdrawn.
It may be possible to submit an EOI again at a later date once the entry ban is lifted if Queensland criteria continues to be met.
6 April - Temporary Skilled Visa Holders
There are around 139,000 temporary skilled visa holders, on either a 2 year or 4 year visa. They were provided the visa to fill a skills shortage - a shortage that may still be present when the crisis has passed.
Consequently, those visa holders who have been stood down, but not laid off, will maintain their visa validity and businesses will have the opportunity to extend their visa as per normal arrangements. Businesses will also be able to reduce the hours of the visa holder without the person being in breach of their visa conditions.
These visa holders will also be able to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation this financial year. Those visa holders who have been laid off due to the coronavirus should leave the country in line with their existing visa conditions if they are unable to secure a new sponsor. However, should a 4-year visa holder re-employed after the coronavirus pandemic their time already spent in Australia will count towards their permanent residence skilled work experience requirements.
2 April - PTE Academic COVID-19 update and Free childcare for Australian essential workforce
The Pearsons testing centres have announced a suspension if testing centres until future notice due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Some centres are still open but restrict the number of test takers for each session. A full list of locations and information about testing is avaliable here.
The Prime minister announced free childcare for Australian parents to ensure essential workers can continue their roles.
From next week, childcare centres will be able to access Commonwealth funding equal to 50 per cent of their pre-COVID-19 revenue (up the existin hourly rate cap) in addition to JobKeeper payments to retain employees, where eligible.
30 March - Wage Subsidy Announced By Australian Government
The Federal Government announced an AU$1,500 fortnightly wage subsidy.The subsidy is an integral part of the $130 billion economic stimulus package announced by the Australian Government in response to the coronavirus.
Although the payment is to be made to employers there is a legal obligation on employers to ensure they pass on the full wage subsidy to employees.
It will be backdated to include anyone who has been stood down due to coronavirus. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the JobKeeper scheme would benefit the hardest-hit sectors.
"This $1,500 payment is a flat payment and is the equivalent of around 70 per cent of the median wage and represents about 100 per cent of of the median wage in those sectors most heavily impacted by the coronavirus like retail, like hospitality and tourism," he said.
To be eligible, an employee must be an Australian citizen, the holder of a permanent visa or a Special Category (Subclass 444) Visa Holder. It's not extended to those on temporary visas such as subclass 482 work visas
27 MARCH - Vetassess Trades - alternative interview assessments
VETASSESS is to conduct Technical Interview assessments by online video conferencing during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak commencing 1 April.
This applies to assessments for non-licensed occupations as opposed to licensed occupations. It means the Technical Interviews can be conducted outside a VETASSESS-approved venue such as in the applicant’s workplace or home.
26 MARCH - COVID-19
Australia has chosen not to go into total lockdown to flatten our curve. Most state borders have been closed and of course our national borders as well.
We are thankful though that the Department of Home Affairs is still processing visas as are skills assessing authorities. State Governments are also still processing state sponsorship applications.
We are fortunate that some time ago we put into place systems that enable us to work remotely and even though my colleagues and I have, for the past week, been working from home we are able to still effectively process applications as they are filed electronically.
When people used to ask why I don’t have branch offices abroad I used to joke that I could do my job from Mars if I had a good Internet connection. I never thought that I might have to test that theory one day :-)
The vast majority of our clients are overseas and don’t need to travel to Australia for the purposes of securing employment to process their General Skilled Migration Visas.
The Prime Minister has tried to limit the damage to the economy by implementing a range of policies aimed at socially distancing Australians without going into total lockdown. It’s a controversial decision and many Australians (myself included) believe that the economic fallout would be sharper but of shorter duration were we to go into total lockdown.
The Government’s thinking is that the vast majority of Covid 19 cases in Australia are as a result of international travellers arriving in Australia and the closure of our borders and the social distancing measures will help to flatten the curve whilst at the same time causing minimum damage to the economy.
Only time will tell whether this is the correct strategy but given the length of time it takes to process a General Skilled Migration Visa application (approximately 18 months) and given that migrants are given 12 months to then visit Australia most of our clients are thinking longer term.
We will continue to use this blog to update you on developments.
Posted by Myer on Jan. 24, 2020, 9:31 a.m. in Australia
Posted by Myer on Nov. 29, 2019, 2:39 p.m. in Australia
We always explain to clients when we meet them that the eligibility we describe in that initial assessment is not in fact a description of their eligibility today but a snapshot of their future eligibility. Why? Because there are generally months of work, English exams and third party applications that must be completed before any Visa can be filed for Australia. And it is only when an application is filed that the clock stops. Changes from that day forward should not impact them.
The past two weeks have served to illustrate that specific point with the advent of a new range of points for those seeking to live permanently in Australia.
As we have written about before the Federal Government is increasingly devolving the power to decide which skilled migrants get residence of Australia to the State and Territorial Government.
Applicants are left then having to please two masters.
Each State has its own list of occupations it wishes to support, its own quotas of each occupation and its own criteria for each occupation.
Whilst the pass mark to secure a general skilled migration visa is set to remain at 65 points (according to the Federal Government) it’s clear that many more people are going to be meeting that general pass mark and to quote John F. Kennedy, ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’. Most applicants will now be able to score between 5 and 25 more points than before the recent changes.
What isn’t changing is national (federal) quotas but there sure as heck is going to be an awful lot more people going scoring more than 65 points than was previously the case.
In an environment where the Federal Government is seeking to cut levels of migration it leads to only one conclusion, which is paradoxical - if you give more people more points how do you cut numbers when you don’t increase the pass mark?
Answer? The State Governments will be forced to change their own criteria. We are already seeing some evidence of that.
State governments have, even prior these changes, been feeling the pressure under the State nomination program (too many applicants, not enough places).
We are in no doubt that this pressure will increase notwithstanding the additional 14,000 extra places available for the newly created 491 (5-year work to residence) regional Visa. These additional places aren’t, in my opinion, sufficient to cope with what will be many more applicants capable of scoring more than 65 points.
Prior to the November 16 changes we often saw State governments open and close State nomination programs within 24 hours of the new immigration year beginning on 1 July.
Just this past week we saw Queensland open and fill (then close) their entire annual quota for the 190 (permanent resident visa) within 24 hours. You snooze you lose.
Clearly States are under pressure with a limited number of places available and an almost insatiable demand on the part of migrants for these places as they are pushed in the direction of the States by the Federal Government.
States then find themselves in a difficult situation. They have to balance the needs of the local economy by making sure that the migrants they are sponsoring are satisfying the skills needed by employers in their State whilst still providing pathways for some international students to use the State nomination system to obtain permanent residence.
As to how States achieve this balancing act is yet to be seen but we fully expect, and are starting to see evidence of additional and new requirements being added (or planned) for specific occupations.
For example, Tradesmen are in demand in most locations but most Tradesmen cannot score even 65 points let alone more. We predict that those sorts of occupations will not have to satisfy other criteria and the States will keep things relatively simply for this group.
Other occupations however might, as an example, have a minimum number of years of work experience in that occupation added (we saw at least one State recently add, as a minimum, three years of work whereas previously they did not), or demand a higher than ‘standard’ English.
So it is clear that some occupations that are heavily oversubscribed such as ICT occupations will face higher thresholds to secure state support
Whilst our challenge as consultants is to try and anticipate which occupations might appear on State lists with our clients in mind, so too do State governments have to balance a range of competing interests in drafting their own lists.
We are in close contact with most of the decision makers in the more popular States and we have a good handle on the direction the process is heading, even if they themselves have not yet worked out all the details.
It is our job to keep our clients at the front of the pack chasing state nomination given it is increasingly the only of securing visas for most people and the relationships we have built up with the state decision makers is critical in maintaining that advantage.
Boris Johnson has repeatedly expressed admiration for Australia’s points test in his UK election campaign and one can only hope that he designs a point system that is more transparent than Australia’s system unless of course he enjoys playing chess.
Posted by Myer on Sept. 27, 2019, 3:28 p.m. in Australia
Tradesmen or Tradies as they are known in Australia are going to be one of the types of occupations to be major beneficiaries from some of the changes to be made to general skilled migration visa policy on 16 November. Three weeks of consultations in South Africa have made it abundantly clear that it will be easier for Tradies to qualify for state-sponsored regional (work to residence) visas in Australia.
On 16 November the Australian government will introduce a new general skilled migration visa called the subclass 491 visa. It replaces the 489 visa and is essentially a state-sponsored provisional regional visa that does not require one to have a job offer. It’s not a permanent residence visa but leads to permanent residence when you satisfy the conditions of the 491 visa. It is essentially a work to residence visa where one is sponsored by a state government as opposed to an employer.
One needs to score 65 points for a general skilled migration visa and it has traditionally been difficult for tradesmen to reach this score. That, our analysis suggests, will change in November.
That’s principally because their qualifications, unlike degrees are only worth 10 points and not 15 and also because the English language test is academic in nature and not technical and most of the tradesmen are blessed with technical expertise. The point being we all have different strengths.
I once went on a golfing trip with some of my friends. We all had different occupations including lawyer, plumber, cardiologist and accountant. The external putter sleeve popped out of it’s mooring on my golf bag and the accountant, cardiologist and I tried for about 15 minutes to reconnect the sleeve at which point I had resigned myself to having to buy another golf bag when the plumber walked up, bent the putter tube and popped it into it’s mooring. We looked at him as if he had just walked on water.
I offer the example above as to how different occupations have different skill sets and ways to solve problems.
From November state sponsorship for the state-sponsored provisional (work to residence) regional visa is going to be worth 15 points as opposed to the current 10 points.
To give you a practical example if you use the example of a 35 year old plumber with at least 11 years of experience in the trade with average English-language ability he would, under current policy score the following points:
Age – 25 points
Trade qualification – 10 points
Work experience in the nominated trade occupation – 15 for eight or more years of work experience after considered suitably skilled
English-language – 0 points for competent English, 10 points for proficient English and 20 points for superior English. It’s not particularly easy to get 10 points for proficient English because points are given for the lowest of the four bands (reading, writing, listening and speaking) and not the overall score.
State sponsorship/support – 10 points for the state-sponsored provisional regional visa.
Total potential score = is 60 points which is 5 short of the current pass mark of 65 required to secure the visa.
Unless the electrician obtained 10 points for their English-language ability - a high bar which most cannot achieve - it’s not that common for tradesmen to reach this score because of the reasons mentioned above.
From November of this year however state sponsorship for this type of visa is worth 15 points and not 10 which means that our electrician could still obtain 0 points for English-language but reach the threshold of 65 points.
Australia is looking for tradies and that’s why their occupations appear on so many of the state government occupation ‘wish lists’, it’s just until now the government hasn’t been able to draft an immigration policy capable of providing them with a pathway to residence.
The biggest benefit of a general skilled migration visa is that it gives the holder full work rights as well as his spouse or partner if he has one and children can attend government schools without paying international student fees. With fewer employers wanting to “sponsor” workers for work visas the general skilled migration visa greatly improves employability. Tradesmen only have to search on recruitment related websites such as seek.com.au to see the vast number of jobs available for tradies. The ’chicken and egg’ still exists (no work visa no job but no job without the visa) - most employers and recruiters want applicants to have visas with work rights such as general skilled migration visas. This can really only be broken by being prepared to travel to Australia and stay till that one employer willing to play the visa game is found.
This type of general skilled migration visa isn’t a permanent residence visa but leads to permanent residence once our electrician lives in “regional” Australia for a period of three years (of a five year period) and earns an annual salary of AUD53,900 for each of those three years which isn’t a very high salary in Australia.
On this type of visa you can’t live and work in metropolitan areas of Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Gold Coast but the rest of Australia from November will be regarded as regional including many state capitals including Adelaide, Hobart, Canberra and Darwin (if you’re brave enough). Many of the tradesmen that I consulted with in South Africa are living in regional parts of South Africa and many of them wouldn’t want to live in the Metropolitan areas mentioned above and face higher property prices, higher cost of living and increased congestion and they wouldn’t see living in regional Australia as a hardship.
One of the most frequent comments I get from people is that they don’t want to immigrate on a “risky” visa where they might face the prospect of having to return home if things don’t work out. The type of general skilled migration visa I’m referring to isn’t particularly “risky” because of the very few requirements that have to be satisfied to progress to permanent residence. It might be somewhat restrictive as to where you can live and work until you acquire permanent residence but it’s not particularly risky.
Ever since the November changes were announced earlier on this year I felt that these changes were largely implemented to benefit occupations such as Tradies, overrepresented in terms of occupations appearing on state sponsorship lists but largely underrepresented in terms of visa approvals for general skilled migration visas. This imbalance is going to be corrected with the November changes.
Posted by Myer on July 13, 2019, 12:09 a.m. in Australia
Last week South Australia released their new state sponsorship list and what ensued can only be described as a visa lolly scramble.
Most people in Australia and New Zealand know what a lolly scramble is but in order to explain it I turned to the fountain of all (web-based) knowledge Wikipedia and they described it as “a children’s party game in Australia and New Zealand, in which candies are scattered on the floor and children scramble to get their share.” They also described the phrase used outside of New Zealand to be uttered when hitting one's friend in the testicles. With friends like these who needs enemies, right?
For the record I’m very pro-South Australia both as an immigration destination as well as a state sponsorship program. They sponsor the most diverse range of occupations, the criteria for state sponsorship are transparent and they have some interesting and innovative pathways to obtaining state sponsorship that most other states don’t have.
So it pains me to write a blog that might be critical of their State migration program but last week’s events would have been worthy of a Quentin Tarantino script.
South Australia is generally amongst the first states to produce their state sponsorship list at the commencement of the immigration year (1 July) and we received notification that the list would be open mid-afternoon on Tuesday 2 July.
Before one can submit a state sponsorship application on behalf of a client you need a positive skills assessment and English-language tests and to make sure that the applicant scores sufficient points for the visa type applied for and some occupations face higher point scores in order to obtain state sponsorship than others.
In the weeks prior to 1 July we obtained all the relevant documentation from clients of ours interested in migrating to South Australia and made sure that we had all of this documentation on hand in preparation for the release of the state sponsorship lists because no state government (including South Australia) ever releases the annual quota of a particular occupation that they will sponsor. As soon as that quota is filled the occupation is closed and one has to wait for the next immigration year or alternatively see if another state would sponsor your occupation.
We were are all acutely aware of the importance of being first to submit a client’s state sponsorship application and compete with applicants and agents all around the world because in previous years some occupations appeared as unavailable for state sponsorship within minutes of the lists publication so in that heightened mood of anticipation we eagerly awaited the publication of the list.
The list of occupations did not disappoint, loaded with a wide variety of occupations but within minutes of the portal becoming live the website crashed. At regular intervals over the next 24 hours we attempted to submit state sponsorship applications and I even took the precaution of sleeping with my phone next to my bed and asked a client in South Africa to check throughout our Melbourne night (South African day) and call me if the site became live again.
At approximately 4:30 PM Melbourne time the next afternoon, without any warning the portal for submitting state sponsorship applications became available and we spent the next four hours submitting as many state sponsorship applications as possible, especially for those occupations at risk of not appearing on other state sponsorship lists.
The submission of a state sponsorship application requires one to complete a six page online application (that cannot be pre-populated with information) and uploading various supporting documents. A good organized consultant can submit an application in 20 to 30 minutes.
We managed to submit 11 out of 12 potential applications which was an exceptionally good effort under the circumstances.
There is nothing fundamentally wrong with this process of accepting state sponsorship applications and it is preferable to the New South Wales “black hole” system of ranking expressions of interest in terms of points and inviting the highest scoring (without releasing any other information about time frames, point scores of competing applicants et cetera) or Victoria’s system of sponsoring the most employable (in their opinion) of applicants or the ACT points matrix (and no this doesn’t involve Keanu Reeves).
Perhaps South Australia just needs a more robust IT infrastructure (I have several excellent clients I could refer them to that just need state sponsorship) but some of my newer staff that haven’t experienced the great South Australia lolly scramble were looking for some reassurance that this type of thing only happens once a year.
Given the fact that the federal government has as its stated immigration plan to encourage regional migration and as Adelaide is the largest regional city South Australia has much to gain through the changes to the general skilled migration visa program to be implemented on 16 November.
Hopefully by one July of next year they won’t have a system that feels like a game of lolly scramble outside of New Zealand.
- Myer Lipschitz, Melbourne Office
Posted by Myer on May 26, 2019, 9:21 p.m. in Australia
It was supposed to be the “unloseable” election, so how did the Labor party manage to wake up on Sunday morning nursing an almighty hangover from Saturday’s general election in Australia? Already the memes are out with perhaps the cruelest one being “losing the “unloseable” election Bill Shorten (leader of the opposition) shall forever be known as Billary”.
The ruling Coalition government (a coalition of Liberal and National parties) went into this election as rank underdogs, extremely unpopular in the polls partly as a result of the electorate being fed up with the party had changed prime ministers twice, resulting in 3 leaders in the last 6 years, as well as allegations of bullying female party members. This coupled with an environmental policy (a commitment to meet its global emissions target (of 26% to 28% below 2005 levels by 2030) relatively was pauce compared to the Labor policy (commitment to reducing Australia’s pollution by 45 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030 and net zero pollution by 2050) meant that Labor were clear frontrunners in the buildup to the election.
Labor’s election platform incorporated wide-ranging economic policies aimed at redistribution of wealth but ended up alienating much of its traditional base such as retirees as well as those reliant on the mining industry to provide job security, particularly in Queensland.
The number one concern for Labor voters was the environment, the number one concern for Coalition voters was the economy and it is ironic that Labor enjoyed some of its strongest support in wealthier electorates and were hammered in some of the poorer electorates proving that concern about the environment is considered a luxury when you are concerned about losing your job and providing for your family.
Perhaps the starkest example of how this played out was in the relatively affluent electorate of Warringah where our ex prime minister, Tony Abbott who held a seat for 25 years lost to an independent Zali Steggall who campaigned largely on the basis of climate change. Contrast this result to many of the Queensland electorates, particularly those reliant upon dirty energy for jobs. The proposed Adani coal mine has been seen as a symbol of Labor’s failure in Queensland. Whilst nationally a majority of Australians think the multi-billion-dollar project should be scrapped 61 versus 20 per cent, in rural Queensland 48 per cent of people want the coal mine built, with 38 per cent against.
The project has been a lightning rod for climate change activists and a source of tension within both Labor and the Coalition.
It was an election in which the economy played a part as well, after years of budget deficits, the Coalition reported a budget surplus in the current year and promised to return some of this surplus to the electorate by way of delayed tax cuts. Labor on the other hand spoke about economic redistribution of wealth making those “in the top end of town” pay more by way of increased taxes and the Coalition portrayed Labor as fiscally irresponsible and raised the prospect of future generations having to pay for Labor’s largess. Labor raised the prospect of future generations having to pay for the Coalition’s irresponsible environmental policies.
In the end voters in Australia chose greater economic stability over environmental issues. Of course this is a gross oversimplification and analysts are still trying to ascertain the reason for Labor’s loss but it would seem to me that a good message of climate change got lost in a complex set of policies aimed at wealth redistribution alienating many of Labor’s traditional grassroots supporters.
At the date of writing this blog only 76% of votes have been tallied but if a party or coalition of parties wins 77 seats in the House of Representatives, it can govern in its own right, rather than relying upon the support of crossbenchers (or independents) to form a government. Five seats are still in doubt but the Coalition is forecast to win 77 seats.
Of course it’s all going to be tricky for the coalition government to pass legislation because they don’t hold a majority in the Senate but that’s a story for another blog.
So where does this all leave us in terms of immigration policy, particularly as far as the types of visas that our offshore clients are particularly interested in namely skilled visas and parent visas?
As far as parents are concerned, it seems as if the cap of 15,000 Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visas may be granted each year will hold. This was Coalition policy going into the election whereas Labor was in support of an unlimited quota of these visas. This visa doesn’t grant parents permanent residence (it’s not to be confused with the contributory parent visa) but because processing times of the contributory parent visa application are so long, the sponsored parent temporary visa was seen as a means to reunite parents with families (albeit temporarily) for periods of 5 or 10 years depending upon the amount of money they wish to pay.
As for a skilled visas concerned there will be a greater emphasis upon regional growth with an additional 23,000 extra regional visas, which will have the condition of requiring migrants to live and work in regional Australia for three years before they can apply for permanent residency. If this seems generous bear in mind that most of these visa places were appropriated from the independent visas that don’t require state nor family sponsorship.
The amendments introduce a revised points system including:
In short it’s going to be easier to relocate to regional Australia but more difficult to immigrate to non-regional areas. People often struggle with the concept as to what is regional Australia. It is often perceived as having to live in the outback, surrounded by wild dingoes and kangaroos but from November the definition will include all of Australia except for Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
As a general rule of thumb if you were to drive for approximately 1.5 hours from the centre of Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and the Gold Coast you would be in regional Australia. In other words some relatively large cities such as Adelaide and Canberra will be included in the definition of regional and whilst you might find a few wild politicians running around Canberra, it’s highly unlikely that you will find any dingoes.
- Myer Lipschitz, Melbourne Office
Posted by Myer on March 29, 2019, 8:43 p.m. in Australia
Earlier this week our Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, made the announcement of a 15% reduction in the annual migration quota from 190,000 to 160,000 ostensibly to reduce infrastructure pressure in the major cities of Melbourne and Sydney with the introduction of two new visa subclasses that encourage regional migration. When you examine the detail the announcement it should be seen for what it is, electioneering for the upcoming general election in May.
The coalition government is behind in the polls and needs to appease voters, particularly in Sydney (where 63% of those polled feel levels of migration are too high) and Melbourne as the growth in infrastructure cannot keep pace with the net migration levels. It was in the context of this background that the Prime Minister made his recent announcement.
“The roads are clogged, the buses and trains are full, the schools are taking no more enrolments. I hear what you are saying, I hear you loud and clear. That’s why we need to improve how we manage population growth in this country.”
The cut to migration levels wasn’t really a cut at all. Last year Australia approved 162,000 permanent residence visas (notwithstanding the fact that the annual quota was 190,000 for last year) so in practical terms there hasn’t been a reduction or cut at all.
One also has to bear in mind that if you add students, work visa holders, those on working holidays and long-term visitors net migration is actually approximately 236,000. If we just look at international students last year, there were nearly 700,000 international students in the country. This was an increase of 11 per cent from the previous year, or some 76,000 extra students living in Australia and I’m sure a fair few of them would be clogging up buses and trains in Sydney and Melbourne.
The government is proposing granting students an extra year of post study work rights if they study in regional Australia as an added inducement not to study in the major cities and this is tantamount to obtaining a three-year post study work visa compared to the two-year post study work visa available to those completing degrees in major cities and this may result in a short term trend to divert students away from Sydney and Melbourne but ultimately students will gravitate to where the jobs are and if those jobs are in the major cities students will ultimately relocate to those areas.
Further to the reduction and to help with the ‘congestion busting’ policy, two new visas were announced earlier this week to come into effect in November 2019 namely:
Under these new visas, migrants will be required to live and work in a regional area of Australia for at least three years before they are eligible to apply for permanent residence and will have up to 5 years in which to meet these requirements.
The definition of regional Australia seems to be expanded to include anywhere in Australia apart from Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and the Gold Coast.
Simply put, the government has extended the required length of time needed to spend in regional Australia by one year, and have now allowed the ACT, Wollongong and Newcastle to be called regional areas.
Apart from wanting to ease the congestion that migrants cause to the major metropolitan cities we are told that there are 40,000 jobs in regional Australia that employers cannot fill and the government is aiming to fill regional skill shortages through the development and implementation of these 2 visas as well as signing designated area migration agreements with state governments aimed at filling skill shortages in occupations that might not otherwise be available for other types of visas such as work visas because the skill level of these jobs might be lower.
I’m sure that there are many positions that Australians might not be willing to fill in regional Australia, perhaps because they are lower skilled or have lower wages but many of the occupations on general skilled migration visa lists will not be suitable for jobs in regional Australia. I’m referring to occupation such as marketing manager, organisation and methods analyst, many IT occupations to name a few and I’m not sure that the type of industry in regional Australia can accommodate these skills. While I’m sure that many trades are needed in regional Australia together with agriculture and horticultural occupations I’m not sure that the size and complexity of industry in regional Australia can accommodate many of the skills listed on the list of occupations suitable for general skilled migration visas.
If the Australian government was sincere about creating regional development schemes they would reward employers for creating jobs in regional Australia and would consider incentives such as tax holidays for employers relocating to regional Australia. Migrants will generally follow jobs and if there are sufficient jobs in decent occupations in regional Australia the scheme will work however no amount of menial jobs in regional Australia would attract and retain sufficient number of migrants beyond the grant of permanent residence.
So in essence what we are getting is the same number of resident visa approvals as last year (no cut it all) and 2 new visas which require applicants to live in regional Australia for three years as opposed to two. Sounds like much ado about nothing to me and I think that the cynical electorate will see this for what it is, more political posturing and smoke and mirrors aimed at restoring voter confidence in a disillusioned political environment.
- Myer Lipschitz, Director
Posted by Iain on March 15, 2019, 3:52 p.m. in Australia
Earlier this week the Australian Federal government released its twice-yearly update of occupations that it has added (or removed, or shifted to some other list).
As one might expect this has led to a flurry of enquiries from people whose occupations have suddenly appeared; in particular, on the Medium and Long Term Strategic Shortage List (MLTSSL).
In many cases, we have had to reluctantly dampen their enthusiasm as they understandably, but mistakenly, believe the Australian government has opened the door for a number of occupations. They potentially have if a lot of preconditions are met. It is important to understand how the Australians set pass marks for ‘nominated occupations’ (you get ’in’ to Australia by demonstrating that you meet the qualifications and work of one particular occupation). Being on this list often means very little in terms of your chances of actually qualifying to live in that country.
Take as an example a Food Technologist.
For reasons that the Australian Federal government never explains, it has decided that it wants to add this occupation to the MLTSSL. It is logical to assume that they want more Food Technologist, right?
Not necessarily. It is interesting that on the day the Federal Government released its lists, the state governments did not do likewise although one State has added it to their list (with conditions). Would you be interested in living there though?
It is important to understand that Australia operates both national and state occupation "wish lists”. To have any chance of success many applicants on the MLTSSL often need the support of one of the states or territories.
The fact that the pass mark for each nominated occupation "floats" (it can go up or down) means there is an element of prediction required in this game to determine whether someone has an acceptable chance of qualifying or not.
The minimum selection point for a Food Technologist, or any other occupation on this list, is 65. In its pure form, selection is based on supply and demand - with all Food Technologists competing with each other for one of the available places within the annual quota set aside for this particular occupation. The greater the number of available places and the lower the demand, the closer to 65 the pass mark should be. Where annual quotas are not met, the calculation is simple, the pass mark should be 65.
The reality is there are very few occupations where the annual quota is being filled, yet there are no occupations with pass marks of 65.
It is almost certain that Food Technologist are going to require at least 70 points to get a Permanent Resident Visa.
Is this a case of the Australians not being able to do mathematics?
Although I don't rule that out, the answer is actually more likely to be found in politics.
The Australians publicly state that they will select around 2000 Expressions of Interest in each draw, but of late they have been selecting less than half that number. The demand for those 2000 places has not fallen. The result of lowering the numbers selected is to drive pass marks for each occupation higher.
The Australians are a couple of months away from national elections, and over the past 18 months, immigration has been the hot button issue in virtually every poll. The voters are concerned about immigration and there is no doubt that the good folk of Melbourne and Sydney are rightfully asking the question of why they should have to absorb several million more people when their own children cannot afford to buy a house in their own home city. Melbourne is rightfully proud of its place as one of the most liveable cities in the world but that liveability is clearly under threat as more and more people settle there.
Another really big issue this election is energy costs. Australia is firmly tethered to fossil fuels but has also committed to the Paris Agreement, and a little bit like the Americans, have a powerful fossil fuel lobbying industry. Despite the reality they have a lot of sunshine, and lord knows enough hot air blowing every which way, at least at a Federal level this has led to little commitment to renewable energy through todal, wind and solar. For the naysayers, Elon mask recently saved South Australia further electricity outages by installing Tesla batteries on a commercial scale.
Another resource they are also short of, at least where it is often needed, is fresh water. Rainfall in many parts of Australia is very high but it doesn't always fall where it can be easily or economically ‘piped’ to where it is needed or available to be used for hydro-electric generation. That means increasing water and energy prices which is also very sensitive as an election issue. (Everyone likes the idea of going "green" unless it hits them in the pocket it seems).
As Professor Tim Flannery argued some years ago, Australia is already overpopulated and has and carrying capacity of perhaps 8 million people. The population is now 25 million. There are those that trash his research but it is solid and reflects the reality that Australia is by and large arid and consistent rain does not fall where the demand is highest for it. As a consequence, there is serious competition over allocation of water rights between rural and urban consumers. Intensive commercial farming is destroying soils and draining aquifers and adding more and more people does not seem sensible in terms of a sustainable future.
As a short-term measure, perhaps, the current administration has proposed forcing more temporary residents to spend five years in "regional" Australia before they can secure their permanent resident visas and move to one of the big capital cities (Adelaide being the exception).
Of course, assuming they lose the election, this policy may be rejected or adopted by the next Administration. My bet, given the sensitivity of immigration to the average Australian, is whichever government sits on the Treasury benches in May, will see through this proposal, irrespective of what they might be saying out on the hustings. That will mean those entering on temporary resident visas will need to spend five years out in the regions, up from the current two years now.
All political parties I suspect are going to continue restricting entry to a lot of the skills that Australia needs if only to further bring down house prices in cities like Melbourne and Sydney (although tighter lending requirements by banks, applying the law restricting foreign buyers more tactically, already seems to have caused a 10% drop in home values in Sydney this year alone with Melbourne not far behind).
Over the past 18 months then we have also seen a tightening bias in terms of the number of Permanent Resident Visas being issued and the government has not met its own yearly quotas as a result.
They have all but eliminated the “work to residence” pathway for around 400 highly skilled occupations. For those people, with employment in Australia but who cannot get enough points to qualify or who are not working in an occupation on one of the ‘right' lists, they can work for two years, with the possibility of a two year renewal, but then they will be told to leave the country. Not might be, will be….
This has all come about because of the politics of immigration and I have always said that few countries are as sensitive to the politics of immigration than Australia.
Late this week it does seem that some of the state government's got the memo and some of the occupations that have been added to the MLTSSL have started appearing on state lists. That is great news because the pass marks for those who are able to garner the support of the states is 65. In this game there is light years between 65 and 70 as a point score.
I would caution however anyone getting all excited then about seeing their occupation on the the latest MLTSSL. It's a positive sign but you should proceed with caution as nothing in this game is ever as it might first appear.
Until next week...
Posted by Myer on March 13, 2019, 1:06 p.m. in Australia
On 11 March certain changes were made to the lists of occupations suitable for different subclasses of visas in Australia, and if you have been reading these changes as reported in the media, you would be excused for being confused. The problem is that the media reporting treats these changes as being changes to a single list when in reality there are different lists that apply to different types of visas.
The purpose of this blog is to highlight some of the changes that have occurred to general skilled migration visas (these visas are points tested and not dependent upon obtaining sponsorship/ by an employer in Australia.
As most of our clients tend to be overseas and don’t hold offers of employment in Australia I’ve concentrated on the changes to the lists of occupations for general skilled migration visas and have not concentrated on the changes that have occurred to those visas that require sponsorship/nomination by an employer in Australia.
The general skilled migration visa list consists of three separate schedules or parts namely the Medium and Long-Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL), the Short Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) and the Regional Occupation List (ROL).
The advantage of being in an occupation that is on the MLTSSL is that if one scores sufficient points one can qualify for an independent permanent resident visa that doesn’t require you to be sponsored by a state government. There are eight states or territories in Australia that all produce list of occupations in short supply in that particular state for the current immigration year but the independent visa doesn’t require your occupation to be in short supply in a particular state, it’s generally assumed, because your occupation is on the MLTSSL that your skills are in demand across the whole of Australia.
Occupations that appear on the STSOL and the ROL require state sponsorship; in other words there has to be a need for your occupation in a particular state. The difference between the two schedules is that the regional occupation list confines applicants to qualifying for visas that require them to spend at least two years living in "regional Australia".
Certain occupations were added to the MLTSSL schedule namely:
Arts administrator or manager
Dancer or choreographer
Mining engineer (excluding petroleum)
Engineering professional not elsewhere classified
Environmental research scientist
Environmental scientist (not elsewhere classified)
Life scientist (general)
Life scientists not elsewhere classified
Physicist (this occupation was previously limited to medical physicists only)
Natural and physical science professionals not elsewhere classified
Software and applications programmers not elsewhere classified
Telecommunications network planner
The lists of occupations are reviewed twice a year. Sometimes lists don't change, but on other occasions, there are significant changes to the lists such as the one that occurred yesterday. Some of the occupations had previously appeared on the MLTSSL, were removed and now added again and other occupations hadn’t previously appeared on this list.
The implications of your occupation appearing on the MLTSSL are potentially significant and the fact that so many occupations have been added to the list is evidence of the government’s support of a program that essentially picks winners from overseas (in other words those people that because of their occupations and points are, in the opinion of the Australian government likely to settle well in Australia) and also the strong growth in the Australian economy with unemployment rate at just 5%.
If your occupation isn’t amongst those named in this blog don’t despair, the lists of occupations available for general skilled migration visas are extensive. There are 212 occupations now available for the independent visa and 292 additional occupations available for state-sponsored visas.
To view the full list, you can click on the following links:
Posted by Iain on Jan. 18, 2019, 2:13 p.m. in Australia
D.A.M.A. - the hottest four letters in Australian immigration circles this month. It stands for Designated Area Migration Agreements but it should stand for Dishonest Attempt at Marketing Australia.
With some justification my industry occasionally gets it in the neck from politicians and bureaucrats for misleading marketing, promises made that cannot be delivered and generally shonky behaviour. We have built IMMagine around the simple premise of under promising and over delivering. It works - I’d suggest the State Governments of Australia and the New Zealand Government take a leaf out of the same book.
Now that competition is heating up among the Australian State Governments for an ever diminishing number of skilled migrants (as national politics sees effective cuts to permanent resident visa numbers and restrictions on work visa numbers), we are starting to see big budget marketing campaigns designed to attract migrants. I have no issue with marketing, I take issue with dishonest and misleading marketing.
We have been utterly deluged since the Government of the Northern Territory announced their “We will pay you $15,000 to move to our northern paradise’ (aka the arse end of nowhere).
Potential migrants are emailing us in their scores, especially the desperate of South Africa, asking how they too can move to move to the Northern Territory as it all sounds so easy. ’Someone, somewhere wants us!’. ‘And they will pay!’ ‘Where do we sign up?'
You know the old saying, ‘If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is’? This is a classic case. Just as the ‘white farmers from South Africa’ found out last year when they were all aflutter that the Aussies wanted to help (only) white farmers. Where is that programme to grant refugee status to them now?
While this DAMA programme does present new opportunities for a small number of people with certain skill sets in a limited number of occupations, this is not a permanent residence visa and no individual can directly apply for a work visa under the scheme without a job first.
The DAMA is accessed under the Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) Visa stream which allows employers in the territory to sponsor overseas workers under this special labour agreement. It simply allows businesses to employ people in skilled and semiskilled occupations that would normally not be available under the TSS.
This then is not a new visa, it presents almost no change to the status quo but is being marketed as some free ticket for anyone with a sweet tooth that wants a tour of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.
It isn’t. It is marketing, and misleading marketing at that.
The bottom line is that to be eligible for this visa you must first have an offer of employment in the territory. Good luck with that — in the entire state there is only 250,000 people spread over an area the size of western Europe. They want people for a reason — nothing much happens there and there’s an abundance of wild things which will eat, sting, poison or otherwise kill you. You travel a day over dusty roads to have a cup of coffee with your neighbour. Nice place for a holiday as they say……
If, however, you are lucky enough to be offered a position, the employer will then need to get permission to offer you the job from the Territory Government (bureaucrats, rules, forms, inconsistent decision making, delays). Once (and if) that is approved, you can then proceed to apply for the appropriate temporary Visa and sponsorship (bureaucrats, rules, forms, inconsistent decision making, delays…).
It is not simply a case then of applying to the Northern Territory because your occupation is on their current (short) list. There are quite a few steps that need to be undertaken, not least of all the challenge of finding an employer who is willing to sponsor without the potential worker being in Australia, and not having the appropriate work Visa.
As I have blogged about before getting a job will almost certainly require you to be in Australia, in the State, and actively pursuing jobs and tackling our old chicken and egg ‘no visa no job, but no job no visa’ friend — the employers overwhelmingly won’t be interested in talking to you if you don’t already have PR or work rights.
It is also important to appreciate that this visa is not a permanent residence Visa but rather a temporary work visa to help businesses fill a temporary shortage.
A pathway to permanent residence may also be available, however it will still be dependent on meeting the requirements for PR under some other residence policy. So if you were to pursue this you need to understand that if you get a job, if the employer is allowed to employ you and if you get a work visa you’ll be in Australia for perhaps three years and if you do not qualify under some other residence pathway at that time you will be leaving.
You need to be satisfied that the work visa and that particular occupation presents a pathway to a Permanent residence visa as well and given the Aussies change the rules as often as they change Prime Ministers, I am not sure I’d want to sit in some stinking hot outback town of 250 sweaty malcontents, hoping the Federal Government will let me stay on in three years time.
If you were to take on such risk surely you’d head for one of the States that has people and much more economic activity in it and increase your chances of success, wouldn’t you?
Still, those businesses that do exist in this part of Australia need to be able to operate and some are finding shortages in some occupations so for a tiny minority of people looking for a (radically) different lifestyle, this might work. For the vast majority it is just another cynical marketing exercise with little appreciation that migrants are people, taking risks, and this sorry programme will lead to nothing more than bitterness and disappointment for all parties (including the few people that live in NT who presumably are funding this exercise).
Although we don’t (yet) have regional or state visa pathways for visas in NZ, it is shocking that millions of dollars a year is spent by the New Zealand Immigration Department on marketing this country as a destination. I am constantly emailed ‘complaints’ from migrants who fell for the sweet talk and marketing about skills shortages and needs for this skill and need for that skill who found for reasons I could have told them before they left home, was never going to lead anywhere. Skills shortages and the types of migrants employers will consider are not always closely related. Pitching to millionaires assumes they cannot find us online.
Having Governments marketing to migrants but also acting as visa gatekeepers has always been a clear conflict of interest. One part of the Department says, ‘Come on in the water’s fine’ while the rest are a bunch of hungry circling sharks.
If the Northern Territory is such a fun, vibrant and economically prosperous place, migrants who know how to Google would already have found it.
It’s long since time the Immigration Departments of both NZ and Australia were honest and upfront with people and acting like us - telling potential migrants what they need to know and not what they want to hear.
If something sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is.
Until next week
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