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Australian Immigration Changes: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

There seems to be a five-year cycle for governments to implement and then change immigration policy. Given the fact that it had been 5 years since the general skilled migration visa policy had been implemented in Australia [with the split long-term and short-term skills shortages list] and the advent of ...

Myer

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Australian Immigration Changes: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

There seems to be a five-year cycle for governments to implement and then change immigration policy. Given the fact that it had been 5 years since the general skilled migration visa policy had been implemented in Australia [with the split long-term and short-term skills shortages list] and the advent of ...

Myer

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Australian Immigration Changes: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

Posted by Myer on Aug. 3, 2017, 4:29 p.m. in Immigration

There seems to be a five-year cycle for governments to implement and then change immigration policy.

Given the fact that it had been 5 years since the general skilled migration visa policy had been implemented in Australia [with the split long-term and short-term skills shortages list] and the advent of Brexit and Trump, the time was probably ripe for wholesale change.

And change there was – on 17 April, the Australian Government implemented widescale reform to its immigration policy with further clarifications on 1 July. As a result, there’s been much confusion and speculation amongst the public [and also within our industry as well it has to be said] about the changes whether they be good, bad or simply ugly.

The Changes

The primary changes that affect most of our clients situated overseas were:

  1. Applicants 45 and above are no longer able to obtain permanent residence under employer sponsored pathway or general skilled migration visas [points tested]. The previous age limit was 50 years of age.
  2. Reduction of the number of occupations available for state sponsorship for work visas and general skilled migration visas by 216 occupations.
  3. Renaming of the consolidated skilled occupations list to the short term skills shortages list and the skilled occupations list to the medium and long-term skills shortages list with the implications that only those in occupations on the long term skills shortages list can be sponsored for permanent residence by employers. Those on the short term skills shortages list can only receive a 2 your work visa renewable for another 2.

The Good

Yes, it might surprise some of you that some good did come of these changes. State Governments seem to have realised that they are not going to be able to access certain skills on a permanent basis through employer-sponsored schemes and they’ve had to embrace sponsoring a more diverse range of occupations.

Already we have seen longer state sponsorship lists notably in Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, Northern Territory and Tasmania sponsoring more occupations and also a more diverse range of occupations. In fact there have been some occupations that I don’t recall ever seeing on state sponsorship lists that have appeared. This is definitely good news for those of you who often felt that your occupations had been overlooked by State Governments.

There has also been greater recognition of the role of families being able to offer support and acting as an incentive to remain in a state with Tasmania joining ACT and South Australia in sponsoring more “offlist” occupations. These are occupations that did not appear on the main state sponsorship lists but are accessible if one has a close family member living in one of these states.

The Bad

The big losers amongst all of these changes are those aged 45 and above in general skilled migration visas and employer sponsored visas.

When I started processing Australian visas in 2008 the age limit was in fact 45 but was increased to 50 approximately 2012. The reduction of age limit from 50 to 45 come to some surprise as we are living in an environment of people “ageing better” and we are being encouraged to work until 70 and not retire at 65.

No doubt this change will make it harder to acquire international talent and skills by Australian companies. It could also raise the cost to acquire the skills in Australia. No reason has been provided for the increase in age limit but clearly the government is concerned about the cost of healthcare provided to migrants and 45 probably equates to the cutoff age when the social welfare costs that government will spend on a migrant outweigh their expected productivity.

Interestingly the age limits for the business skills, investors and family stream remain unaffected, so if you are above 45, you still may be able to qualify for another visa stream. 

The Ugly

The main motivation for these changes was political gain. Nothing was broken in terms of immigration policy and the pretext of protecting jobs for Australians is a flimsy one. In fact as Australia's unemployment rate has tumbled to 5.5 per cent as another 42,200 jobs were created in May it prompts us to ask the question where are the jobless Australians who are in need of protection?

An unemployment rate of 5.5% is almost taken to represent full employment in Australia.

It is the eighth consecutive month full time employment has risen, with 124,000 full time jobs created since September 2016.

The Turnbull government jumped on the Trump/Brexit bandwagon, usurped the position of the political right and seized the opportunity to increase its popularity on the back of right-wing populism that seems to have taken hold in western countries.

Like most changes that occurred to immigration policy it’s not all good bad or ugly, and there are bound to be some winners and losers whenever immigration policy changes.

We are however entering a period of increased change to immigration policy [the short term skills shortages list is going to be changed twice a year with occupations added and removed]. If one adds the annual changes in occupational ceilings or quotas for occupations on the long term list and changing state sponsorship lists as occupational quotas are added and removed we are entering a paradigm of much more change much more often and it has never been more important to be able to objectively assess your chances of securing a visa whether it be employer-sponsored or general skilled.

It’s going to be important to realise that whilst there are immigration opportunities they might not be your first choice and you may have to compromise on type of visa and destination in Australia. There is a time to raise and a time to fold but equally one has to be prepared to accept what’s on offer. 

And if all options for Australia are no longer available, you can also consider the possibility of migrating to New Zealand; the age limit is higher and the occupation list broader. 

- Myer Lipschitz, Director, IMMagine Melbourne Office

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6 comments on this post
Aug. 3, 2017, 10:08 p.m. by Immigration To Canada

Canada is one the most desired countries for immigration and it is a wonderful place for anyone who wants to start fresh. Canadian people are wonderful and the culture of Canada is also multicultural where anyone can adjust easily and adapt to the new change. Immigration to Canada is all an all a new and wonderful experience.

Replies to this comment

Aug. 12, 2017, 4:19 a.m. by Paul
Too bad they're taking in too many people from the wrong places. If the current government gets in again, it will take decades to reverse the damage. In typical leftist, socialist policies of self-destruction!
Reply to this comment
Aug. 3, 2017, 10:16 p.m. by Canadian Immigration

Canada is one the most desired countries for immigration and it is a wonderful place for anyone who wants to start fresh. Canadian people are wonderful and the culture of Canada is also multicultural where anyone can adjust easily and adapt to the new change. Immigration to Canada is all an all a new and wonderful experience.

Replies to this comment

Aug. 11, 2017, 6:53 p.m. by elizabeth Poorun
Immigration to Canada seems to be more inaccessible and the finding of a job proves to be more difficult. the country is truly beautiful!
Reply to this comment
Aug. 4, 2017, 1:15 a.m. by Junior M Phiri

Where does this leave the couples who intend to join their husbands who are Australian Citizens.

What about the children who intend to go and study in Australia?

Does that means that the visa price has change to with the consultation fees?

These changes really the mind of many people about the immigrating to Australia and it is like they no longer want Africans in particular to live there.

Replies to this comment

Aug. 22, 2017, 11:31 a.m. by Myer Lipschitz
Hi The changes that I referred to in my recent blog don't affect family migration programs and nor do they affect students. The visas most impacted would be 457 visas [work visas], general skilled migration visas [points tested visas that don't require offers of employment] and employer nominated residence visa applications. Some government visa application fees have increased but these increases tend to be in line with the cpi and are modest. I'm not sure why you have drawn the conclusion that Australia doesn't want Africans to migrate here – Australia has a policy of accepting anyone provided they meet immigration policy irrespective of country of origin. As with most changes to immigration policy there are bound to be some winners and some loses and that is the point of the blog.
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Aug. 6, 2017, 2:33 a.m. by Mominul Haque

Hi, i am Haque Mominul. Last four years i worked an a marine electrician from 17/5/2012 to 11/4/2016 at keppel fels ltd, 50 gul road, singapore. At present i working an a marine electrician at penguin international limited, 18 tuas basin link, singapore.

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Aug. 18, 2017, 10:34 p.m. by Maxwell Akujor

How can I get New Zealand visa or Australian visa with waiting for the work scheme

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Aug. 31, 2017, 1:30 p.m. by Tony

Thanks Myer for the post.

may i ask whether any changes to the resident return visa (S 155) requirement on close family ties? my wife (and her whole family) and my children are living+studying in australia but because of difficulty in getting a suitable job, i am still stuck working in singapore. Will the current changes eliminate PR visa holder like myself who wish to return to australia but the Australia job market is just not welcoming me?

i have been trying so hard to apply for MANY jobs, but so far without success. I'm not sure if its discrimination or just not enough 'australian' working experience. I have global working experience (senior management level) having worked in Tokyo, HK, Sydney, UK and now singapore, with more than 2 decades of banking experience. One would have thought these are valuable skills, but Australia job market does not seem to welcome senior international talents like me, which is ironic. some of my friends even suggesting me quit everything in singapore and start becoming a janitor or coffee machine cleaner, at my age now, seriously? with school going children, and start living at poverty line? is this the objective of immigration? i'm confused.

thanks very much.

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