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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
Posted by Myer on July 20, 2018, 8:16 p.m. in Australia
And the place where you belong, contrary to what the song would indicate, is not West Virginia, but Geelong, Adelaide, Hobart or any other part of Australia that is “regional”.
Recent changes to Australia’s skilled migration program is going to have the effect of placing more of you on country roads than ever before.
Figures just released evidence that Australia accepted approximately 162,000 permanent migrants in 2017/18, down from about 183,000 the year before, and well below the 190,000-a-year quota. Net migration was 240,000 but this includes those who are not only arriving as permanent residents but those on visas allowing a stay of 12 months or more, which is a fair number of people to accommodate in terms of accommodation, transportation, healthcare facilities and education facilities.
We also learned this week that Australia’s population is set to reach 25 million in August 2018 some 24 years earlier than predicted in 2002.
Australia’s larger cities such as Sydney and Melbourne are suffering from congestion, infrastructure that cannot support a growing population, rising property prices (although having said that, at time of writing property prices in Melbourne and Sydney are forecast to decrease by 1 – 2%) and in the context of these issues migration to the larger cities is said to be adding to the burden.
Yet on the other hand, Australia has a shortage of skilled people in regional areas. Regional areas would constitute some of the smaller cities in Australia such as Adelaide and Hobart as well as anywhere outside of the metropolitan areas of Melbourne, Sydney, Gold Coast, Brisbane, Perth to name a few.
Since late 2016, job vacancy growth in regional areas has outstripped vacancy growth in our largest cities. According to the latest Internet Vacancy Index released by the Australian Government, vacancies in regions have grown by 20 per cent since February 2016 compared to only a 10 per cent increase in our largest cities.
These growing vacancies are occurring across a range of job opportunities.
This is the context in which some of Australia’s recent policy changes have taken place aimed at reducing the number of migrants destined for Australia’s major cities and encouraging migration to smaller cities and towns. These changes include:
As most of these changes have occurred in the months April– July 2018 they are to soon to have caused the reduction in permanent migrants in 2017/18, from 183,000 to 162,000 and their effects both in terms of the annual quota of permanent migrants as well as the effects on diverging migrant flows from metropolitan to regional areas is yet to be felt.
In fact it may take some time before the true effects of these changes are felt because of transitional provisions available to those on work visas in Australia at the time these changes came into effect. Those on temporary 457 visas still have a greater number of occupations to transition to permanent residence and it could be as much as 4 years before the full effect of the changes take place.
It’s therefore ironic that we are having a debate about migration numbers in the context of some of the harshest changes to immigration policy that I have seen in the last nine years.
It is, however, overdue that we should have an informed debate about population size and whether the vision for Australia is a “big” Australia, or “sustainable” one as some of the terms that politicians have been bandying about and to then design in immigration policy designed to meet that target. Instead of what we have been doing the past is to come up with an arbitrary annual quota because in the absence of a formal population policy, Australia’s immigration policy is its de facto population policy.
For the foreseeable future I expect that there will be more Van der Merwes, Singhs and Lees found enjoying the country lifestyle of Australia.
- Myer Lipschitz, Managing Partner (Melbourne Office)
Posted by Myer on June 30, 2018, 10:08 p.m. in Australia
From 1 July 2018, applicants wishing to apply for the following visa subclasses will be required to obtain a pass mark of 65 to be eligible to receive an invitation to apply:
This represents an increase of 5 points over the current pass mark of 60 points and applies to all general skilled migration visa applicants who have not received an invitation to apply for residence by 1 July.
The current pass mark of 60 points applies to applicants who have received an invitation to apply for residence and manage to file their general skilled visa applications before the invitation to apply for residence expires i.e. within 60 days of issue of the invitation to apply for residence.
The new pass mark has been ostensibly increased because of the high level of interest in skilled migration to Australia and the high calibre of applicants.
IMMagine clients will be individually notified if affected by the increase.
Posted by Iain on June 29, 2018, 1:49 p.m. in Australia
My piece last week was about attempting to unravel the truth behind the immigration numbers in both Australia and New Zealand. Neither country was filling its own stated numbers of resident/residence visas which suggests their respective immigration departments do not know what they are doing, demand to migrate has fallen or the numbers of available approvals had been deliberately but unofficially cut.
Yesterday, the Australian government announced it was, from 1 July, pushing up the minimum points to be selected and invited to apply for a Permanent Residence Visa or the Subclass 489 'work to residence' visa from 60 to 65 points.
In some ways I feel like adding to last week's blog, I rest my case.
The Australian Government justified this increase by quoting 'demand' and this is where I get so frustrated. There is no evidence of increasing demand to live in Australia and if there was the country would not have fallen short of its annual quota/target/ceiling of 192,000 in the current immigration year. The Government imposed artificially high pass marks around eight months ago specifically to rein in numbers and to ensure (unless they are inept) their own targets were not met. They did a good job of that.
At the same time they pushed, by design or as an unintended consequence, more skilled migrants to seek the support of one of the eight states and territories which results in a, fixed, not floating, pass mark. In some ways it seems the federal government was perhaps letting the states decide to a greater extent than previously who gets in and who doesn't through their own occupation demand lists.
I think the truth is the Australian Government is trying to be all things to all voters given they are back in an election cycle where immigration will once again be front and centre. Those that are against migration at recent levels will take solace from the numbers of permanent visas being issued falling, while those who see migration as both necessary and desirable will rest easy thinking skilled migrants so needed to fill labour market gaps are still welcome.
How else do you explain a need to increase the points required for entry when at lower pass marks, quotas weren't being filled?
While a 5 point increase doesn't sound like a lot it is going to advantage those with superior English language skills and the more highly qualified. It is going to make identifying the most appropriate occupation for your planned move even more important than ever.
A few people called me out over last week's piece as being overly negative and possibly turning people off emigrating. Some thought that telling the truth is not good marketing, but I see it differently.
For starters, I like to think that when people are making the biggest decision of their lives, assessing their real chances of ascending the visa mountain that migration is and getting a handle on how welcome they might be when they get there, is part of our responsibility as 'honest brokers'.
Further, I despair with the dishonesty of Governments and they deserve to be called out when they lie for political gain.
Rather than put anyone off engaging in the process, I hope that more people will appreciate the value we bring to the process and that in executing a strategy where every point counts, our expertise and support will be appreciated and valued.
Neither New Zealand nor Australia is closing their doors, not by any stretch of the imagination, but it is clear that anti migrant rhetoric is, and for that matter always has, gained votes. I've never seen a politician campaign on the benefits of increasing migration even when the local labour market cannot fill the vacancies strong economic growth demands.
So, the announcement yesterday out of Australia should be seen for what it is, a, political reaction to a country where, perhaps more than most western democracies, more votes can be gained through appearing to 'get tough' on immigration than through defending the benefits of a balanced and controlled policy.
Now, arguably more than ever, if you want to emigrate to one of these countries, you need an Advisor who can cut through the political rhetoric, formulate a strategy and ensure you get what you want.
Tell me what you think.
Posted by Iain on March 23, 2018, 9:37 p.m. in South Africa
Last week’s blog post on why the Australian Minister of Home Affairs (Immigration) is, in my view, either a racist and a hypocrite or simply a cynical Australian politician playing to a small racist constituency in Australia, hit a nerve in South Africa as I expected it would. The reaction to last week’s blog across various forms of social media and in private emails to me deserves some further exploration.
The reaction to it confirmed two things for me - what politicians anywhere will do for a few votes and how, sadly, South Africans are for the most part these days, seemingly incapable of any form of grown up discourse.
On the Minister, I cannot believe he was not being very calculated and while I’d like to believe he had the best interests of South African farmers in mind, the way he has gone about handling the issue suggests his kite flying exercise was more for domestic consumption; appealing to an anti-immigrant (unless those migrants are white) constituency rather than any real interest in reaching out to a group in possible need of ‘rescue’ in South Africa.
There are clearly enough people in Australia who believe their pre-1958 ‘whites only’ immigration policy represented some sort of demographic ‘dream time’ that a cynical Australian politician will seek to exploit that minority world view. It is a shame that a country where 20% of its people were not born there and who, for the most part, all get on like a house on fire living harmoniously, has room for a Minister of Immigration who will try and exploit a minority view for political gain. If he was genuinely concerned with the plight of white farmers in South Africa (or, simply more intelligent) he would have quietly floated the idea to his colleagues, gauged their reaction and if they were in agreement that white South African farmers deserved special treatment, they could have quietly gone about creating a visa pathway for them without the political grandstanding. You have to ask yourself why Dutton handled the issue the way he did.
Recently New Zealand did something similar in creating a special pathway to residence for several thousand largely unskilled farm workers at a time the same Government was tightening up on migration in general because of concerns we were dropping the ‘quality’ of our skilled migrants. Sensibly, and with profound (or cynical, depending on your perspective) political judgement, it was done quietly and what could and arguably should have caused a political backlash, passed virtually unnoticed by the public. As a result, 4000 people who would not otherwise not have had any pathway to residence because they are effectively farm labourers but who were making an economic and social contribution to the rural economy, now have a path to achieve it.
Mr Dutton, it seems to me, must have known his musings on maybe, possibly ‘looking at’ creating a pathway for white farmers was not going to fly and it is impossible for me to conclude that he has done anything other than cynically exploited the situation white farmers find themselves in across South Africa. He didn’t fly his kite for them, he flew it for political gain at home.
Those of you who think, so what, if it helps thousands of farmers to get somewhere ’safe’ and to a ‘civilised country,' you might want to reflect for a moment on what the chances of it happening really are.
It is very interesting that in the past few days the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, one of the Government’s most senior Cabinet Ministers, several senior politicians along with the Prime Minister himself have all poured cold water on Mr Dutton’s suggestion. It would suggest that his kite-flying exercise was pretty much simply politicking, not for the ultimate benefit of any white South African farmer, but for local consumption. That is what made me so angry and disgusted - if he was truly serious, he’d have gone about it very differently and in a way that might have been politically acceptable and worked.
The second tragedy the piece illustrated is that South Africans have sadly got to the point where they cannot have a grown up discussion about anything without it descending into ugly vitriol and accusing one another of every opinion being based on a racist worldview. Anyone who ever believed in a ‘rainbow nation’ must surely, by now, realise if it wasn’t always an illusion, it is a crawling baby struggling to learn to walk. I got to the point a while ago in South African hotels of dreading the question about what colour toast I wanted for breakfast, in case my preference for ‘white over brown’ might be construed as the outward manifestation of my inner racist, rather than a simple taste preference. (‘Why don’t white people want to eat brown bread I ask you!?’ I can hear Malema screeching into his bullhorn, ‘It’s because if it is brown, it is inferior to white!’ I imagine he’d then start dancing and singing about ‘one farmer, one piece of brown toast’).
That last week’s blog resulted in a very predictable firestorm of ignorance, abuse and hate on social media was sad. All I was saying was if white farmers deserve a break because their lives are threatened what about all the other people around the world being threatened for no reason other than their skin colour, religion, political beliefs as well? Why aren’t they being treated with the same ‘compassion’ as Dutton claims to be showing white farmers? There are thousands of people being held in appalling conditions in Australian detention centres who one might reasonably argue should be ahead of South African farmers in the ‘help us’ queue.
No matter what the discussion point, if you don’t agree with my opinion, I must be a racist. If I don’t agree with yours, it is you who must be a racist. So it seems to be in South Africa. Even 24 years after the dismantling of apartheid, old world views in South Africa still run very deep. There are plenty of politicians, Julius Malema being the prime example in South Africa, willing to exploit those for maximum political gain. To also have a senior foreign politician in a country like Australia which has a very recent - some would suggest ongoing - sorry history of racist immigration policies, is to offer little other than pouring fuel on the South African flames. I am not sure who that actually helps in South Africa.
Is a target of 30% black ownership of land in South Africa such a bad thing if done properly, sensibly and fairly? Before I set anyone else off, I agree - if it is done properly - and over the past 24 years it is hard to find a lot of evidence this is an economy where the political leadership has done much ‘properly'. And therein lies the real problem - only when local politicians stop turning the economic argument into a racial one can there be any chance of success or peace in this land.
Maybe I didn’t explain it very well, but so many people either could not see beyond their own biases having read the piece last week and launched into racist attacks (seemed to be equally split between black on white and white on black) yet most, in their haste to rather froth at the mouth seemed to completely miss my point.
I feel as desperate for the farmers of South Africa as I do for any victim of the senseless violence that pervades this country.
Mr Dutton has raised the expectations of literally millions of white people who now want to believe, because they are white, that Australia is some sort of knight in shining armour that will ride to their rescue.
I am pretty certain that it will not happen - not for the South African farmers let alone any other white, ‘christian, cricket and rugby playing people’ that he has said ‘assimilate’ so well into Australia. If those things count then add ‘points’ for being a fully paid up member of your local South African cricket club to the ‘points’ criteria for skilled migration. If being Christian makes you a good Aussie, then give all those that go to a Christian Church 20 bonus points. Australia operates a test for English language so why not a tractor driving test, if what they want is farmers?
Mr Dutton’s biggest mistake (or achieving exactly what he wanted) of course, was to go public with his musings rather than quietly make the suggestion, perhaps at a closed Cabinet meeting, for further discussion.
Ironically, he has now put the Australian Government in a position where in my view, they cannot help the South African farmers and for me, that is the greatest tragedy of all - a cynical politician of the worst kind or just a very stupid one.
Across Australia the clear majority of people have great sympathy for anyone who is targeted, officially or unofficially, because of the colour of their skin. Given how divisive the ‘benefit’ of economic migrants and refugee seekers is in Australia it is simply not going to open a residence door just because a person is ‘white’.
It is 2018 after all in most of Australia, even if where Mr Dutton comes from it is still 1918.
Until next week (when we will talk about something else)...
Iain MacLeod, Southern Man
Posted by Myer on Feb. 26, 2017, 4:30 p.m. in Australia lifestyle
I had a recent consultation with someone in Singapore who wanted to immigrate to Australia for the purposes of educating his children at University but didn’t necessarily want to immigrate during the initial five-year period that an independent visa would allow (the children were quite young).
It’s not always not up to you to choose the time when you can apply for permanent residence because of the amount of change that occurs in the immigration process. It’s more likely that the time chooses you.
I’m never able to “time-the-market” when I buy a house or buy or sell equities but I can tell you that the perfect time to apply for permanent residence is the time at which you meet the eligibility requirements and if that time is now then as inconvenient is the time may be, you need to act. Often the only difference between eligibility and and missing the opportunity completely is timing.
Most applicants aren’t aware of the amount of change that occurs in the course of a relatively short period of time. Not only do applicants get older (and one’s chances of securing a visa never improves with age) but there is also a significant amount of change occurring within immigration policy.
Perhaps one of the most significant changes - certainly in terms of general skilled migration visas - is the publication of the Skilled Occupations List which occurs on 1 July of each year. This list determines which occupations will be eligible for obtaining independent permanent residence without requiring state sponsorship and represent those skills that are in medium to long-term demand in Australia.
Certain occupations have been “flagged” for possible removal in the future. Generally, occupations are flagged when there is emerging evidence of excess supply in the labour market.
The list of flagged occupations for the list to be published on one July 2017 is as follows:
Not only does the Skilled Occupations List change, but so do the quotas of each particular occupation sought by the Australian Government under its skilled migration visas.
These quotas are also announced on 1 July and determine the pass marks of independent visas. Several years ago it was possible to obtain permanent residence for an Accountant scoring 60 points with no previous work experience as an accountant, however a cut in the quota of accountants have meant that these days accountants need to score 70 points.
Some applicants might need State sponsorship if their occupation appears on the Consolidated Skilled Occupations List and whilst these state sponsorship lists are reflective of the skills needed by the 8 states or Territory’s in Australia, they too change depending upon the quota of a particular occupation required in a State or Territory.
Australia is, however, quite generous as to when applicants have to commence residing in Australia.
After the visa is granted, as long as you visit within 12 months specified by the Department, you have 5 years in which to immigrate. If you cannot immigrate within the first 5 years, as long as you visit Australia once every 5 year period you can always apply for a Resident Return Visa.
So whilst one has less choice about when to apply for permanent residence one has a greater degree of choice about the date that you ultimately choose to settle in Australia.
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