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Immigration Blog


Posts with tag: Australia visa quota

Immigration Blog

Migrating is more than just filling in forms and submitting paperwork; its a complex process that will test even the most resilient of people. Understanding Australia & New Zealand at a grass-roots level is paramount to your immigration survival, and to give you a realistic view of both countries, its people and how we see the world, as well as updates about any current or imminent policy changes, subscribe to our regular blog posts by entering your details below.

Honesty in an election year?

Posted by Myer on April 8, 2022, 1:37 p.m. in Australian immigration

The budget announcement regarding migration last week was a welcome boost to the skilled migration program but I doubt it’s going to be sufficient to satisfy Australia’s skill shortages. What were you expecting, honesty in an election year?

In previous blogs we speculated that the total migration program would remain at 160,000 resident visas per annum with the pre-pandemic ratio of two thirds of the program being devoted to skilled migration versus one third to family migration, and this has largely been the case.

It was too much to hope that in an election year the annual migration level would be increased from 160,000 resident visas per annum but there is wide speculation that it will increase to 190,000 in the following year.

The annual quota is significant because it influences how many visas in a particular subcategory can be processed by the Department. For example if a quota of business visas has been reached for a particular immigration year then no other visas would be approved in that class of business visa.

We tend to find that those clients of ours who are in Australia and working for employers on temporary work visas are very dependent upon the annual quota of employer sponsored residence visas as a pathway to securing permanent residence.

Many of our clients overseas don’t have offers of employment in Australia and are dependent upon general skilled migration visas as a means of securing residence. These visas don’t require offers of employment but in recent years have relied upon state governments to nominate applicants and the greater quota of places available means more occupations will appear on state nomination lists when they are produced around 1 July of this year.

Although the increase in skilled migration is welcomed, it's not going to be sufficient to satisfy Australia's insatiable appetite for skilled workers and although the government realises this, it's in a difficult place.

Inflation (largely thanks to increased petrol prices) is currently outstripping wage growth. Whilst worker’s wages rose at the fastest annual pace in more than three years the increase lagged behind the consumer price index. This point has been hammered home to the voting public by the opposition Labor party over the last few months and the date of the election hasn’t even been announced!

The government is trying to relieve cost of living pressures by reducing the petrol tax (fuel excise) by half, from 44.2 cents per litre to 22.1 cents per litre for the next six months and hoping that this will have a follow-on effect by relieving inflationary pressure so that Australians can once again afford to buy broccoli. Whilst children hoping to avoid eating vegetables might be disappointed the government is hoping to win over vegetable eating parents with this tactic.

The government therefore cannot be seen to be openly encouraging migration at this point in time in the election cycle although it knows Australia needs it.

The government’s answer seems to be threefold:

1.       Reallocation of places under the annual migration quota along the line set out in the preceding paragraphs.

2.       Increased incentives for employers to hire apprentices.

3.       Increased working holiday visa schemes.

As far as the billions of dollars it intends to spend on apprenticeships, the government naïvely presupposes that there will be sufficient number of young Australian wanting to enter apprenticeships and even then it’s going to take four years for an apprentice to be a qualified tradesperson – far too long for employers to wait.

As far as working holiday visa schemes are concerned recent announcements have meant that there are now a greater number of countries where young people can qualify for working holiday visas that allow them to come to Australia primarily for the purposes of holidaying but to work as well.

There have been increased age limits under some of these schemes whereby people up to the age of 35 can still apply and new multilateral agreements (most notably with the United Kingdom) will result in many younger people coming to Australia on working holiday visas.

Whilst these people might be satisfying immediate skill shortages in the hospitality industry and in agriculture the nature of the conditions imposed on most of them (you can only work for a particular employer for six months) they are hardly the type of workers to satisfy the severe skill shortages in professional and technical roles.

The increase in skilled migration quota is going to feel like a major migration wave after the extremely small number of migrants granted visas over the last 2.5 years but if the government were to be truly honest about the needs of the Australian economy as opposed to pandering to a voting electorate, it should have been so much bigger. Hopefully next year once the general election is over the government will be more honest in providing the skills it knows the Australian economy needs.

Back to the Past

Posted by Myer on July 2, 2021, 11:15 a.m. in Australia

When I heard our Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg delivering the Intergenerational Report last night on TV I could have sworn he was telling our Prime Minister, Scott Morrison “Great, Scott. Let’s get back to the DeLorean and go back to the past to avoid the Covid break in the space-time continuum”. Of course I live in Melbourne and have been subjected to 144 days of lockdown and have only reemerged from the fourth lockdown and could quite possibly be delirious.

The intergenerational report is produced every five years and is a prediction as to what the country and economy will look like in four years’ time.

Clearly the fact that we have had closed borders for the last 18 months and a decline in net migration of 71% for the last year will have an impact upon the demographics of Australia’s population as well as the economy for many years to come.

The last report produced in 2015 predicted a population of 40 million in 2054 but now projected to be just 38.8M by 2060/61.

As a consequence the economy will be smaller and the population will be older because Australians are living longer.

Fertility rates are predicted to continue to be low (as is the case in most Western countries) meaning that overseas migration would continue to be the main source of population increase.

There will be a greater burden placed upon the shoulders of a smaller working population to fund retirement and healthcare costs of an ever-increasing ageing population.

They would also have to bear the burden of paying for the economic stimulus package that the government splurged on economic relief projected to be 342 billion over the next four years - after all someone has to pick up the tab at the end of the day.

Over the medium term it doesn’t look particularly rosy either with budget deficits predicted over the next 40 years and with net debt still at approximately 34% of GDP in 2061.

Australia has had a debate over the size of the migration intake for the last 14 years. The last Prime Minister in favour of a “big” Australia was Kevin Rudd but successive prime ministers have adopted a fairly restrictive immigration policy. Clearly there is no debate any longer, Australia needs migrants not only to satisfy skill shortages that Australia is now experiencing but also because a greater burden is going to be shouldered by a smaller percentage of the Australian population to provide retirement and healthcare for Australia’s ageing population.

This does however present an opportunity for the government to rewrite immigration policy without the usual arguments about the benefits of migration to Australia. Clearly every political party in Australia recognises that increased migration is required to address long-term demographic changes brought about by the Covid warp to the space-time continuum.

Most of the suggestions relating to the skilled migration program seem to shy away from lists of occupations to be considered to be in short demand for specific visa types. Some have suggested an alternative model of letting market forces decide as to whether skills are required by focusing on the highest-paid occupations and granting residence to these occupations. The only problem with this is that there are certain occupations that are needed but by virtue of the industry they are working in, not the most highly paid. I’m thinking of occupations such as carers, nurses and teachers.

I actually quite like Australia’s skilled migration program and all it needs is some “tweaks”. I like the fact that you have two distinct streams, one for people that qualify on a points system that don’t need offers of skilled employment and the other for migrants who do obtain offers of employment and rely upon the employer’s to nominate them for permanent residence.

There are some “risk-takers” that are prepared to quit jobs, hop on planes and come to Australia to obtain offers of employment and rely upon the employer to then nominate them for permanent residence but there is a more cautious type of migrant that is looking for certainty of outcome and wants to qualify for permanent residence (or at least a visa that leads to permanent residence) whilst abroad. Countries like New Zealand that adopt this approach miss out on a whole class of incredibly skilled migrant and Australia has a precious advantage in the marketplace for adopting this approach.

My suggested tweaks would be as follows:

 1. I agree that the current lists don’t accurately mirror current labour market shortages, they never have. Recruitment websites should instead be monitored for significant increases in job ads in the types of occupations advertised and lists compiled from this data. 

       2. International students should never have to compete with skilled migrants for places in the program because of competing interests. States want students because tertiary education needs student dollars. Skilled migrants are desired because of their skills.

       The post study work visas provide sufficient incentive to attract foreign students with pathways for them to proceed to employer sponsored residence visas.

       3. State governments should have the power to determine which skills are required for the purposes of state and there should be a larger independent program (they don’t require state sponsorship) for applicants who skills are in demand across Australia.

I’m skeptical whether Australia will seize the opportunity to adopt a change in immigration policy. I think it will probably be more of the same with an increased immigration program aimed at attracting more migrants to address the demographic imbalance caused by Australia’s closed border policy these last 18 months.

For the time being the DeLorean will have to remain in the garage, gathering dust neither capable of travelling backwards nor forwards in time.

The Good the Bad and the Ugly

Posted by Myer on May 28, 2021, 10:38 a.m. in State Sponsorship

We’re talking occupations for Australia, not the movie. The question we constantly get from people we consult with is “what are good occupations to immigrate to Australia?”. By that they usually mean ‘what occupations does the Australian government want for the purpose of securing residence?’

A ‘good occupation’ is critical to your chances of success under a number of different residence scenarios. Why? Because Australia has a plethora of occupational lists of which one or more may apply to you and which will directly impact your ability to either secure state sponsorship (for most people that is now critical if the end game is residence) or to create a pathway to residence through working for an ‘eligible’ employer.

Because most of IMMagine’s clients leave home with provisional or permanent residence and they do not require jobs to secure their residence visa, we will focus on general skilled (‘points’) migration visas.

To be clear, if we describe your occupation as good, bad or ugly it has no bearing on the ease with which you could secure employment in Australia. Occupation lists are something of an artificial construct which may or may not reflect demand for those skills in the labour market.

Our focus today (and when we consult) is on those occupations that have a history of appearing on state sponsorship lists in the recent past.  As Advisers we spend a lot of time looking in the rearview mirror – if a state has a history of sponsoring an occupation in the past year or two, this can be a strong indication they will continue to do so in the immediate future. Readers should bear in mind that at present very few states are sponsoring applicants based overseas (although in the past two weeks we have had two clients sponsored by a state government which is surprising as they are not living in Australia – we took that as a welcome signal that things are starting to ‘thaw’). We expect that a return to ‘normal’ will intensify over the next few months given the fact that the government recently announced that Australia’s borders will open to skilled migrants next year and Australia is experiencing worsening skills shortages.

One should also bear in mind that we can never know with 100% certainty which occupations will appear on state sponsorship lists in future because these details are never released in advance of the new ‘immigration year’ which begins on 1 July. We have had unexpected surprises, both positive and negative in the past. However, there are some occupations that always seem to appear on state sponsorship lists. We a few years ago we had a consultation with an Industrial Designer. We could not recall that occupation ever appearing on any state sponsorship occupation list but to his credit this client went ahead and obtained a skills assessment and lo and behold his occupation appeared on a state sponsorship list, and we’re happy to say he now calls Australia home.

As Randy Jackson of American Idol fame used to say: “you’ve gotta be in it to win it”. By that we mean you can’t wait until such time as your occupation appears on a state sponsorship list to make the decision or you’ve probably left it too late. That’s because each state sponsors a limited number of any particular occupation in any immigration year – they have strict quotas. If you wait until your occupation appears on a state sponsorship list to begin the entire process, chances are you’ll have missed the boat as the quota for that particular occupation is likely already have been filled. Cart before horse stuff. You’ll end up waiting another year to see what occupations appear on these lists in the next immigration year. That could delay your migration by 12 months.

There are 504 occupations that are suitable for general skilled migration ‘points’ based visas and we can’t hope to mention all of them here. We’ve only singled out certain standout occupations.

If the state governments are aware of the federal government’s initiative (and it’s a big ‘if’) one would assume that the 19 occupations on the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL) should appear on state sponsorship lists.

The list is based on expert advice from the National Skills Commission and in consultation with Commonwealth departments:

  • Chief Executive or Managing Director
  • Construction Project Manager
  • Mechanical Engineer
  • Veterinarian
  • General Practitioner
  • Resident Medical Officer
  • Psychiatrist
  • Medical Practitioner nec
  • Midwife
  • Registered Nurse (Aged Care)
  • Registered Nurse (Critical Care and Emergency)
  • Registered Nurse (Medical)
  • Registered Nurse (Mental Health)
  • Registered Nurse (Perioperative)
  • Registered Nurses nec
  • Developer Programmer
  • Software Engineer)
  • Social Worker
  • Maintenance Planner

We wouldn’t put too much faith in the state governments following the PMSOL and imagine that the state sponsorship lists will reflect the needs of their own economies just as they have in previous years.

The good occupations

Any trades or anyone in a technical role, construction managers, environmental consultant, internal auditor, actuary, economist, management consultant, architect, engineers, quantity surveyor, agricultural consultant, chemist, food technologist, life scientists, medical laboratory scientists, veterinarians, teachers, most healthcare related occupations (but sometimes registration issues may complicate matters), IT occupations (but numbers are usually quite low meaning it’s highly competitive but if Australia doesn’t want you, New Zealand almost certainly will), solicitors, psychologists, farmers, corporate services managers, specialist managers, senior managers, manufacturer, production managers, supply and distribution manager, quality assurance manager, laboratory manager, customer services manager, facilities manager, mathematician, statistician, social workers and anyone in a related occupation.

The bad occupations

Flower growers, music professionals, photographers, book or script editors, directors, film and video editor, program director, stage manager, technical director, video producer, print journalist, technical writer, television journalist, commodities trader, ICT trainer, gallery or museum curator, patents examiner, fashion designer, meat inspector.

The ugly


A great example of the swan becoming the ugly duckling. Around five years ago accountants used to account for 30 – 40% of all the skilled residence visas but successive cuts to the annual migration quota or occupational ceiling have seen the annual quota fall from 14,000 a year to just 1000 in the current immigration year under general skilled migration OR the work to residence pathway.

That’s not to say that there is no demand for accountants in Australia, ask any employer in an accounting practice and they will tell you that they cannot find experienced accountants in Australia. In fact, the Australian Tax Office recently granted extensions to companies to allow them to file their audited financial reports because of the severe shortage of auditors in Australia. Yes, I know that it’s technically a different occupation but related in the visa sense.

We have no doubt that accountants will make another comeback, just as hairdressers, cooks and chefs have done. These occupations too were ‘ugly’ occupations circa 2012 but have made a strong comeback.

Of course some accountants can be ‘packaged’ and presented, quite legally, by the better immigration advisers as finance managers which has been a reasonable occupation as far as state sponsorship is concerned, and New Zealand has always welcomed accountants in the past if it doesn’t work for Australia (New Zealand is also particularly short of auditors)

Some occupations with a bit of cosmetic surgery can become beautiful and just because you are working in a particular occupation doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to obtain a positive skills assessment in that particular occupation. The tasks against which an occupation is assessed can often overlap with other occupations opening up opportunities for ‘repackaging’. The accountant/finance manager is a good example. Or you might find someone had previously worked as a tradesperson/artisan who went on to be a production supervisor or workshop manager. The trade occupation would be a much ‘better’ occupation than production supervisor or workshop manager and that person might still be able to obtain a positive skills assessment in the trade occupation and state sponsorship, thereby enhancing their chances of obtaining residence.

As with all this stuff it is seldom black and white and expertise an be the difference between success and failure. Given you cannot get the process 98% right and get a residence visa (it is a test you only pass if you score 100%) understanding these issues is what leads to the solutions we offer.

If you’re interested as to whether your occupation is good, bad or ugly for Australia you can complete one of our free preliminary questionnaires on the following page of our website and within 24 business hours we will provide you with a preliminary assessment report to tell you whether it’s worth your while paying for a detailed and private 90 minute eligibility and strategy consultation.

Until next time

Myer Lipschitz and Iain MacLeod

Where has the year gone to?

Posted by Myer on Dec. 4, 2020, 11:05 a.m. in Australia

“It’s December already, where has the year gone to?” is a common comment at this time of year but this particular year we know where we spent much of our time – isolated in our homes. It’s a year demarcated by isolation and stagnation from an economic and social perspective and next year can only be better. This is also true in terms of immigration policy which left very little to cheer about in 2020 but the outlook for 2021 has to be brighter.

In terms of the year that’s been, things turned sour fairly early on with Australia calling Covid 19 a pandemic prior to the announcement by the World Trade Organisation and essentially closed its borders on 20 March 2020 with exemptions for only Australian citizens, permanent residence and their immediate family.

In May we would normally receive the Federal Government’s budget announcement including details relating to the annual migration quota however this decision was postponed until October. This delay is why state sponsorship lists, which are normally produced in July were postponed until such time as the government finalised the migration quota so that they could decide on the number of migrants each state could sponsor.

Many of our clients overseas applying for general skilled migration visas are dependent upon the production of state sponsorship lists but as I write this these state allocations have yet to be finalised. All indications are that it should happen soon and we expect state sponsorship list to be produced later this month.

Delays associated with state sponsorship lists have meant that many of our clients who had obtained English-language tests and positive skills assessment have had to essentially tread water for much of this year. Even those offshore applicants who had filed general skilled migration visa applications have had to wait as priority was given to those already in Australia. With 36,000 Australians stranded overseas the government hardly wanted to add to the number of permanent residents overseas wanting to gain access to Australia by approving offshore cases hence the focus on processing applications made while the candidate was in Australia.

I’m sure that 2021 will however be a brighter year in terms of migration to Australia. There are several Covid 19 vaccines in production and Australia has entered into five separate agreements for the supply of Covid 19 vaccines if they are proven to be safe and effective.

Our interstate borders have been relaxed and it is now possible to travel anywhere in Australia except Western Australia and that’s set to change next week. In terms of our national border Australia already has quarantine-free travel arrangements with New Zealand and is working towards establishing similar arrangements with other low-risk countries such as Japan, Singapore and South Korea.

Towards the middle of next year, we should see a gradual return of some of the 120,000 international students who remain stranded overseas and of course July of next year demarcates the beginning of another immigration year with the publication of more state sponsorship lists.

The number and variety of occupations appearing on state sponsorship lists usually mirror economic activity in a particular state and relevantly the federal government is providing $257 billion in direct economic support to cushion the blow and strengthen the recovery. The 2020 – 21 budget commits a further $98 billion including $25 billion in direct Covid 19 response measures and $74 billion in new measures to create jobs bringing the government’s overall support to $507 billion. Other stimulatory measures such as tax reform, quantitative easing, and record low interest rates will no doubt have the desired effect of stimulating the Australian economy and, as the economy grows, so too do skill shortages and the need to import skills from overseas.

Of course there is also the stimulatory measures of state governments to be added to Federal expenditure with Victoria alone spending $13 billion to combat the coronavirus crisis with more than $7.6 billion in direct economic support for business in Victoria.

It’s probably going to be several years before we see the high level of tourists, students and migrants returning to Australia and it is conceivable that those allowed to enter might have to have a health passport (no jab no entry) in addition to a national passport to gain entry to Australia but there is a general feeling of optimism in Australia that the worst is behind us.

Our message to those who feel that they have been treading water as far as migration to Australia is concerned is to hang in there. To those that have already filed applications that are as yet undecided we should see more decisions being made next year and to those who have completed English-language and skills assessments and are waiting on the state sponsorship lists, progress cannot be too far off with state sponsorship lists due to open up shortly as well as more updates in July of next year.

If 1992 was an “annus horribilis” according to Queen Elizabeth II, I wonder how she would describe 2020? Whilst I’m not going to predict 2021 to be annus mirabilis (wonderful year) it has to be an improvement on 2020 from a health, social, economic and migration perspective.

The Silly Season

Posted by Myer on June 26, 2020, 1:51 p.m. in Australia

The silly season is fast approaching in Australia and I’m not referring to Christmas or New Year. I am referring to 1 July which is the beginning of our immigration year and demarcates the beginning of the “silly season” in which state governments produce lists of occupations that they intend to sponsor for the immigration year that commences on 1 July 2020 and ends 30 June 2021. We are all then consumed with furious energy trying to secure state sponsorship for our clients with the limited number of places that are available her occupation.

We never know in advance which occupations are going to appear on state sponsorship lists or how many of a particular occupation the eight states or territories will sponsor but before you can apply for state sponsorship you need to have the results of your skills assessment and English-language test.

To borrow from the Christmas analogy, there are many of you that will be reading this without having done your “shopping” (skills assessment and English-language test) early and will be waiting for your occupations to appear on state sponsorship lists before you commence your shopping but for anyone with insight into how the state sponsorship program works you can’t afford to wait until such time as your occupation appears on a state sponsorship list before you “shop” for your English-language test results and skills assessment.

Perhaps I should end the shopping analogy just in case anyone forms the incorrect impression that English-language test results and skills assessments can simply be bought online. They have to be earned by obtaining a positive skills assessment from the relevant skills assessing authority and English-language test results have to be acquired through sitting one of the five possible English-language tests. Some states sponsor such a limited number of places in a particular occupation that the occupation closes often within hours or days of the publication of the state sponsorship list, for other occupations they linger on state sponsorship lists for the better part of 12 months.

Covid 19 hasn’t changed Australia’s immigration quota, we still want approximately 160,000 migrants per year with a preference that a large percentage would want to immigrate to regional Australia (i.e. the whole of Australia excluding the metropolitan areas of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane).

Australia doesn’t have a population policy. Our population is at present 25 million but there is no forecast figure with what our population might look like in 10 or 20 years time we have instead used our annual migration quota (currently 160,000) plus domestic growth to be a de facto population policy but many have been calling for a national debate as to formulating a population policy with the Covid 19 pandemic seen as an opportune time to have that debate.

The majority of politicians in Australia have been lamenting the fact that because of Covid 19 net migration numbers are expected to fall by 85% next year and they understand that migration does add to the economy in so many ways and that it’s a popular misconception that migrants take jobs from Australians. I should hasten to add that this drastic reduction in net migration isn’t as a result of a cut in quotas on the part of the Australian Government, rather a result of border closures in the wake of Covid 19.

On the other hand state sponsorship lists are supposed to be a representation of the skills needed by a particular state for the forthcoming immigration year and in the current economic climate with unemployment in Australia at 7.1% (from the pre-Covid rate of 5.2%) we would expect to see shorter state sponsorship lists evidencing fewer occupations in demand than when the last state sponsorship lists were produced on 1 July 2019.

It’s hard to justify the inclusion of many hospitality related occupations such as chef, Cook, restaurant manager, hotel and motel manager, hospitality manager not elsewhere classified et cetera when many of these businesses haven’t been able to trade and we just don’t know how many of them will actually continue to be in operation once government stimulus package such as Jobkeeper ends.

On the other hand Australia has traditionally always needed many of these occupations and they have always had a good representation on state sponsorship lists so if the lists are to mirror current demand for occupations they would be very short. If on the other hand state governments are forecasting what demand might be like in 8 – 11 months time we might see more generous state sponsorship lists.

Those migrants obtaining state sponsorship would probably only be factoring in a move to Australia towards the end of 2021 given current processing times and it’s going to be interesting to see whether the state sponsorship lists focus on the current economic climate or the forecasted improved economic conditions for 2021 or simply use the lists to boost migration numbers to compensate for the lost economic benefit of certain temporary visa holders such as students, working holiday visa holders and temporary workers.

Net migration also includes long-term student visa holders and as many of them can’t return to Australia to complete their courses because of border closures we may see shorter lists of occupations but more opportunity to acquire state sponsorship by those overseas who haven’t studied in Australia.

The silly season usually involves close scrutiny of state sponsorship lists and their publication (not all appear on one July) followed by frantic lodgement of state sponsorship applications and supporting documentation but given the factors mentioned above it’s perhaps going to be sillier than usual this year. I for one will be wearing my silly hat and looking forward to seeing what occupations Santa has put into my Christmas stocking this year.

Government playing Marketer and Gatekeeper - an unholy mix

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

Take Me Home, Country Road

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:

  1. A more restricted list of occupations that is available for nomination by an employer for permanent residence for those with jobs in non-regional areas (metropolitan areas)
  2. An increase in the pass mark for general skilled migration visas (points tested visas that do not require offers of employment) from 60 to 65 points on 1 July of this year. This may not sound like a significant increase however as state sponsorship for the regionally sponsored 489 visa is worth 10 points and state sponsorship for the non-regionally sponsored 190 visa is worth 5 points there is an added incentive for many more people to seek regional state sponsorship.
  3. A greater number of state governments listing more occupations available for subclass 489 visas only
  4. The addition of the regional occupation list which stipulates that certain occupations can only be sponsored by state governments for 489 visa applications.
  5. A number of positions normally available for independent 189 applications has been made available to those New Zealand citizens living in Australia for a period of five years more, earning a threshold income and paying tax although this type of change really just means swapping profiles of applicants from skilled migrants overseas without job offers to Kiwi’s who are onshore with job offers and paying tax.

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)

It must be Australian election time

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. 

When is the right time to apply?

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:

  • Production Manager (Mining)
  • Accountant (General)
  • Management Accountant
  • Taxation Accountant
  • Actuary
  • Land Economist
  • Valuer
  • Ship’s Engineer
  • Ship’s Master
  • Ship’s Officer
  • Surveyor
  • Cartographer
  • Other Spatial Scientist
  • Chemical Engineer
  • Civil Engineer
  • Geotechnical Engineer
  • Quantity Surveyor
  • Structural Engineer
  • Transport Engineer
  • Electronics Engineer
  • Industrial Engineer
  • Mechanical Engineer
  • Production or Plant Engineer
  • Aeronautical Engineer
  • Agricultural Engineer
  • Biomedical Engineer
  • Engineering Technologist
  • Environmental Engineer
  • Naval Architect
  • Medical Laboratory Scientist
  • Veterinarian
  • Medical Diagnostic Radiographer
  • Medical Radiation Therapist
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Podiatrist
  • Speech Pathologist
  • General Practitioner
  • Anaesthetist
  • Cardiologist
  • Endocrinologist
  • Gastroenterologist
  • Intensive Care Specialist
  • Paediatrician
  • Obstetrician and Gynaecologist
  • Medical Practitioners nec
  • Barrister
  • Solicitor
  • Psychotherapist
  • Psychologists nec
  • Chef*
  • Boat Builder and Repairer
  • Shipwright

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.

It's just a thought...

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