Archive for the Category »Australian Visas «

Good news for potential migrants to Australia who have a disability

The government will act to ensure a fairer, more flexible and individualised approach to people wanting to migrate to Australia who have a disability or health issues, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, announced last week.

‘The government will now take into account all of the circumstances when assessing prospective visa applicants against the visa health requirement,’ Mr Bowen said.

‘A ‘net benefit’ approach will allow decision makers to consider the social and economic benefits an applicant and their family bring to Australia compared to the cost of their health care.

‘This will mean an individual’s health costs can be offset by the benefit their family will bring to Australian society.’

From 1 July, the government proposes to increase the Significant Cost Threshold – the level at which an applicant’s health costs are considered to result in significant health care and community service costs – from $21 000 to $35 000.

The government will also streamline health waivers for offshore humanitarian applicants who fail to meet the health requirement on cost grounds, bringing the offshore policy into line with onshore arrangements.

In order to maintain Australia’s health standards, people who want to migrate permanently to Australia must satisfy the health requirement.

‘Of course, the government’s priority is the protection of public health so we will continue to apply rigorous and consistent health screening procedures,’ Mr Bowen said.

‘People who are considered to pose a significant health risk to the community will not be granted a visa.’

Mr Bowen will consult on the detailed implementation of the reforms with key stakeholders in coming weeks.

Discuss migration and health issues on our forum @


Working Holiday Visa numbers to increase

The Australian federal government is planning to increase the number of overseas workers coming to Australia on Working Holiday Visas (WHV) to tackle labour shortages in the tourism industry.

Martin Ferguson, the Federal Tourism Minister, acknowledged it was one strategy the government is pursuing to address the problem, pointing to Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s recent announcement about an increase in the number of working holiday visa arrivals from Indonesia.

“We are in the process of negotiating a range of other bilateral agreements with different countries to also enter into similar opportunities to bring additional holiday visa workers to Australia to assist especially the tourism industry,” he told a tourism industry breakfast in Brisbane.

He said the government was committed to fixing the labour shortage, also pointing to a 3 year trial to bring workers from Pacific nations and East Timor to Australia during the tourism industry’s peak season.

He said Immigration Minister Chris Bowen was still considering calls from a tourism employment round table event last year to extend the working holidaymaker visa to tourism workers.

Moving to Victoria?

Applications for Victorian State Sponsorship under the Skilled Sponsored 886 visa will remain open until 01.01.2013.  (Note that the 886 visa is not part of DIAC’s SkillSelect program).

From 01.07.2012, note that at the time of lodging your Victorian State Sponsorship application, you must also lodge a matching skills assessment for your occupation.

Remember that the Skilled – Sponsored (176) visa sponsorship option has now been removed and replaced by the Skilled Nominated (190) visa and the Skilled – Regional Sponsored (475/489) visa sponsorship application has been removed and replaced by the Skilled Regional (489) visa.

Closure of Provisional Business Visa State Sponsorship

Closure of Provisional Business Visa State Sponsorship

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Provisional Business Visas and State Sponsorship Processing

In anticipation of the 1 July 2012 introduction of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s Business Skills Program Reforms, receipt of applications for Provisional Victoria State Sponsorship for the following three visa sub-classes have now CLOSED.

> Business Owner (Provisional) visa #163,
> Senior Executive (Provisional) #164,and
> Investor (Provisional) #165.

Further advice relating to these visas will be posted during July.

1,700 workers to be brought in on 457 visas to work on Western Australia mining project

Unions have slammed the Federal Government’s announcement of an agreement that will allow more than 1,700 foreign workers to be brought in to work on a large Western Australian mining project.

The agreement, the first of its kind, will allow the Roy Hill project in the Pilbara to sponsor overseas workers on 457 visas.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen says the project will have massive economic benefits.

“This is about providing certainty for investors,” he said.

But it has drawn an angry response from union leaders, who have accused the Government of “sheer lunacy”.

Paul Howes from the Australian Workers Union says it is bad news for Australian workers.

“Frankly, I just can’t get my head around what political genius thought this was a good idea,” he said.

“Who thought this is a great thing to do today? It is just sheer lunacy. Sheer lunacy.”

Dave Noonan from the CFMEU says the Government is selling out workers.

“The Minister’s press release described this as a historic announcement,” he said.

“It is indeed a historic announcement when a Labor Minister puts the interests of billionaire mining companies ahead of the interests of working Australians and the Australian community at large.”

The Federal Government frontbencher Gary Gray has defended the decision.

He says the Government wants to make sure major projects are built on time and on budget.

“As you start building you may discover you need this particular welding skill or that particular scaffolding skill, that needs to be on hand and available right now,” he said.

“The quickest way to access that is to make sure you have an intelligent system.”

The Government says more large-scale agreements are under negotiation.

Preferential Visa treatment if you’ve five million Australian dollars to spare

If you’ve FIVE MILLION Australian dollars going spare, then you could be in line for preferential visa treatment under new rules set to be introduced by the Federal Government in the next couple of months.

Those who are able to invest that sum, will be eligible under the plan will receive concessional treatment when applying for permanent residency.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen says there are already some special arrangements in place, but he thinks it can be done better.

“We want to attract people who want to invest in Australia,” he said.

“I think we can do it better, I think we can attract people, particularly people who want to innovate, who want to take risks, who want to invest in areas which might have trouble attracting capital in Australia.”

Mr Bowen said the Government would also make changes to the broader business visa program.

“We want them to make a commitment to Australia financially, we also want them to make some commitment to Australia emotionally, and we’ll have a range of measures in place which I’ll be announcing later today to do that.

Extra skilled migration places for 2012-2013

The Australian Government has announced a targeted increase to the 2012–13 migration program, providing additional places to help fill skills shortages in parts of the Australian economy.

Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Chris Bowen MP said the planned migration program in the 2012–13 Budget would provide support to the growth regions and sectors of Australia’s economy struggling to meet acute skills shortages.

‘The measured increase of 5000 places—from 185 000 to 190 000—comes in the context of significant skills gaps in both the short and medium term in certain sectors of our patchwork economy,’ Mr Bowen said.

The 2012–13 migration program includes a skill stream of 129 250 places, 60 185 family places and a special eligibility stream of 565 places.

Mr Bowen said regional visas would also continue to be given high processing priority to recognise the needs of regional employers and encourage regional migration.

Up to 16 000 places have been reserved for the regional sponsored migration scheme (skilled) to ensure those areas have the support they need to fill skills gaps, grow local economies and strengthen communities.

‘Skilled migrants are increasingly moving to growth regions and places where there is demand—they are complementing rather than competing with our domestic labour force,’ Mr Bowen said.

‘Further recent reforms have made employer-sponsored programs more streamlined and responsive.’

The Gillard Government has undertaken systematic reforms of Australia’s skilled migration program since 2007, ensuring skilled migrants now have higher levels of productivity and stronger employment outcomes.

Mr Bowen said the government also recognised the important social benefits of close family reunion, reflected in the increase in family places from 58 600 to 60 185.

‘It’s obviously important that people be able to live with family members, which is recognised in the increased places to help meet growing demand. Importantly, partners and children can also be great contributors to our nation’s productivity,’ Mr Bowen said.

‘Our skilled migration program is driven by Australia’s genuine skills needs and not simply by those who wish to become Australian residents. We believe we have the balance right.’

Widespread visa fraud alleged within Australia’s Immigration Dept

Australia’s Immigration Department has been rocked by claims of frequent and widespread fraud in visa applications, which insiders say has led to child trafficking on Australian soil.

The allegations relate to family visa applications in which Pakistanis are claiming to be from Afghanistan.

While immigration officials often detect the fraud, in many cases they are overruled on appeal.

A former employee at the Australian High Commission in Islamabad, who wishes to remain anonymous, says she witnessed visa fraud in her office “on a daily basis”.

“Definitely, in fact I would say just about daily, a large percentage of my caseload would’ve been Pakistanis claiming to be Afghan refugees or Afghan asylum seekers,” she said.

It is something that even refugee advocates acknowledge.

“I’m not sure that I would say regularly, but it’s certainly something I have come across,” migration agent Marion Le said.

“I know there are people living now in Australia as permanent residents, as citizens who are actually citizens of Pakistan but who pass themselves off as Afghans.”

The ABC also obtained a letter from another Immigration Department employee which details the extent of the problem.

“Illegal facilitation of non-family members, children, child brides, and unknown strangers via false documents, false statements and false applications,” the letter reads.

The letter said some visa holders already in Australia are sponsoring family members who are in fact no relation at all.

“Afghans in Pakistan are being coached by ever more informed relatives and agents in Australia about how to sidestep DIAC’s (Department of Immigration and Citizenship) integrity processes,” the letter reads.

“When particular visa subclasses are being cracked down on – for instance the ‘orphan relative’ and ‘carer’ visas – the fraud simply moves to other caseloads.

“Family reunification visas are now the preferred ‘fraud du jour’.”

The former High Commission employee agrees with the letter’s sentiments.

“I know that there are children that have come to Australia who are not related to the people that they have been sponsored by – they’re not part of that person’s family,” she said.

“You know they’ve just been lost in the system – lost in the world wherever they are.”

Ms Le said she often comes across “women and girls who have been beaten and their families who don’t leave for cultural reasons”.

“I’ve got four cases on my books at the moment of very, very serious abuse here in Australia,” Ms Le said.
Source of frustration

Immigration Department spokesman Sandi Logan acknowledges that there are issues.

“We have been able in fact to halt a number of attempts where people have tried to pass off children as their own,” he said.

“This is unfortunate that this occurs, but fortunately we do have systems in place to detect and to prevent [it].”

The former High Commission employee says many visa applications were detected and rejected, but that is when the Migration Review Tribunal (MRT) would intervene.

“The sponsor would go to the MRT in Australia and the case would be remitted, and in that case we’d have no choice but to grant [the visa],” she said.

She says the decisions were “an endless source of frustration”.

“Sometimes you got to the point where you thought ‘why bother refusing’,” she said.

Mr Logan says he can understand the frustrations of staff, but that is why a review mechanism is in place.

“It doesn’t mean that we get it wrong when the decision is overturned – it is more often than not the passage of time which has resulted in either new evidence coming to light or new circumstances presenting themselves over time,” he said.

In some visa categories, more than half of all rejections are later overturned on appeal at the MRT, despite the decisions of the Immigration Department.

The MRT and Refugee Review Tribunal currently have about 100 members constantly processing a backlog of thousands of visa appeals.

Tribunals chief Denis O’Brien admitted to 7.30 that his workers “are not coping particularly well at the moment”, but defended the decision-making process.

“Our decision making is sound, notwithstanding the fact that we’ve got a large volume to deal with,” he said.

“When they appeal to us they will often want to put evidence before us that addresses the deficiency in their case when they lost originally before the department.”

Young people still drawn to Australia on Working Holiday Visas

The number of young travellers heading to Australia on Working Holiday Visas increased by 3% in 2011, according to figures released by ‘Destination New South Wales’ at the Australian Youth Tourism Exchange on the Sunshine Coast.

The number of working holiday makers who went to NSW grew by 2.1% alone for the same period. NSW saw a majority of the 241,000 working tourists with 72.5% of the total.

In an effort to make Australia an even more attractive destination for young people, ATEC managing director Felicia Mariani, said ATEC had recently put forth a proposal to the Federal Government to adjust the eligibility settings for the Working Holiday Visa (WHV).

“Australia stands to make significant economic gains through simple adjustments to the eligibility settings for this visa – benefits that would extend throughout Australia and to many sectors of the economy,” Ms Mariani said.

“ATEC is strongly advocating for the extension of the regional classification to the tourism industry – allowing WHV holders to extend their visa by 12 months after completing 88 days of work in a regional area and this has benefits that go beyond attracting more young travellers.”

Ms Mariani said the youth travel market is extremely important to our tourism industry as they spend more than leisure visitors, create jobs, help fill semi-skilled and unskilled positions and contribute to regional economies.

Restaurenters push for changes to employer-sponsored visas

Top names in Australia’s culinary / restaurant industry have been lobbying the Australian govt to make changes to the employer-sponsored visa system in order to counteract crippling skills shortages in the restaurant industry.

Neil Perry, who heads Australia’s largest fine-dining group, Lucio Galetto of Sydney’s Lucio’s and Armando Percuoco of Buon Ricordo met with with Immigration Minister Chris Bowen last week to lobby for changes to skilled visa requirements to allow employers to more readily sponsor a wide range of staff, from chefs, sommeliers and maitre d’s to bar staff and – given the drift to seafood restaurants – fishmongers.

Tetsuya Wakuda, Guillaume Brahimi and Serge Dansereau back the push. News of the move coincided with an announcement by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott yesterday that employer-sponsored visas for skilled migrants would be central to a Coalition government migration program. According to the group’s submission to the minister, some restaurants now face a 25 to 35 per cent skill shortage, affecting their ability to function properly even at present levels. “I’m creating 100 jobs [in Melbourne],” Mr Perry said. “I employ 520 staff and that’s going to 620 Australia-wide. If it was a car company going to the government with that many staff they’d give me $30 million.” The group argues that changes to visa requirements from July 1 will only exacerbate the shortage, limiting employers’ scope to claim exemptions from English-language requirements to ministers of religion and certain scientists. “Why,” Mr Percuoco asked. “Pasta doesn’t speak English.”