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Australian Senator still agitating for inquiry into population size

Liberal senator Dean Smith has warned Malcolm Turnbull a failure to listen to the mood of voters will “seal our electoral fate” as he ramps up pressure on the government to support a Senate inquiry into population.

He said there was a “strong appetite” from crossbenchers for the probe and he will meet the Prime Minister this week to push the case for the government to back it.

Senator Smith said it would be a mistake for the government to oppose the proposed year-long inquiry, arguing a key message from the Longman by-election was the need to listen to the concerns of voters.

“A critical lesson from the recent by-election results for the Coalition is the importance of fine tuning its political antennae to ensure we are listening and responding appropriately to the issues importance of daily importance to Australians and their families,” Senator Smith said.

“The population debate is exactly the type of issue the Coalition can use to demonstrate we are genuinely listening to electors. Failing to listen or responding tardily to policy issues will seal our electoral fate.

“I remain strongly of the view the Australian people now earnestly want to have an active voice in shaping our population policy over the medium term and a Senate led inquiry will give them a powerful and historical opportunity to do so.”

More than five Coalition MPs have publicly backed the probe as well as crossbench senators David Leyonhjelm, Fraser Anning and Stirling Griff, while Tim Storer said he would back it as long as it focused on encouraging migrants to his home state of South Australia.

RBA governor defends Australia’s immigration intake

As Australia’s population passed the twenty five million mark this week, Philip Lowe, the RBA governor has taken the opportunity to promote the immigration’s economic benefits.

Speaking at a business lunch in Sydney, he said Australia’s population growth rate of 1.5% per year was a “basis for optimism about the future of our economy” as is as producing a younger, more economically resilient country.

“The movement to Australia of large numbers of young people over the past decade has changed our demographic profile in a positive way,” Dr Lowe said, pointing out that Australia’s median age of 37 years made it “one of the youngest countries among the advanced economies”.

“Migration has helped our economy adjust to large swings in the demand for labour, and helped address some particular skills shortages.”

The government has come under attack from Mr Abbott and former NSW premier Bob Carr, among others, for permitting population growth that puts pressure on housing and infrastructure. Dr Lowe noted such concerns but said investment was catching up. “The growth in the number of dwellings exceeded growth in the population over the past four years,” he said.

He said growth in the number of young immigrants had slashed the forecast median age for 2040 from 40, since 2002. “Over the past five years, over 80 per cent of net overseas migration has been accounted for by people under the age of 35,” he said.

More than half the annual population increase has been due to immigration, especially of students. And about a sixth of foreign students in Australia, currently about 500,000, stay in Australia after completing their studies.

“People living in Australia who were born overseas are more likely than the average Australian to have a post-secondary school qualification,” Dr Lowe said.

“We also benefit from stronger overseas connections when foreign students return home after studying in Australia.”

NSW Skilled Nominated Visa migration 2018-19 Program

Australia Visa

The NSW Government have announced the commencement of their Skilled Nominated Visa program for the 2018-19 financial year. They will continue to select and invite top ranking candidates in occupations on the NSW 190 Priority Skilled Occupation List (NSW 190 List). They will select and invite candidates on an ongoing basis throughout the financial year.

About the NSW nomination program

NSW runs the skilled nominated visa migration (190) program in order to attract highly skilled people in a range of occupations to contribute to NSW skills needs. NSW’s position as an appealing destination for skilled migrants is confirmed beyond doubt by the significant demand shown for NSW nomination for the Skilled Nominated visa (subclass 190).

In recognition of ongoing high demand and to ensure that places allocated under the program are aligned to the skills needs of the state’s economy, NSW has a selection-based invitation process for the 190 program. Under this process, NSW selects and invites the most suitable candidates from SkillSelect to apply for NSW nomination.

Our selection and invitation process ensures that places allocated under the NSW program are aligned to the skills needs of NSW.

NSW Skilled nominated Visa (190) program 2017-18

In the 2017-18 financial year we will continue to select and invite top ranking candidates in occupations on the NSW 190 Priority Skilled Occupation List (NSW 190 List).

We will select and invite candidates on an ongoing basis throughout the financial year. There are no key dates involved in this process.

About the Skilled Nominated visa (Subclass 190)

The Skilled Nominated Visa (190 visa) is a permanent visa for eligible highly skilled workers to help meet skill needs in the state of NSW.

Under the 190 program:

  • The New South Wales Government can nominate highly skilled workers with an occupation on the NSW 190 Priority Skilled Occupation List (NSW 190 List).
  • The 190 visa is a points-tested visa. Candidates who receive a NSW nomination are awarded five additional points towards their overall points score.
  • Candidates nominated by NSW need to agree to live and work in NSW for at least their first two years in Australia while holding this visa.

The visa criteria and visa application process is administered by the Department of Home Affairs.

Candidates who are invited to apply for NSW nomination need to demonstrate that they meet both NSW’s and Commonwealth’s visa eligibility requirements.

Key steps for candidates

The key steps involved for NSW nomination for a 190 visa are detailed in our how to apply fact sheet or you can review the steps below:

  1. Submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) in SkillSelect
    Ensure that you meet 190 visa criteria
    Record your details in an EOI in SkillSelect
    Indicate interest for NSW nomination for a 190 visa
    You do not need to contact NSW after submitting your EOI
  2. Regularly check your emails to see if you have been invited by NSW. 
    There is no set timeframe to expect an invitation after submitting an EOI. Invitations are not guaranteed.
  3. If selected, you will receive an invitation to  apply for NSW nomination by email
  4. Recheck your eligibility
    If you apply, you must be able to demonstrate that you meet the claims that were in your EOI when you were invited
    Read Are you eligible
  5. Submit an application for NSW nomination and wait for the outcome
    Candidates must submit an online application within 14 days of receiving the invitation to apply
    NSW nomination applications usually take 12 weeks to process. Please note, application fees are not refundable.
  6. If nominated, you will receive a SkillSelect invitation to apply for the 190 visa
  7. Apply for the Skilled Nominated Visa (subclass 190) to the Department of Home Affairs
    Submit a visa application within 60 days of being nominated by NSW
  8. The Department of Home Affairs will advise you of the decision on your visa application
  9. If your visa is granted, move to NSW and commence your two year commitment to live and work in the state

Discuss Skilled Nominated Visas on our forum

Study and Stay in Australia on the 485 Temporary Graduate visa

International Students in Australia

Australia has been hit with a boom of international students taking advantage of the Australian 485 visa and its privilege to stay in Australia for an extended term of up to 4 years once they have graduated.

The Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa offers international students the right to come and study in Australia, with the opportunity of an extended stay of up to 2 years once the studies have been completed – with the stay reaching 4 years for those doing some higher degrees.

In March 50,000 international students were in Australia on the 485 visa, a staggering rise of 16,000 in one year. While studying, the students are capped under visa policy and can work no more than 20 hours per week of semesters. But “post-graduation” the visa loses all its restrictions, and the international graduates can stay with no employment related time or occupation restrictions, giving them full working rights.

The visa was revised in 2013, a revision that gave longer stays after graduation and less restrictions on post-graduation employment. In 2016 the I-graduate International Student Satisfaction survey, an initiative partly funded by the Department of Education and Training, found that the ability to work freely after graduation was of more importance to international students than being able to complete part-time work during study.

Last year, 350 000 international students were enrolled into Australian Universities, an increase of more than 100 000 in 3 years. This inflation of international students, and the gap between enrolling and graduating, is indicative of the number of international graduates we are to see entering into the Australian workforce in years to come.

And while this boom which has seen the number of temporary visa graduates double since 2015, has caused political parties such as Labor to question the government’s ongoing dedication to the integrity of Australian migration, and future job opportunism for Australian graduates.

The Vice- Chancellor of the Australian National University, Professor Brian Schmidt disagrees, telling the ABC that he believes the 485 visa offers international students the chance to study with “flexibility” and “incentives” including travel and financial benefits. He believes it is a program that gives back and allows highly trained individuals to add to the Australian economy.

“They’re not displacing other work, they’re actually very high value people that are hard to attract.”
And while the visa allows for avenues to residency, most graduates return to their home countries once the extended stay period is over. So why do they choose to study in Australia? The 2016 i-graduate survey found that Australia’s reputation on providing quality education, educational institutes and qualifications were the big draw cards for those considering studying abroad.

Discuss student visas on our forum

Increasing number of millionaires moving to Australia

Recent released figures from the Department of Home Affairs show that the number of millionaires migrating to Australia jumped to 7260 in the 2016-17 year. This is despite concerns raised from the Business Council of Australia over Australia’s high income tax rate dampening the migration of millionaires from Asian countries such as China, Malaysia and Vietnam. This influx of the high net work individuals is providing a multi-million dollar investment surge into major Australian cities such as Sydney and Melbourne.

Visa applications have increased by 74% in 2016-2017 for individuals with more than $2.25 million in business and personal assets. During 2016-17 9051 Visa applications were submitted, which is up from 5781 in 2014-15. Of these applications, 7260 were approved.

A fast track Visa can be obtained in as little as 40 days and does not require the migrant to pass tests related to English skills, employment qualifications or education. The “significant investor 188” Visa stream asks foreigners to invest $5 million of their funds into Australian shares, bonds, manages funds, and commercial real estate. 2000 of these Visas have been approved so far, resulting in a $10 billion cash injection into the Australian economy.

In 2017 Australia had a net migration of 10, 000 millionaires, which is the highest net migration of millionaires to any country in the last year, according to John Daley of the Grattan Institute.

Although Australia has a comparably high top marginal tax rate of 45%, which begins at an income of $180 001, it has not deterred many foreigners from wishing to move here. Singapore with its low income tax rate of 15% attracted only 1000 millionaires to its shores.

There are many other reasons why foreigners are seeking to move to Australia. For example Australia has an agreeable climate, is politically stable, with low crime rates and good educational opportunities. Australia’s proximity to the Asian continent, similar time zones and lack of inheritance taxes were also reasons given by many wealthy Asian foreigners in their decision to move here, rather than the UK or USA.

The increasing political strain between China and Australia has not slowed down the private Chinese migration in 2016-17 with mainland China providing 90% of the millionaires migrating to Australia, followed by Hong Kong.

China has become a powerhouse for creating newly minted millionaires in the last 10 years, as a result of its unimpeded growth in the technology, constructions and manufacturing sectors.

One Chinese investor observed he made the decision to transfer his wealth to Australia to become eligible for a Visa once his children started studying in Australia.

It’s an advantageous Visa program for many. Migrants do not have to come to Australia and work, it provides the flexibility to invest $5 million in local shares and projects and their children will be able to attend Australian schools and universities.

AfrAsia Bank which polls its wealthiest clients, advises that Australians can expect to see an increase in the lifestyle and hobbies of the rich such as watch collecting, fly-fishing and New York style “hotel residences”.


ABS figures highlight Australia’s transient population

A summary of migration in Australia recently released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics has highlighted just how much the population moves, revealing that in 2016-17:

  • 377,000 people moved interstate
  • 276,000 moved overseas
  • 539,000 people arrived as migrants

Director of Migration Statistics at the ABS Myles Burleigh said that the number of people moving interstate was the highest in 13 years, and the number of arrivals of overseas migrants was the highest on record.

“However, factoring in departures, in net terms overseas migration was 262,000, which is below the record high of 300,000 in 2008-09”, Mr Burleigh said.

Of the 539,000 people who migrated to Australia in 2016-17, 315,000 arrived on a temporary visa, including just over 150,000 international students, just over 50,000 working holiday makers, and 32,000 workers on temporary skill visas.

There were 106,000 migrants that arrived on permanent visas including 45,800 on skill visas, 29,800 on family visas and 23,900 on humanitarian visas.

Mr Burleigh said that New South Wales had the largest population increase from net overseas migration of any state or territory, with an addition of 104,000 people.

“However, New South Wales also had the largest net loss through interstate migration, with a net loss to other states of 15,200 people.

“Western Australia experienced its highest net loss to other states on record, with a net loss of 14,000 people”.

Mr Burleigh also said that Victoria had the largest gain in population from interstate migration of any state or territory, just ahead of Queensland.

“In 2016-17, 86,700 people moved from another state or territory to Victoria and 68,500 people from Victoria moved interstate. This produced a net gain of 18,200 people, Victoria’s highest ever figure.”

“Queensland was just behind, with a net gain of 17,800 people”.

Changes to SkillSelect Invitation Rounds Frequency

The Department of Home Affairs have announced that: “SkillSelect invitation rounds for Skilled – Independent (subclass 189) and Skilled – Regional Provisional (subclass 489) Visas will occur once each month, on the 11th day of each month, effective 11 August 2018. There is no change to the overall number of invitations provided each month.”
Previously, there had usually been two invitation rounds per month. The last invitation rounds taking place on the 06th and 20th June 2018.
We are still waiting for the July round of invitation results to be published and it will be interesting to see how many invitations were made so that we have an idea of how things may move forward.

Discuss the SkillSelect changes our on Australia Migration Forum @

For information, below is a chart showing the occupation ceilings for the 2017-2018 program year and the number of invitations issued per occupation.

Australian Govt grapples with the problem of enticing migrants to remain in regional areas

It’s a problem which many goverments have faced – how to encourage population growth in regional Australia.

Over eighty-five percent of Australians live in urban areas and nearly seventy percent live in the capital cities, making Australia one of the world’s most urbanised countries.

According to new data from the Department of Home Affairs released last week, 1 in 10 skilled migrants who move to regional Australia move to a city within 18 months

Back in May, the Australian Govt announced that it was working on changes to regional sponsorship visas in a bid to force skilled migrants to stay in those areas.

The department’s Continuous Survey of Australian Migrants revealed of the 6% of skilled migrants who settled in a regional area, 10% moved to a major city between 6 and 18 months later.

Australia brought in 4,766 skilled workers to regional areas in 2016-17 but almost half of them settled in Perth. The government removed Perth as a “regional” destination in November.

Darwin, Adelaide, Canberra and Hobart remain eligible for the regional visa.

Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said the government was “working on” options to improve retention of talented migrants in the regions.

Australia has a number of visa programs designed to bring migrants to the bush, including the Skilled Regional (887) and the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (187).

The government is trying to find ways to prevent the drain to the cities without impinging on the right to freedom of movement.

In May, Nationals MP David Gillespie told SBS News many regional employers were left with a “sour taste” when migrants skipped town to pursue opportunities in the cities.

Dr Gillespie would not comment on the government’s legal options but raised the example of overseas doctors, who often came on visas that linked their Medicare billing to a regional centre for up to 10 years.

Last week, the government released its final migration statistics for the last financial year.

Permanent skilled and family migration fell by 20,000 places to its lowest level in a decade, prompting an angry response from employer groups.

James Pearson, head of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the regions would suffer from the reduction.
“This is a real crisis,” Mr Pearson told SBS News.

“Politicians have failed to plan properly for the population growth in Sydney and Melbourne, and regional Australia is now paying the price because of this cutback in our skilled migration by stealth.”

Australian business group slams highly politicised immigration rhetoric

In the run up to the forthcoming by-elections in Australia, the subject of immigration has become highly politicised, with Labor and the coalition trying to outdo each other with tough talk.

On the coalition side, they were heralding the fact that the number of migrants obtaining permanent residency (PR) visas last year was the lowest number in ten years – the drop apparently due to the government enforcing stricter vetting procedures to cut down on fraudulent applications.

In turn, Labor slammed the Turnbull government for allowing over one and a half million people to reside in Australia on temporary visas with some form of work rights.

What has become an absolute problem has been the explosion, the misuse and abuse, of issuing of temporary work visas,” shadow minister for employment Brendan O’Connor said.

“If you want to know why unemployment amongst young people is so high compared to other OECD countries, just look at the amount of visas being issued.”

Treasurer Scott Morrison hit back at Labor’s claims about the number of temporary workers last week.

“Bill Shorten needs to check his facts. I mean, this bloke lies like he has breakfast in the morning. The number of people here on temporary skilled visas, here right now, is 20 per cent less than it was when Labor left office.”

In light of this back and forth between the two parties, the Australian Chamber of Commerce had weighed into the debate, slamming the heavily politicised rhetoric being used.

James Pearson, head of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry described the debate as “mischievous”, accusing both parties of misrepresenting the migration figures.

“There are lies, damn lies and statistics and I’m sorry to say that the numbers being bandied about in this debate are being bandied about in the most misleading way.”

Mr Pearson said the claims and counter-claims were disappointing and confusing to voters and marked an end to many years of relative bipartisanship on the skilled migration program.

“I regret the fact that what for so long was strong, bipartisan support for a strong, well-managed migration program … seems to have been put to one side,” he said.

The reason for the discrepancy is Labor is counting all temporary visa holders with any right to work, including international students, New Zealanders on special visas, and backpackers, Mr Pearson said.

Those numbers do add to around 1.6 million, but he said the figure was misleading.

“To suggest for a moment that all of those people are working, let alone working full time, is wrong, because many of them are not,” he said.

Working holidaymakers have caps on how much work they can do in Australia, while international students are also limited to 40 hours per fortnight.

Elsewhere, Carla Wilshire of the Migration Council said Labor was taking a “huge cross-section of different visa categories” and combining them to get a large figure.

She too has concerns about the political language being used in the immigration debate.

“I think we need to be very careful. The Australian economy very much relies on a certain level of migration flowing through,” Ms Wilshire said.

Labor alleges the international student issue is exacerbated by students who breach their work limits, often under pressure from employers.

“You have temporary visas being issued as student visas, where the applicant is not primarily studying,” Mr O’Connor said.

The Migration Council said while there were some compliance issues with students, the level of such issues was not “particularly high”.

Ms Wilshire said the recent linking of immigration data with Australian Tax Office records had improved compliance.

Australia Migration News August 2017 roundup

Lots of Australia Visas news to catch up on.


Reduction in Visa numbers

The Australian government is looking to reduce the number of different types of visas from just under 100 to 10. It argues that such streamlining will make the visa system more responsive to the countries socio-economic and security interests. The discussion paper is open until the 15th Sept.

Mandatory provisional visas before permanent residency

The Australian goverment is also looking at changes to the visas system so that migrants coming to Australia have to spend a certain period of time on mandatory provisional visas before they are granted/eligible for permanent residency (PR). The Immigration Department is exploring this possibility in a visa transformation discussion paper which is open until the 15th Sept.


Bad skilled visa sponsors to be named and shamed

Businesses that fail to meet their obligations as sponsors of skilled visa workers will be named and shamed under proposed new laws.

The immigration department is now only able to publish limited information regarding breaches.

But legislation introduced to parliament recently will allow them to publicly detail information about the company and any penalties issued.

Points required for SkillSelect appear to be dropping

Results for the 23 August round of SkillSelect have been released and the scores required for 189 invitations have started dropping.

Skilled Independent Subclass 189 – Non Pro Rata Occupations
For non-pro rata occupations, the minimum score for an invitation for a Skilled Independent Subclass 189 visa has dropped from 70 to 65 in the latest round.

IT Professionals
Minimum score for ICT Business and Systems Analysts remain at 70, but the minimum score for Software and Applications Programmers and Computer Network Professionals has dropped to 65 points in the most recent round.

Most engineering specializations are not pro rata so the minimum score will be 65 for these occupations.
Industrial, Mechanical and Production Engineers dropped to 65 in the most recent round.
It is expected Other Engineering Professionals will also likely drop from 70 to 65 within the next couple of rounds.


No transition period for changes to citizenship rules

Skilled migrants and students caught up in the Turnbull government’s citizenship changes won’t get any flexibility when it comes to the new laws, an inquiry has heard.

On April 20 the prime minister announced an overhaul of the citizenship law, proposing to introduce a stand-alone English language test and increasing the waiting time from one year to four years for permanent residents before they can apply for citizenship, among other measures.

The changes, if parliament passes the bill, will apply from the announcement date.

Liberal senator Ian Macdonald quizzed immigration department officials in Brisbane on Thursday on whether some of the 50,000 people, such as skilled workers and students, who had applied for citizenship since April 20 could be helped by giving them a transition period.

“A skilled migrant doing all the right things (is) about to apply for citizenship and then the 20th April comes along and throws the best laid plans…asunder,” Senator Macdonald said.

Senior department official David Wilden said there would be no “carve out” or transition phase.