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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.

Engineers
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.

Businesses to be charged yearly Foreign Worker Levy

As expected, the federal govt used yesterday’s budget to outline its plans to abolish the 457 visa and replace the scheme with short and medium-term streams.

Application fees for the short-term, two year visas will increase by $90 to $1150, while four-year visa applications will cost $2400 apiece.

In addition to this, companies will also be charged annual foreign worker levies.

Under the existing scheme, employers have contributed one of two per cent of their payroll to training if they employed foreign workers.

But as the requirements have proved almost impossible to police the govt is taking a different route.

From March 2018, businesses that employ foreign workers on certain skilled visas will be required to pay money into a “Skilling Australians” fund.

Companies turning over less than $10 million per year must make an upfront payment of $1200 (per visa, per year) for each employee on a temporary visa.

They must also make a one-off payment of $3000 for each staffer sponsored for a permanent skilled worker visas.

Businesses with turnovers above $10 million will be required to make up front payments of $1800 for each worker on temporary visas and $5000 one-off levies for those on permanent skilled visas.

The levy is expected to rake in $1.2 billion over the next four years, which will be funnelled into a new Commonwealth-State skills fund.

“States and territories will only be able to draw on this fund when they deliver on their commitments to train new apprentices,” Mr Morrison said in his budget speech.

School leavers competing with influx of backpackers for work

A recent study by the Centre for Population and Urban Research at Monash University has found that Australia now has 1 foreign backpacker for every Year 12 school leaver – all competing for entry-level jobs in retailing, construction and hospitality.

WORK-hungry backpackers are flocking Down Under to work in record numbers, and competing for jobs with local school-leavers.

New immigration data reveals a one-third surge in the number of foreigners granted “working holiday” visas since the start of the global financial crisis.

The Immigration Department issued a record 249,231 backpacker visas during 2012/13, latest official data shows.

Three times as many young backpackers from China, Italy and Taiwan were granted visas during 2012/13 than at the start of the global financial crisis in 2008/09.

Backpacker numbers have jumped 52 per cent from France, 29 per cent from Germany and 15 per cent from the UK.

The visas are popular with employers in regional areas, who rely on foreign backpackers to pick fruit, work on farms, clean hotels, pour beers and wait tables.

But the university study claims the working holiday-makers, aged 18 to 30, are taking entry-level jobs that could go to Australian school leavers.

“(Backpackers) coming from these countries are not the traditional holiday and work seekers, but rather job-hungry migrants anxious to maximise their income from work here,” the report says.

“In effect, the Australian economy is acting as a safety valve for the youth unemployment problems of other countries, at the expense of its own young people’s employment prospects.”

Australia now hosts nearly half a million working-age migrants who have arrived since 2011 on permanent or temporary visas.

“Recently arrived migrants …. are dominating the growth in the number of employed persons in Australia,” the report says.

“Young people have to compete for less skilled entry-level work with an increasing number of job-hungry temporary migrants looking for the same work.”

The report says the number of recently-arrived migrants of working age jumped by 168,700 during the 12 months to May this year – and 108,200 were working.

New migrants accounted for 85 per cent of the 126,900 total increase in the number of workers in Australia during the year.

“This means that almost all of the recent net growth in employment is attributable to recently-arrived migrants,” the report says.

The report says 14.5 per cent of 15-to-19-year-old jobseekers, and 9.4 per cent of those aged 20-24 were unemployed in May, compared to 5.6 per cent in the general population.

Backpackers from 29 nations can work in Australia for up to a year, so long as they do not spend more than six months with each employer.

Those who spend at least three months working in a remote area can apply to stay for a second year.

Australian backpackers can also work overseas in the same countries, under reciprocal agreements.

Argentina and Uruguay were added to the working holiday program this year, and the federal government is negotiating with 13 more countries including Greece, Spain, Mexico, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Israel and Vietnam.

Overseas workers on 457 visas rise 20 percent over past year

Data released today show the number of overseas workers coming to Australia on 457 visas has jumped more than 20 per cent over the past year.

Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Brendan O’Connor said the significant growth in the program highlighted the need for further reform.

‘There are now 108 810 457 visa holders – a 20.4 per cent growth in the 12 months to April 30. This is at a time when employment growth remains soft in some industries and regions,’ Mr O’Connor said.

‘A recent survey by the Migration Council revealed that 15 per cent of employers anonymously surveyed said they used 457 visas, although they could find appropriate local labour.

‘Increasingly we are seeing the misuse of the system by employers who are not making an effort to find local labour first, or who exploit overseas workers under this scheme, which is why the government will take further action to stop employers misusing the program.’

Mr O’Connor said the Gillard Government was committed to ensuring local workers were given local opportunities wherever possible.

‘Genuine skill shortages do exist in industries and locations right across Australia and we are attempting to ensure they get filled, while at the same time making sure locally skilled people don’t miss out on work,’ he said.

Mr O’Connor also announced the revised annual Skilled Occupation List (SOL), which reflected changes in skill shortage areas.

‘This list, designed to fill gaps in the workforce by attracting skilled migrants to Australia, no longer includes the skill categories of retail pharmacy and aircraft engineering,’ Mr O’Connor said.

‘The SOL is an important tool to meet demand for skills and includes a number of highly valued and skilled occupations across a range of industries including medical, engineering and mechanical services.

‘It’s important this list focusses on occupations in genuine need in the medium to long term and the up-to-date SOL maintains the government’s targeted approach to skilled migration.’

The SOL is based on the advice of the independent Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency (AWPA) and applies to independent migrants seeking to come to Australia.

The SOL is available from the Department of Immigration of Citizenships (DIAC) website.

Asia now the leading source of permanent migrants to Australia

immi2011-12New report reaffirms the ‘Asian Century’.

According to Australia’s Migration Trends, a new report released today by the Minister for Immigration & Citizenship, Brendan O’Connor, Asia has become the  leading supplier of permanent skilled migrants to Australia

 

The report contains comprehensive analysis and commentary on migration activity for 2011-12, and provides a clear picture of substantial changes in the origins of Australia’s migrants, reflecting the trend towards an Asian Century.

For the first time, India and China were the two main source countries of permanent migrants.

‘Seven of the top 10 source countries in 2011-12 were located in the Asia region,’ Mr O’Connor said.

The substantial growth in overseas born residents is changing Australia’s ethnic composition.

In the past 15 years the number of China born Australian residents has more than tripled.

birthplaceThis growth rate was surpassed by the number of India born residents which increased fourfold over this same period.

Between 1996 and 2011, Australia’s overseas-born population grew by more than 40 per cent to reach six million. This was more than double the rate for the Australian-born population and is essential in addressing the demographic challenges of an ageing population,’ Mr O’Connor said.

‘With the government’s strong emphasis on skilled migration, this sort of growth is also crucial to ensuring depth in Australia’s labour force.

Mr O’Connor said patterns of migration are also changing.

‘In 2011-12, half of Australia’s skilled migrants applied while they were already living in Australia on a temporary visa. This was more than twice the rate of a decade earlier and reflects a growing trend of migrants seeing what Australia has to offer before making a commitment to settle permanently,’ Mr O’Connor said.

2013-2014 Australia Skilled Occupation List (SOL) released

Annual Update of Skilled Occupation List – 1 July 2013

The Skilled Occupation List

The Skilled Occupation List (SOL) will change from 1 July 2013, with five occupations to be removed. The SOL determines which occupations are eligible for independent and family sponsored skilled migration.

The updated SOL is based on expert advice from the Australian Workforce Productivity Agency (previously known as Skills Australia). The list of occupations reflects the Australian Government’s commitment to a skilled migration program that delivers skills in need in Australia. The SOL will continue to deliver a skilled migration program focused on high value skills that will help to address Australia’s future skill needs.

Summary of changes to the SOL

The following changes have been applied to the SOL.

Occupations removed from the SOL

ANZSCO Code Occupation
251511 Hospital Pharmacist
251513 Retail Pharmacist
323111 Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (Avionics)
323112 Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (Mechanical)
323113 Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (Structures)

Occupations on the SOL from 1 July 2013

ANZSCO Code Occupation
133111 Construction Project Manager
133112 Project Builder
133211 Engineering Manager
133513 Production Manager (Mining)
134111 Child Care Centre Manager
134211 Medical Administrator
134212 Nursing Clinical Director
134213 Primary Health Organisation Manager
134214 Welfare Centre Manager
221111 Accountant (General)
221112 Management Accountant
221113 Taxation Accountant
221213 External Auditor
221214 Internal Auditor
224111 Actuary
224511 Land Economist
224512 Valuer
231212 Ship’s Engineer
231213 Ship’s Master
231214 Ship’s Officer
232111 Architect
232112 Landscape Architect
232213 Cartographer
232214 Other Spatial Scientist
232212 Surveyor
232611 Urban and Regional Planner
233111 Chemical Engineer
233112 Materials Engineer
233211 Civil Engineer
233212 Geotechnical Engineer
233213 Quantity Surveyor
233214 Structural Engineer
233215 Transport Engineer
233311 Electrical Engineer
233411 Electronics Engineer
233511 Industrial Engineer
233512 Mechanical Engineer
233513 Production or Plant Engineer
233611 Mining Engineer (Excluding Petroleum)
233612 Petroleum Engineer
233911 Aeronautical Engineer
233912 Agricultural Engineer
233913 Biomedical Engineer
233914 Engineering Technologist
233915 Environmental Engineer
233916 Naval Architect
234111 Agricultural Consultant
234112 Agricultural Scientist
234113 Forester
234611 Medical Laboratory Scientist
234711 Veterinarian
234912 Metallurgist
234914 Physicist (Medical Physicist only)
241111 Early Childhood (Pre-Primary School) Teacher
241411 Secondary School Teacher
241511 Special Needs Teacher
241512 Teacher of the Hearing Impaired
241513 Teacher of the Sight Impaired
241599 Special Education Teachers nec
251211 Medical Diagnostic Radiographer
251212 Medical Radiation Therapist
251213 Nuclear Medicine Technologist
251214 Sonographer
251311 Environmental Health Officer
251312 Occupational Health and Safety Advisor
251411 Optometrist
252111 Chiropractor
252112 Osteopath
252311 Dental Specialist
252312 Dentist
252411 Occupational Therapist
252511 Physiotherapist
252611 Podiatrist
252712 Speech Pathologist
253111 General Medical Practitioner
253211 Anaesthetist
253311 Specialist Physician (General Medicine)
253312 Cardiologist
253313 Clinical Haematologist
253314 Medical Oncologist
253315 Endocrinologist
253316 Gastroenterologist
253317 Intensive Care Specialist
253318 Neurologist
253321 Paediatrician
253322 Renal Medicine Specialist
253323 Rheumatologist
253324 Thoracic Medicine Specialist
253399 Specialist Physicians nec
253411 Psychiatrist
253511 Surgeon (General)
253512 Cardiothoracic Surgeon
253513 Neurosurgeon
253514 Orthopaedic Surgeon
253515 Otorhinolaryngologist
253516 Paediatric Surgeon
253517 Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon
253518 Urologist
253521 Vascular Surgeon
253911 Dermatologist
253912 Emergency Medicine Specialist
253913 Obstetrician and Gynaecologist
253914 Ophthalmologist
253915 Pathologist
253917 Diagnostic and Interventional Radiologist
253918 Radiation Oncologist
253999 Medical Practitioners nec
254111 Midwife
254411 Nurse Practitioner
254412 Registered Nurse (Aged Care)
254413 Registered Nurse (Child and Family Health)
254414 Registered Nurse (Community Health)
254415 Registered Nurse (Critical Care and Emergency)
254416 Registered Nurse (Development Disability)
254417 Registered Nurse (Disability and Rehabilitation)
254418 Registered Nurse (Medical)
254421 Registered Nurse (Medical Practice)
254422 Registered Nurse (Mental Health)
254423 Registered Nurse (Perioperative)
254424 Registered Nurse (Surgical)
254499 Registered Nurse nec
261111 ICT business Analyst
261112 Systems Analyst
261311 Analyst Programmer
261312 Developer Programmer
261313 Software Engineer
263111 Computer Network and Systems Engineer
263311 Telecommunications Engineer
263312 Telecommunications Network Engineer
271111 Barrister
271311 Solicitor
272311 Clinical Psychologist
272312 Educational Psychologist
272313 Organisational Psychologist
272314 Psychotherapist
272399 Psychologists nec
272511 Social Worker
312211 Civil Engineering Draftsperson
312212 Civil Engineering Technician
312311 Electrical Engineering Draftsperson
312312 Electrical Engineering Technician
313211 Radio Communications Technician
313212 Telecommunications Field Engineer
313213 Telecommunications Network Planner
313214 Telecommunications Technical Officer or Technologist
321111 Automotive Electrician
321211 Motor Mechanic (General)
321212 Diesel Motor Mechanic
321213 Motorcycle Mechanic
321214 Small Engine Mechanic
322211 Sheetmetal Trades Worker
322311 Metal Fabricator
322312 Pressure Welder
322313 Welder (First Class)
323211 Fitter (General)
323212 Fitter and Turner
323213 Fitter-Welder
323214 Metal Machinist (First Class)
323313 Locksmith
331112 Stonemason
331211 Carpenter and Joiner
331212 Carpenter
331213 Joiner
332211 Painting trades workers
333111 Glazier
333211 Fibrous Plasterer
333212 Solid Plasterer
334111 Plumber (General)
334112 Airconditioning and Mechanical Services Plumber
334113 Drainer
334114 Gasfitter
334115 Roof plumber
341111 Electrician (General)
341112 Electrician (Special Class)
341113 Lift Mechanic
342111 Airconditioning and Refrigeration Mechanic
342211 Electrical Linesworker
342212 Technical Cable Jointer
342313 Electronic Equipment Trades Worker
342314 Electronic Instrument Trades Worker (General)
342315 Electronic Instrument Trades Worker (Special Class)
399111 Boat Builder and Repairer
399112 Shipwright
411211 Dental Hygienist
411212 Dental Prosthetist
411213 Dental Technician
411214 Dental Therapist
Politicians rekindle republican debate

The Treasurer & deputy prime minister – Wayne Swan and the former leader of the opposition – Malcolm Turnbull have joined forces to today launch a collection of essays arguing the case for Australia to become a republic.

Malcolm Turnball was a founder member of the Australian Republican Movement and its chairman in the lead up to the unsuccessful 1999 referendum on the issue.

Mr Turnball backed Mr Swans argumewnt that a new debate is “overdue”.

“I’m very positive about the republican cause,”
the Liberal frontbencher said.

“I agree with Wayne Swan that it’s always a good time to talk about our constitution. People say, ‘Oh we shouldn’t be talking about our constitution’ – that’s ridiculous.

“Of course there are more immediate issues – we’re not going to fight the election on this issue, this is not going to be what determines the fate of the Labor government; it’s not going to be even on the radar screen.

“But we should always be alert to and interested in our constitution.”

Deputy Prime Minister Mr Swan said he wanted Labor party policy to set out a two-stage process towards a republic, beginning with a plebiscite on the best model, followed by another referendum.

“We’ve had a decade of inertia and I think the time has come, and I believe sooner rather than later we have to begin the journey towards a plebiscite,” he said.

Mr Turnbull believes the best time will be after the end of the current Queen’s reign.

“There’s got to be the sense that this is an issue of the hour, and it isn’t an issue of the hour for determination at least for most Australians today,” he said.

“There’s no point having another referendum that’s going to be lost.

“I think our best chance of having a referendum which could win would be after the end of the Queen’s reign.”

Australian 457 visa crackdown continues

The Australian PM has once again, lit the blue touch paper with regards 457 visas and is planning to introduce monetary fines for company owners who fail to offer vacancies to Australian workers first.

Unions are pressuring the government to act before the Federal elections in Sept, claiming that under the current “tick-a-box” approach, companies are claiming they face local labour shortages without even advertising the jobs locally.

The changes are expected to be debated by cabinet ministers this week, with the changes including financial penalties for employers who lie or mislead authorities about labour shortages in order to import workers on 457 visas.

The 457 visa is the most commonly used program for employers to sponsor skilled overseas workers to work in Australia temporarily with a little more than 100,000 workers currently in Australia under the visa class.

The number of 457 visa classes has jumped 20 per cent in the last year.

Currently, bosses must claim there is a labour shortage to secure a foreign worker but do not have to prove it.

“Why do they like 457 visas if they have local labour available? Because they can deport these workers in a month,” a senior government source claimed.

Senior government sources also said the Department of Immigration was reviewing “serious” allegations over exploitation of some low-skilled workers, suggesting there was a “fine line” between the abuse of 457s and labour trafficking.

The 457 debate has sparked bitter divisions within government ranks, with accusations the Prime Minister was “dog-whistling” to racists.

Last month, former Labor leader Simon Crean said the debate over 457 visas was a good policy with bad rhetoric.

“She’s gone the class warfare,” Mr Crean said.

“The 457 visa debate was a good example of the message being taken out of context – because it looked like ‘we’ll put Australians before foreigners’. Unequivocally, immigration has been good for this country.”

Mr O’Connor sparked controversy earlier this year when he suggested the number of 457 visa rorts to be in excess of 10,000. “I can assure you we will be looking to legislate,” he said at the time.

Australia migration intake to stay at record levels for 2013-2014

Australia’s migration program will be maintained at 190 000 places in 2013-14 to help fill skills shortages and reunite Australian families, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Brendan O’Connor announced yesterday.

‘The Gillard Government’s top priority will always be jobs for Australians. The permanent migration program is about getting the balance right between our economic and social objectives,’ Mr O’Connor said. ‘Our migration program ensures skilled migrants will continue to fill critical gaps in regions and sectors with genuine skills shortages.’

The 2013-14 program provides 128 550 places for skilled migrants, 60 885 places for family migration and 565 places for migration under special eligibility.

The government has made a small shift of 700 places – from the skill stream to the family stream – in response to the continuing high levels of demand for family stream places from Australians, particularly in the partner category.

‘Skilled migration continues to make up more than two-thirds of the program because of its obvious benefits to our economy and society,’ Mr O’Connor said. ‘Targeted skilled migration enables Australia’s economy to grow by addressing skills gaps and bottlenecks.

‘It is important that our skilled migration program is driven by genuine skills needs. Under the Gillard Government, skilled migration to Australia will continue to be carefully targeted to ensure skilled migrants complement but do not replace the domestic labour force.’

Skilled migrants who are sponsored by employers to fill vacancies that cannot be met locally and regional skilled migrants will continue to be given the highest priority in recognition of the needs of employers and regional areas.

‘Our regional and state and territory skilled migration program categories are unchanged – we remain committed to helping regional economies and communities grow,’ Mr O’Connor said. ‘A regionally focussed skilled migration program which targets the best and brightest combined with a family program that enables Australians to live with their close relatives and partners will continue to deliver for Australia.

‘This Budget keeps our economy strong, makes the smart investments for our future and ensures every Australian gets a fair go.

‘We are investing for the future, putting jobs and economic growth first and protecting the important services that Australians rely on.

‘The Gillard Government is doing this to keep our economy one of the most resilient in the world – we have low unemployment, solid growth, contained inflation and low interest rates.’

457 Visa Application cost to double in price

From the 01st July, the application fee for skilled foreign worker visas will increase from $455AUD to $900 AUD. The price hike was announced in the budget yesterday. The decision comes as the government continues its crackdown on the 457 visa scheme. As part of this crackdown, the office of the Fair Work Ombudsman will also gain $3.4 million over four years as it gets powers to look more closely into alleged rorting of the 457 visa scheme.