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New legislation regarding Australian skilled migration

by Lauren 12/17/2009 5:30:00 PM

Forthcoming changes are most likely to
affect tradespeople.

In an unexpected, and unannounced, Christmas present from the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) new legislation has been made regarding Australian skilled migration that will be implemented from 1 January 2010.

At the date of publishing this blog this information had not been released on the DIAC website, and it is likely that this information would not be announced publically by the department until the date in which it comes into effect.  

While the majority of the new legislation deals with onshore applications for the graduate stream of migration, there are  also serious changes that affect the work experience requirements for 175 Skilled Independent, 176 Skilled Sponsored, and 475 Skilled Regional Sponsored applications. The changes will affect applicants whose nominated occupations appear on a not-yet-released DIAC occupations list.

In order to apply for a visa you must first have your skills assessed by a relevant assessing body. The occupation in which you obtain a skills assessment for is known throughout the entire migration process as your nominated occupation. Following the skills assessment is the visa application to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC).

Under current legislation it is not necessary for an applicant to have recent experience in their nominated occupation; it is acceptable to be working in any occupation falling on the Skilled Occupation List (SOL) for the mandatory period of 12 months in the 24 months preceding the application.

What do the changes mean?

The just-published changes will mean it will no longer be acceptable for applicants with occupations on the new list to have recent work experience in an occupation other than the nominated occupation. 

It is most likely that these changes will mostly affect trade occupations (although other occupations may be included) as the legislation has been put together after consultation with Trades Recognition Australia.

All applicants in a position to lodge with DIAC, or close to this point, are advised to do so immediately or to contact their migration agent to work towards this before that date.

Applicants who have an occupation on the new list, and who have two different occupations for the skills assessment and the visa application will not be able to lodge a successful application after 1 January.

While there is potential for certain applicants with work experience in similar occupations, for example solid plasterer and fibrous plasterer, to make a successful application after that date by showing they are working for at least 20 hours per week in their nominated occupation it is by no means guaranteed for all applicants. For those with experience in two entirely different occupations it will require a close analysis of the tasks and responsibilities for each role, and it could potentially also involve additional costs (if an RTO was required and/or another skills application was required). Also, depending on the visa subclass and an applicant’s circumstances, it may have other repercussions on the visa pathway available.

Our priority in the next few weeks will be to help those who can lodge their applications with DIAC in the immediate future. If this is not you, we appreciate your patience and we will be assessing all our clients’ circumstances to see if we can formulate another strategy by which you will remain eligible under the new legislation and we will be in touch shortly. 

You can read the new legislation in full here, and the explanatory statement here.

UPDATE: The new list of occupations has now been released (and includes only trades occupations in ASCO series 4). It can be found here.

- Lauren Mennie is Casework Department Manager for the Australian Visa Bureau.

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

Working holiday visa changes on the horizon for Australia?

by Tom 12/15/2009 6:47:00 PM

Adrenaline activities were cited as
one way to attract more working
holiday travellers to Australia.
 

It's already the top destination for backpacking British tourists, but there are signs that Australia could extend even more of a welcome to travellers wanting to explore the land Down Under on a working holiday visa.

Research from the Sustainable Tourism Cooperative Research Centre (STCRC) recently identified international students in Australia as a large and lucrative market, identifying a new short-term working holiday visa as a possible solution to help students live and work in Australia for a little while longer after they've completed their studies (not to mention letting Australia reap the benefits of their custom!)

The potential changes aren't just limited to international students though, with STCRC also recommending the following:

  • Changing the Australia visa conditions to allow working holidaymakers to extend their visa, as well as a reduction in the required working hours to do so;
  • The development of technology centres for "techpackers";
  • New high-energy adrenaline experiences; AND
  • An expansion of healthy lifestyle opportunities in regional centres.

While changes to visa conditions to allow more working holidaymakers to extend their visa is a particularly encouraging proposal, it was the 'high-energy adrenaline experiences' which caught my eye, with example activities given as skydiving, bungee jumping, skiing, rafting, diving, surfing and trekking.

It looks like it might be a case of trying to 'keep up with the Kiwis', as the top five locations listed as delivering such experiences had New Zealand in first place with 42%, followed closely by Australia  at 36%, and then Africa (4%), Canada (3%) and South America (2%).

It'll be interesting seeing whether these strategies are implemented, as DIAC can be notoriously slow at introducing new legislation. However, even though it's still only at the ideas stage, it's encouraging to see Australia keen to maintain its place as a top destination for working holiday visa travellers.

- Tom Blackett is Online Editor for the Australian Visa Bureau

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

£10,000 for a takeaway? UK immigration crackdown sees employers face hefty fines

by Tom 12/7/2009 10:39:00 AM

Lincolnshire takeaway restaurants that
employ illegal workers have been targeted
by UK immigration officials

In a demonstration that the UK Border Agency is making good on their threats, several restaurants in Lincolnshire that employed illegal workers have been paid a visit by UK immigration officers recently.

In the last weeks of November, officers from the UK Border Agency swooped in on the following:

  • India Garden restaurant, Market Place, Sleaford where they checked the immigration status of all the workers, where four Bangladeshi males and an Indian male were identified as having no permission to work in the United Kingdom.
  • Hung Wang Chinese restaurant, Trinity Road, Gainsborough where six Chinese illegal workers - three males and three females - were found.
  • Florentino's Pizzeria, Market Street, where two Iranian men, aged 38 and 42, were arrested after checks showed that they were both failed asylum seekers who had no right to work in the United Kingdom.
  • Moonlight Tandoori restaurant in Trinity Street, where three Bangladeshi men were arrested after checks revealed they had no permission to be working in the United Kingdom. Two of the men, 33 and 42, were illegal entrants, while the third man, 30, had overstayed his visa.

The UK Border Agency is now seeking to remove all illegal workers back to their home countries as soon as possible.

All of the businesses visited were issued with on-the-spot penalty notices for employing illegal workers and may now face a fine of up to £10,000 per illegal worker. To avoid paying the heavy fines, the businesses must prove to the UK Border Agency that they carried out the correct pre-employment checks to ensure that the worker had gone through the proper migration channels before entering the UK (e.g. through applying for their work permit or UK visa through an overseas British embassy).

It's not the first time that the UK Border Agency has focussed on Lincolnshire businesses; last month, on 14 October, an Iranian illegal worker was discovered working at the Topkapi takeaway on Lincoln High Street. As the same business was visited last year by the UK Border Agency when another illegal worker was caught, a fine of £8,750 was imposed on the Topkapi takeaway.

Rachel Challis, from the UK Border Agency's Boston-based team, said:

"These arrests are part of an ongoing clampdown on illegal working. We are determined to pull the plug on the illegal jobs which lure illegal immigrants to come to the UK.

"Anyone in Lincolnshire who takes on a foreign national without permission to work in the UK is breaking the law and undermining legitimate businesses. Rogue employers should be warned that they face heavy fines and could even end up in jail.

"This year alone, we have fined companies in Lincolnshire tens of thousands of pounds for hiring illegal labour.

"There are strict rules about which foreign nationals can get a job in the UK and businesses have a clear responsibility to carry out the right checks."

- Tom Blackett is Online Editor for the UK Visa Bureau

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

Christmas comes early for Australia visa applicants caught by processing changes?

by Jodie 12/3/2009 4:13:00 PM

A number of skilled visa applicants left in
limbo after the processing changes could
soon see their visas finalised by DIAC

Good news could finally be on the horizon for a number of the skilled Australia visa applicants caught by the processing changes made on 23 September, 2009. 

An official announcement is yet to be made, but there are now strong indications from the Department of Immigration of Citizenship (DIAC) that certain offshore State/Territory Sponsored skilled visa applicants in non-Critical Skills List (CSL) occupations are going to be processed in the next few months.

To give some background, the 23 September changes order of processing priorities put much greater importance on processing applications with a nominated occupation on the CSL, which can be summarised as follows:

"APPLICATION ON THE CSL

If your nominated occupation is on the CSL and you have applied for an onshore or offshore GSM visa it is estimated that your application will be finalised within 12 months from your lodgement date.

APPLICATIONS NOT ON CSL

If your nominated occupation is not on the CSL and you have applied for an offshore GSM visa it is unlikely that your visa will be finalised before the end of 2012."

Essentially, this left anyone without a nominated occupation on the CSL with a considerable wait before DIAC would finalise their visa application, regardless of where they were in the Australia immigration process

As a result, anyone applying through the State or Territory sponsorship pathway who had been asked to arrange police and medical checks prior to the announcement was left in a particularly frustrating position, as the changes took thousands of applicants from being just weeks or months away from receiving a visa grant to a situation where they would have to wait until approx. 2012 to have their application finalised.

Additionally, as medical examinations and police clearance certificates have a validity of 12 months such applicants were faced with the additional cost of arranging repeat medicals and police certificates, making the situation even more unfair.

Which applicants will DIAC start processing?

While there has been no official announcement yet, reports are coming in from migration agents and other individuals who have been in correspondence with the Department of Immigration that DIAC is now in a position to make a start on processing State or Territory sponsored applications who had been asked to arrange police and medical checks before 23 September, with such applications set to be processed in chronological order of receipt, regardless of the visa subclass applied for (i.e. subclasses 176 and 475).

We'll have to wait until the Department of Immigration make a solid announcement before being able to really gauge just how good this news is, and it's important to remember that the number of people with the potential to be affected is still relatively slight; approx. 3,500 people of the 2009/10 General Skilled Migration program which has 108,100 places. However, it's still an excellent sign that DIAC is showing a willingness to rectify their mistakes and make for a fairer migration process.

Once we have further information, we'll contact our clients directly to let them know exactly what the changes are, but do look out for further updates on the blog as and when they come in.

- Jodie List is a Senior Caseworker for the Australian Visa Bureau

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.