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Report on the Migration Agents Forum at the Australian High Commission

by Lauren 3/31/2010 1:55:00 PM

The Australian High Commission
hosted the Migration Agents Forum
on 30 March, 2010.

With the world of Australian immigration so tumultuous as of late, the opportunity to communicate directly with the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) is always one we're happy to take advantage of.

That's why we welcomed the invitation to the Migration Agents Forum held yesterday, the 30 March, 2010, at the Australian High Commission in London. It was an event held to give registered migration agents in the UK the chance to engage with senior members of DIAC.

As DIAC's Regional Director for Europe, David Wilden presided over the forum. He began by reiterating the reasons behind 2010's Australian immigration changes, citing the pressure placed on the Australian government to focus on border control and a need to "get the balance right" as the primary drives for change.

However, despite Mr Wilden's willingness to provide an open and honest insight into the inner workings of DIAC, the underlying theme of the forum was that there simply wasn't any vital new information to be divulged. This is due to the fact that the changes which have raised the most questions and remain unclarified are also the ones which remain out of DIAC's hands at this time, making it very difficult for Mr Wilden to provide any new insights.

For example, even though a draft version of the new Skilled Occupation List (SOL) was recently released, we still remain unsure of exactly which occupations will appear on it. As this new list of targeted occupations is still to be determined by the independent body 'Skills Australia' though, there was little Mr Wilden could do other than reiterate what we've already heard and that the announcement date of the new SOL remains 30 April, 2010.

Another important change that agents were keen to discuss was the introduction of the new State Migration Plans. When asked whether applicants who had previously been approved for nomination by an Australian State or Territory would be transferred to that State or Territory's new State Migration Plan, Mr Wilden responded "I don't believe [the applicants] will have to reapply".

Unfortunately though, as the State Migration Plans are still in the process of being developed by the individual Australian State and Territory governments, I find it hard to lend too much credence to Mr Wilden's response. Given the huge numbers of applications made for State/Territory nomination that were made when priority processing was first introduced, it seems unlikely that everyone granted nomination then will still be eligible under the new State Migration Plans.

I do appreciate Mr Wilden's open approach though, and he seemed open to criticism and guidance on where DIAC could improve. For example, he acknowledged that the review of panel doctors (which saw the number of eligible panel doctors in the UK slashed from 250 to just 8) received a mixed reaction from migration agents and visa applicants, and indicated that this situation may be addressed in the future.

So, despite an element of frustration in still not knowing exactly what to expect going forward, I still hope that these forums will become a regular event. The ability to discuss the most current migration issues with senior members of DIAC will always provide some useful insights into their working processes, even though they might not always have the answers for the questions that most deserve them.

- 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.

Canada business migration and the Investor Immigrant Program

by Tom 3/29/2010 3:21:00 PM

The Investor Immigrant
Program is key Canadian
business visa pathway

The Canadian Investor Immigrant Program is a Canadian business immigration pathway that's been under particular focus as of late, with two prominent Canadian economists releasing a study that argues in favour of the program being expanded.

According to the study by Pierre Fortin and Roger Ware, statistics show that each family of immigrant investors leads to direct benefits for Canada, averaging between CA$770,000 and CA$800,000. As a result, the Investor Immigrant Program generates approx. CA$2 billion a year for the country.

However, even though Canada receives approximately 2,500 people each year under the Immigrant Investor Program, there's still some confusion as to how it works or how potential migrants can apply under it. With that in mind, I've assembled a quick 'FAQ' to help explain how it works.

Who is eligible for the Investor Immigrant Program?

Eligibility for a Canadian investor visa is based on an assessment of your net worth and your business or management background.

 The threshold amount for net worth is currently just over £500,000.  Business owners are required to show an ownership interest and management role in a qualifying business while business managers must have 2 years experience at the required level. Finally there is a qualifying points test.

How much do I need to invest?

Once your application is approved you are required to make an investment of CA$400,000 with the Canadian or Quebec government for a period of 5 years.

In practice this investment is almost always financed, which significantly reduces the outlay and overall cost to you. Our banking relationships in Canada and the UK mean that we have access to the most competitive financing options available.

What are the benefits to migrants arriving in Canada under the Investor Immigrant Program?

Once your visa is approved you are free to settle in Canada with your family.  There are no restrictions on you once you do settle in Canada.  You and your spouse are free to work, set up business and purchase property. You will have access to state education, health care and other benefits enjoyed by Canadian citizens. Additionally, after 3 years you will be eligible for Canadian citizenship.

To speak to a senior Canadian Visa Bureau migration consultant regarding the Investor Immigrant Program, use our contact form to request a call, marking your message 'Canadian Investor Visa'.

- Tom Blackett is Online Editor for the Canadian 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.

Australian immigration changes update: Draft SOL released by Skills Australia

by Lauren 3/11/2010 5:47:00 PM

Skills Australia provided an indication of
the new Australia immigration SOL

When the most recent Australian immigration changes were announced in February, 2010, one of the most pressing issues was the lack of sufficient clarification regarding the announcement of a new SOL (Skilled Occupation List).

Very little indication was given towards which occupations would appear on the new SOL, aside from that it would be "a new list of targeted occupations determined by the independent body, 'Skills Australia'. As the new SOL will be a comprehensive, targeted list, the current Critical Skills List will be revoked."

As a result, this list of occupations is set to play a huge part in determining not only who is eligible to apply for a visa via the Australian General Skilled Migration (GSM) program, but also the processing priority they will receive upon lodging their application.

Therefore, it was very interesting to see Skills Australia release what seems to be a preliminary draft of the new SOL as part of their release titled 'Australian Workforce Futures: A National Workforce Development Strategy' (which you can see for yourself by clicking here).

If you refer to page 87 of the document, you'll find a section titled 'Specialised Occupations'. It's these occupations that the new SOL seems set to draw upon, although it's very important to take into account the following disclaimer: 

"The revised Skilled Occupation List to be used in the General Skilled Migration Program will be based on these specialised occupations but may well differ in the occupations included. The new Skilled Occupation List will be announced in April 2010."

Therefore, while many of the following occupations might well appear on the new SOL, THERE IS NO GUARANTEE THAT ANY OF THESE OCCUPATIONS WILL APPEAR ON THE NEW SKILLED OCCUPATION LIST WHEN IT IS FORMALLY ANNOUNCED IN APRIL 2010.

1331* - Construction managers
1332 - Engineering managers
1341 - Child care centre managers
1342 - Health and welfare services managers
1343 - School principals
1344 - Other education managers
2211 - Accountants (a)
2212 - Auditors, company secretaries and corporate treasurers (b)
2723 - Psychologists
2221 - Financial brokers
2725 - Social workers
2241 - Actuaries, mathematicians and statisticians (c)
2245 - Land economists and valuers
2311 - Air transport professionals
2312 - Marine transport professionals
2321 - Architects and landscape architects
2322 - Cartographers and surveyors
2326 - Urban and regional planners
2331 - Chemical and materials engineers
2332 - Civil engineering professionals
2333 - Electrical engineers
2334 - Electronics engineers
2335 - Industrial, mechanical and production engineers
2336 - Mining engineers
2339 - Other engineering professionals
2341 - Agricultural and forestry scientists
2346 - Medical laboratory scientists
2347 - Veterinarians
2393 - Teachers of English to speakers of other languages
2411 - Early childhood (pre-primary school) teachers
2412 - Primary school teachers
2413 - Middle school teachers
2414 - Secondary school teachers
2415 - Special education teachers
2421 - University lecturers and tutors
2511 - Dieticians
2512 - Medical imaging professionals
2514 - Optometrists and orthoptists
2515 - Pharmacists
2521 - Chiropractors and osteopaths
2523 - Dental practitioners
2524 - Occupational therapists
2525 - Physiotherapists
2526 - Podiatrists
2527 - Speech professionals and audiologists
2531 - Generalist medical practitioners

2532 - Anaesthetists
2533 - Internal medicine specialists
2534 - Psychiatrists
2535 - Surgeons
2539 - Other medical practitioners
2542 - Nurse educators and researchers
2543 - Nurse managers
2611 - ICT business and systems analysts
2613 - Software and applications programmers
2633 - Telecommunications engineering professionals
2711 - Barristers (d)
2712 - Judicial and other legal professionals (d)
2713 - Solicitors (d)
3122 - Civil engineering draftspersons and technicians
3132 - Telecommunications technical specialists
3211 - Automotive electricians
3212 - Motor mechanics
3221 - Metal casting, forging and finishing trades workers
3222 - Sheet metal trades workers
3231 - Aircraft maintenance engineers
3233 - Precision metal trades workers
3241 - Panel beaters
3243 - Vehicle painters
3311 - Bricklayers and stonemasons
3312 - Carpenters and joiners
3321 - Floor finishers
3322 - Painting trades workers
3331 - Glaziers
3332 - Plasterers
3334 - Wall and floor tilers
3341 - Plumbers
3411 - Electricians
3421 - Air-conditioning and refrigeration mechanics
3422 - Electrical distribution trades workers
3423 - Electronics trades workers
3942 - Wood machinists and other wood trades workers
3991 - Boat builders and shipwrights
3996 - Sign writers
4112 - Dental hygienists, technicians and therapists
4114 - Enrolled and mothercraft nurses
4115 - Indigenous health workers
4231 - Aged and disabled carers
4233 - Nursing support and personal care workers
4412 - Fire and emergency workers
4413 - Police

(a) CPA or equivalent, (b) Auditors only, (c) Actuaries only, (d) Legal professionals admitted to practice only


What does this draft list of specialised occupations mean for the new SOL?

Unfortunately this list raises more questions than it answers, so it's very hard to know.

While it's useful to finally have an indication of the occupations that will appear on the list (and reassuring that so many of the primary occupations appear, in contrast to what many feared), we must remember that this isn't the final list.

As a result, there's still no guarantee that all the occupations shown here will appear on the final list. Contrarily, there's every possibility that occupations which don't appear here could still appear on the new SOL when it's announced in April.

It's also interesting to see that the occupations are all from the ANZSCO (Australia and New Zealand Skilled Classification of Occupations) as opposed to the previously used ASCO (Australian Skilled Classification of Occupations).

While there have previously been hints and indications that the new SOL would switch to using the more current ANZSCO to classify occupations, it's still surprising that it hasn't been formally announced.

So, for now, I'd advise everyone to keep working and not make any rash decisions before the new SOL is formally introduced in April. In the meantime, I will continue monitoring the situation and provide updates as and when I receive them.

- 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.