visabureau.com > blogs > official blog

News, commentary & perspective from Visa Bureau

New study shows Aussies embracing immigration

by Aleksandar 27/09/2011 18:10:00

A study by Monash University has found an increase
in support for immigration in Australia in 2011

Half a century on from the fall of the White Australia Policy, which created obstacles for non-European people trying to emigrate to Australia, support for immigration is on the increase Down Under.

The findings of a nationwide study were released today by the Scanlon Foundation at Monash University in Victoria. The study investigated attitudes among the Australian public about immigration, racial tolerance and prejudice, government trust and national pride, in order to gauge the level of social harmony and cohesion in Oz.

The study's author, Professor Andrew Markus, said the study has shown significant short and long-term trends in public thinking, particularly in relation to the often controversial issue of Australian immigration.

"Questions related to the immigration intake have been a staple of public opinion polling for over 50 years.  Responses indicate considerable shift in opinion over time, with negative view of the level of intake in the range 36%-73% since 1990," Prof Markus explained.

But while considerable trends over a decade are expected, the study also found an increase in support for immigration from last year's results.

In response to the question: "what do you think of the number of immigrants accepted into Australia at present?", 55% answered "about right/too few" as opposed to 46% in 2010.  At the same time, 39% answered that the intake is "too high" down from 47% last year. 

Similarly, in response to the statement that "accepting immigrants from many different countries makes Australia stronger", 24% strongly agreed (up from 19% in 2010) and 16% disagreed (down from 19%) while the number that strongly disagreed remained stagnant at 11%.

The change may not seem all that great, particularly when you consider that the results for 2011 are a return to the pattern of results from 2007 to 2009.  However, as Prof Markus points out, the result for this year is significant as it "was obtained despite a widespread perception that immigration had increased over the last 12 months".

So, in other words, more than half of the Aussie public is happy with the immigration intake despite the fact they think it is increasing. That's a far cry from the Pauline Hanson era!

The study also looked at various perceptions of specific national and ethnic migrant groups, and how these perceptions may be changing.  Despite the endless Aussie jokes at the expense of Kiwis, Poms and Seppos (Septic tank...yank...full of...you make the connection) "negative sentiment" towards migrants English-speaking countries like New Zealand, the UK and the US was found to be less than 5%. 

However, this number is expected to rise if the All Blacks or English win the Rugby World Cup (not stipulated in the study).

Traditional negative perceptions of some migrant groups are also on the decline, the study has found.

"It is notable that some 95% of respondents are positive or neutral towards immigrants from Italy and Greece, almost 90% positive or neutral towards Vietnam and over 85% towards China.  These findings point to a substantial change in Australian attitudes in a relatively short period of time," Professor Markus wrote in the report.

Negative sentiment towards Middle-Eastern and or Islamic immigrants has increased. But at the same time, the study found that "even with regard to immigrants from Lebanon, who recorded the highest level of negative response (24%), those with positive (32%) and neutral (41%) feelings, a combined 73%, formed a large majority".

 Immigration is often a controversial issue, overlapping with other debates on population, sustainability and racial predjudice. As Professor Markus explains, "in all countries of immigration there is a hierarchy of ethnic preference, which influences attitudes to newcomers, at times determining categories of admission and exclusion".

The Scanlon Foundation study gives a realistic account of the attitudes and sentiments a new migrant to Australia might encounter.

But if the Wallabies win the cup, you can expect a warm embrace!

- Aleks Vickovich 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.

New occupations added to Victorian State Migration Plan

by Aleksandar 21/09/2011 17:36:00

Victoria has added occupations to its
State 
Migration Plan (SMP). 

Victoria has jumped on the State Migration Plan update bandwagon, releasing the highly anticipated changes to its state sponsorship occupation list today

The new list indicates that the Victorian Government will offer Australian visa sponsorship for a number of new occupations, including:

  • Ships Engineer (Marine Engineer);
  • Surveyor; and
  • Computer Network and Systems Engineer.

It is expected that applicants for the Ships Engineer sponsorship have 2 years experience in the field and are class one or two engineers. Surveyors must also have 2 years experience while Computer Network and Systems Engineers must have 3 years experience and an IT specialisation.

A number of other ICT occupations have retained their position on the list, including 'ICT business analyst', 'systems analyst', 'analyst programmer', 'development programmer', 'software engineer' and 'software tester'.

The inclusion of these ICT roles is significant considering that Victoria ceased processing applicants from these occupations in January 2011. The re-emergence of ICT occupations on the list indicates a long-term demand. 

The release of the updated list follows a statement released by Workforce Victoria yesterday, which stated that the state "is seeking to attract up to 6000 skilled migrants and dependants in a range of priority industries".

Beyond ICT occupations, applications will be sought from people with work experience as cooks, pastry cooks, welders and air-conditioning and refrigeration mechanics. No occupations were removed from the previous list.

The Victorian Government has also made a notable change to financial criteria, explicitly outlining the amount of funds needed in order to secure sponsorship. In the past, financial assessments were made on a case-by-case basis and the list only stipulated that "sufficient funds" were required in order to settle. 

While the updated list is good news for many potential applicants, the Victorian Government has stressed the competitiveness of the sponsorship program.  "There is very strong competition for Victorian sponsorship.  Meeting the minimum eligibility requirements will not guarantee you an offer of sponsorship,” the document states.

What are the benefits to being sponsored under a State Migration Plan?

One of the main benefits of being sponsored under a State Migration Plan is how it will affect visa processing timeframes. Applicants whose occupations appear on this list will be assigned, or re-assigned, into Priority Group 3, according to the current processing directive. This means that these applicants should see their applications finalised in approx. 12 months after lodgement, or as soon as possible if their existing application has already be lodged longer than that.

- Aleks Vickovich 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.

Dozens of new occupations added to Western Australia's State Migration Plan

by Matt 15/09/2011 16:51:00

Western Australia has added dozens of occupations
to its State Migration Plan (SMP).
 

Since the beginning of July, which marks the start of the Australian immigration program year, we have been waiting for the various States and Territories in Australia to release updated lists of occupations they are willing to sponsor as part of their State Migration Plans (SMPs). Visa applicants who work in an occupation listed by a state in Australia can apply to become nominated by that State, prior to the lodgement of their visa application.

The government of Western Australia (WA) has today released an updated version of its SMP. Dozens of new occupations have been added, giving sponsorship opportunities for anybody with eligible work experience in these fields. Would-be applicants with suitable experience in occupations listed on WA’s new SMP, as well as existing applicants for permanent residency that were lodged prior to 1st July 2010, now have the option of applying to WA for sponsorship.

You can find the full list of occupations on the WA State Migration Plan by clicking here.

What are the benefits to being sponsored under a State Migration Plan?

One of the main benefits of being sponsored under a State Migration Plan is how it will affect visa processing timeframes. Applicants whose occupations appear on this list will be assigned, or re-assigned, into Priority Group 3, according to the current processing directive. This means that these applicants should see their applications finalised in approx. 12 months after lodgement, or as soon as possible if their existing application has already be lodged longer than that.

In addition to WA, both South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory have both released updated SMPs. We continue to wait for the remaining areas of Australia to make amendments to their existing lists and Migration Plans. 

There are a limited number of visa places available for sponsorship and lists are amended when occupation places become limited or full, in line with economic needs of the State. We therefore suggest that anyone with an interest in decreasing the processing time of their application, and with an option for sponsorship, acts quickly to avoid disappointment.

Visa Bureau clients will be contacted by their case worker where a new option for sponsorship has become available, and should contact their caseworker if in any doubt as to sponsorship availability or procedure.

- Matt Parker is a 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.

Don't believe the Daily Mail's 'death of the gap year' - working holidays are still alive and kicking!

by Tom 14/09/2011 17:42:00

August 2011 saw the highest ever number of working
holiday visa packages processed by Visa Bureau.
 

A recent Daily Mail article by Kate Loveys made for curious reading recently. The article gives the impression that the gap year is set to become a thing of the past due to thousands of young Brits forsaking a gap year abroad, in favour of starting university and avoiding the hike in tuition fees. However, in our experience as a working holiday visa package providers to travellers planning a gap year to destinations like Australia and New Zealand, we've seen quite the opposite!

While the rise in tuition fees is certainly a cause of concern for thousands of British teenagers, we haven't seen any less demand for either the Australian working holiday visa or New Zealand working holiday visa.

In fact, last month was our biggest ever in terms of the number of applications for Australian working holiday visa packages we processed and compared to August, 2010, there was a 15% rise in the number of applications processed. We also saw a similar rise in demand for the New Zealand working holiday visa package, as our figures revealed an almost 20% rise in applications processed in August, 2011 compared to August, 2010.

While we can't speak for the gap year market as a whole, this certainly seems indicative that the idea of a year abroad is still very appealing to the youth of the UK.

The Daily Mail cites a stat from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) that says only 6,000 18-year-olds have deferred a firm offer of a place on a university course for this year, compared to 20,000 last year, indicating that young people are keener to secure their university place than do anything else (like take a gap year).

However, while this might indicate that 18 year olds are choosing to start university sooner rather than later, it still seems unlikely that this will influence an individual's eventual decision to take a gap year. Increasingly, we've found that many young travellers choose to take a year out after they've completed their studies, rather than before.

The Australian and New Zealand working holiday visa programmes are built for this, in that it allows people aged between 18 and 30 to apply to live and work in Australia for up to a year. As a result, there's no urgency for teenagers fresh from college to apply for the visa, and they can choose instead to travel after finishing university (where they can gain some valuable life experience before entering the job market).

Applying for an Australian Working Holiday Visa

To be eligible for an Australian Working Holiday Visa, the application must be made overseas and the applicant must:

  • Be aged between 18 and 30 years (inclusive) of age and unaccompanied by dependent children;
  • Be an eligible passport holder with at least 1 year until renewal on their passport;
  • Be able to show sufficient funds for a return or onward fare and an adequate amount of funds for the first part of their stay; and
  • Be of good character and meet the health criteria.

Think you might be eligible? Fill in the online Australian working holiday visa application and find out!

Applying for a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa

To be eligible for the New Zealand Working Holiday Visa, applicants must:

  • Hold a valid passport from the country whose scheme they are applying under;
  • Be aged no less than 18 years of age and no more than 30 years of age
  • Not be accompanied by children;
  • Have a return ticket, or sufficient funds to purchase such a ticket;
  • Meet health and character requirements;
  • Be the holder of a valid temporary permit if applying from within New Zealand; and
  • Not previously have been approved a visa or permit under a Working Holiday Scheme.

Interested in living and working in New Zealand? Complete the online New Zealand working holiday visa application and see for yourself!

- Tom Blackett is Marketing Manager for the 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.

Submitting the health assessment for your Australian visa application with eHealth

by Matt 14/09/2011 16:19:00

eHealth

eHEalth is now mandatory for Australian
visa applicants from the UK and Ireland.
 

As of 1 August 2011, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) have classified the UK and Ireland, along with 12 other countries, as places where anyone applying for an Australian visa that is part of the General Skilled Migration (GSM) program must submit their health assessments electronically.

This must be done using the Department’s 'eHealth' system. eHealth will be mandatory for all applications, with the only exceptions being for employer sponsored visas (ie. subclasses 457, 119 and 121).

What is eHealth?

DIAC’s eHealth service has been operating in ten countries since 2005. However, until this point, it has not been a mandatory requirement for applicants from the UK and Ireland.

eHealth results in significantly faster processing of medical results, since it is a paperless submission procedure, allowing panel doctors (authorised by DIAC) to submit examination results and upload photos and chest X-Rays directly to the DIAC office assessing their application.

The panel doctor will use the information provided by the applicant to log on to DIAC’s eHealth system, locate the application, and submit health assessment results when they are ready. This information is received by DIAC instantly, and the Department claim that 75 percent of results are ‘auto-cleared’ with no manual intervention. The remaining 25 percent have a processing timeframe of just 48 hours, with many processed and finalised in minutes.

How does this affect the documents I can provide at the time of lodging my Australian visa application?

Those applying for family or partner-based visas should note that health assessments can no longer be provided at time of application lodgement, and will be requested after the application has been lodged by the case officer assigned to assess the application.

At that point, applicants for these visa types will be provided with a specific reference number (referred to as a HAP ID) which they should provide to the panel doctor at the appointment.

DIAC intends to enable eHealth globally and we recommend applicants use the facility where it is available. The fourteen countries in which panel doctors should now supply health assessments electronically are as follows:

Bangladesh Brazil Colombia (Bogota region only) Hong Kong Macau Ireland Malaysia
Nepal Singapore South Korea Taiwan Thailand United Kingdom Vietnam

Visa Bureau clients will be sent the relevant eHealth forms to take to their appointment at the appropriate time by their case worker, and should contact their caseworker if there is any uncertainty about how eHealth affects their application.

- Matt Parker is a 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.