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Visa Bureau Testimonial - The Sykes family give us their thoughts

by Dominic 25/05/2012 14:20:00

Moving to Australia is a big decision with an often lengthy process, which is why we do everything we can to make sure stresses are kept to a minimum. That way, when your Australia visa is granted and your new life awaits, you can really appreciate just how good it feels. And while your friends and family might only listen to you enthuse about your upcoming adventure jealously, we’re more than happy to hear from you!

We recently heard from our client Chris Sykes who has just had his State Sponsored (subclass 176) visa granted. Chris, originally from Zimbabwe and now living in West Wimbledon, is an IT analyst in the banking industry and he, his wife Janine and children will eventually be settling in Melbourne but are now planning a holiday to visit Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney later on in 2012.

The Sykes' caseworker was Matt Parker, and Chris had this to say about his Visa Bureau experience:

The Sykes family are moving to Melbourne but have
the small matter of a holiday to get out of the way first!

Firstly, I would say that Visa Bureau were outstanding in their professionalism and business ethic, by the way in which they handled my application from start to finish. From the time that I picked up the phone to inquire until the time that I received my passport in the post with my new Australian permanent residency visa in it, I have to say that I was extremely impressed with the personal service, efficiency, determination and commitment that Visa Bureau provided to me.

As far as costs are concerned, Visa Bureau are very competitive and they were straight up with me from the word 'go' in terms of exactly what it was going to cost me for each and every item, including medicals, police checks, assessments, etc. Not the cheapest out there, but still very reasonable and fair, and remember, you often get what you pay for.

Initially, the biggest attraction with using Visa Bureau was their policy around refunding the full amount of fees paid by you, in the event that they did not believe you were eligible to lodge an application (bear in mind that they do a significant amount of work for you before you lodge). Fortunately, we did not need a refund and our application progressed through the gauntlet successfully. Nonetheless, it was very comforting and reassuring to know that I would not waste any money, as I had previously with another migration agency who went bust and I had to start my application all over again. Visa Bureau succeeded.

Time wise, well let's just say that my entire application with Visa Bureau started in August 2011 and was completed in March 2012. It was fantastic to be able to just email or phone at any time and as much as I liked - no limits and no extra costs. Previous agents have required formal conference call calendar bookings and charged for consultations, etc. Visa Bureau were 'hands on' 24/7 and made me feel as though I was their only customer. Honestly, sometimes, I thought I was because I was treated like royalty. I didn't know that you could get such personal service like this these days (still).

Visa Bureau were, as I mentioned, available at my beck and call. They made me feel so confident and reassured about everything, and they kept me posted on a weekly basis, even if they had no updates. Leonie, Matt, Lucas and the team were exceptional in the way in which they managed my application and I just cannot thank them or praise them enough for making mine and my family's dreams of Australia a reality! I could easily go through the whole process again, Visa Bureau actually made it fun!

Thanks so much again, Visa Bureau, you guys are so personal, professional and efficient, it was refreshing to work with you. I will spread the good word!

If you’ve used the Australian Visa Bureau to move to Australia and would like to let us know about your experience, please get in touch by either emailing your caseworker or by using the contact form and we’ll get back to you to sort out your testimonial! 

- Dominic Ladden-Powell is the 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.

Australia's budget and what it means for Visa Bureau clients

by Leonie 15/05/2012 15:32:00

The Australian government delivered its budget for the next fiscal year last week and one of the main announcements was the expansion of the next year's skilled migration program.

Australia's federal budget contained
several changes regarding Australian 
immigration. 

How is the Australian skilled migration program being expanded?

The 2012-13 will include a targeted increase of 5,000 places in order to allow Australia to address several skills shortages which have emerged due to the continuing boom in the mining and construction industries.

"The measured increase of 5,000 places, from 185,000 to 190,000, comes in the context of significant skills gaps in both the short and medium term in certain sectors of our patchwork economy," said Immigration Minister Chris Bowen.

While the rapidly expanding mining and constructions industries have created the need for skilled workers in those industries, Australian workers in other industries leaving their current jobs for highly paid opportunities in construction or mining have left other gaps in other industries. The demand for many professions is growing but nursing, ICT and accountancy professionals in particular are continuing to see strong demand for their skills.

Mr Bowen explained that as many as 16,000 places within the migration program will be specifically allocated to the regional sponsored migration scheme for skilled workers to ensure that gaps in specific areas, such as Western Australia, are addressed.

Overseas workers who are entering the country specifically to work in shortage industries will be eligible under the new program to have their Australia visa application fast tracked in a high processing priority group.

"Skilled migrants are increasingly moving to growth regions and places where there is demand, they are complementing rather than competing with our domestic labour force,” said Mr Bowen.

"Our skilled migration program is driven by Australia's genuine skills needs and not simply by those who wish to become Australia residents. We believe we have the balance right."

Other Australia immigration changes

The budget also included an amendment to the health criteria within the migration assessment: potential migrants whose health assessments reveal health conditions which will require further or ongoing treatment risk having their Australia visa application denied if the cost of the treatment exceeds a ‘Significant Cost Threshold’.

The current Significant Cost Threshold is set at AU$21,000 (£13,064) in treatment costs per year; as of 1, July, this threshold will be increased to AU$35,000 (£21,794).

What positives are coming from the changes?

We at the Visa Bureau are pleased at the intentions outlined in Australia’s budget; expanding the skilled migration program while raising the threshold reaffirm Australia’s commitment to welcoming more skilled workers to the country and encouraging them to settle in Australia.

With the expanding industries creating well paid positions combined with the resultant gaps left in other industries, the expansion of the program allows even more people the opoprtunity to help advance and benefit from Australia's continuing prosperity.

What negatives are coming from the changes? 

In an effort to ensure the General Skilled Migration Program (GSM) is cost-effective, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) will also begin charging AU$70 (£43.57) for placing visa labels in passports as of 1, July.

While this is primarily a cost-saving measure, DIAC also hopes to encourage people to utilise the free online facility known as VEVO which allows users to check the credentials of a visa holder and therefore renders a physical passport label redundant.

We understand that DIAC wishes to make its processes as efficient as possible yet we appreciate that many of our clients feel more comfortable travelling through border security or conducting job interviews with physical evidence of their credentials. While this option is still available, we are disappointed that a cost will now be incurred.

- Leonie Cotton is the Casework Department Manager at 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.

DIAC begin processing Priority Group 5 Australia visa applications

by Dominic 01/05/2012 16:50:00

Applications for skilled migration to Australia are currently categorised into one of five priority groups. Each group has an associated processing timeframe set as per a Directive drawn up by the minister for immigration and citizenship, Chris Bowen. The Australia visa application will then wait in that priority group until it is allocated to a case officer, who will then begin assessment of the information and documents provided.

The processing groups and their corresponding criteria are as follows:

Processing Priority Group 

Group Criteria 

Priority Group 1 

Employer sponsored under the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) programme or who have applied for a Skilled – Regional (subclass 887) visa

Priority Group 2 

Employer sponsored under the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) programme 

Priority Group 3 

Nominated by a state or territory government agency for an occupation specified on that agency’s state migration plan 

Priority Group 4 

Applicants who have nominated an occupation on the Skilled Occupation List (SOL) – Schedule 1
See: Skilled Occupation List 

Priority Group 5 

All other applications, including state sponsored applicants that have not be sponsored under a State Migration Plan

Applicants within Priority Group 5 have been informed by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) for some time that their application will progress once all higher ranked applications have been assessed. However, the DIAC have just released a new update explaining that, as they have received less applications in other priority groups than planned, they intend to begin allocating some Priority Group 5 applicants to case officers for assessment and processing. 

The DIAC have indicated on their Allocation Dates for General Skilled Migration Applications page that state sponsored applications should be allocated a case officer by 31, May 2012.  As some applicants within Priority Group 5 have been waiting for considerable amounts of time to be allocated for assessment, we regard this as an extremely positive announcement. 

While this brings specific news for state sponsored applicants, the DIAC have indicated that they will release further information about the allocation of remaining Priority Group 5 applications at a later date.  David Stewart, the Program Director of the General Skilled Migration Program has informed the Migration Institute of Australia that he expects other visa types (within Priority Group 5) to be allocated to case officers throughout the 2012-2013 programme year which runs from 1, July, 2012 to 30, June, 2013. 

Priority Group 5 applicants who are state sponsored should expect to be contacted by a DIAC case officer sometime before 31, May, 2012.  Typically a request to complete police and medical checks is issued once an application is allocated to a case officer although, in a limited number of circumstances, a request for additional documents may be received.  We encourage non-state sponsored Priority Group 5 applicants to continue checking the Allocation Dates for General Skilled Migration Applications page of the DIAC website for updates on allocation dates and processing information. However, Visa Bureau clients will be updated as soon as important information which is relevant to their move to Australia is released.  

- Dominic Ladden-Powell is the 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.