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The 457 visa row and working in Australia

by Tom 7/12/2014 5:53:00 PM

457 visa

The 457 visa debate has 
escalated in recent weeks.

The Australian federal government's decision to tighten rules regarding the 457 visa program has ignited a bitter row across the country. Everyone from the prime minister down has weighed into the debate but what does this spell for anyone wanting to work in Australia?

What are the changes?

Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor announced that he would be tightening the visa stream's rules late last month. Using the latest employment records, the minister said increased visa approval rates contrasted against steady employment rates as justification for the rules changes.

The minister said rates had risen by over 20% in the year to January 2012; this, combined with input from unions and even word of mouth from local voters was proof that the system is being abused by opportunistic employers to undercut local workers.

The minister said he would be increasing English language requirements for visa approvals as well as the minimum wage requirements and providing greater power to investigate spurious visa approvals.

What has been the reaction?

The minister's announcement trigger a dispute which quickly escalated to Prime Minister Julia Gillard's attention, who defended Mr O'Connor's decision and then clashed with Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.

Both parties have accused the other of stoking xenophobic sentiment among communities in order to win votes, sentiment which has led to at least one protest march in Melbourne - with another reportedly scheduled for today - and the reemergence of controversial politician Pauline Hanson.

Workers' unions in Australia have also had their say, defending the visa option but supporting the changes, citing reports of the undercutting of local workers as well as the abuse of foreign workers who are afraid of speaking out through fear of losing their job.

ACTU Secretary David Oliver said his union will be establishing a national campaign and phone line for foreign workers to report the abuse. Mr Oliver cited one case of a Filipino sandblaster who was forced to do extra work for his boss.

"He was made to clean out office toilets, he was made to clean the bosses house, he had to go over and mow the boss' son's lawn," said Mr Oliver, adding that the man eventually complained and was subsequently deported.

What are the realities of the program?

As Australia's economy has largely been supported in recent years - particularly through the global financial crisis - by the resources industry, much of the 457 visa debate has focused on bringing in workers for mining and construction projects.

Cameron Dart, general manager of AWX Contracting, says that while Australian workers may be available for such projects, many are reluctant to move to the projects' remote locations.

Mr Dart said hiring a foreign workers on a 457 visa is often not a cheaper option; costing up to 20% more than hiring an Australian worker.

The real concern according to Mr Dart however, is the debate's focus on these industries when in fact, the industries which rely on the 457 visa program the most are health and social care and food processing - particularly those based in regional Australia.

Citing a recent study by the National Farmers' Federation, Mr Dart said there was 2.5 jobs available for every 1 graduate studying an agricultural discipline.

Mr Dart also said that while the mining industry is in need of workers, many are siphoned off from surrounding areas, leaving further gaps in other industries which are already in need of workers.

What does this mean for foreign workers?

A tightening of the 457 visa stream is likely to leave opportunities for foreign workers on other categories of visa. Many parts of regional Australia depend on foreign workers to sustain their industries - particularly during busy periods such as harvest seasons.

Fewer 457 visa workers in regional Australia is likely to mean greater opportunity for working holiday makers to find the regional work which will qualify them for a second year visa.

Fewer 457 visa opportunities in urban areas or in skilled occupations means focus will turn to the general skilled migration program - which is a lengthier and more scrutinised process but grants greater freedoms than the 457 visa.

When do the changes take effect?

Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor has several options when it comes to implementing his changes: regulatory changes, administrative changes or legislative changes.

Regulatory changes are easy to enact and reversible but administrative changes will impose little chance for enforcement. However, it is thought the minister favours enacting legislative changes.

This option means the matter will be debated in parliament, setting the stage for a fiery debate between a government facing uncertain re-election in September and an opposition with a staunch stance on immigration.

It is thought the governing Labor Party sees a parliamentary debate as an opportunity to slam an opposition who have supported the 457 visa program with changes that are popular with many voters.

However, given the debate's volatile nature and the rate at which it has already spiralled, whether the recently-appointed minister wants to take that chance remains to be seen.


- Tom Blackett is the Marketing 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.

British and Irish sports to boost Australian tourism

by Tom 6/19/2014 11:10:00 AM

 

Changes to visitor visa policy
take effect on 23 March.
 

Australian tourism operators are eagerly anticipating two of the largest sporting events in the world later this year to provide a much needed boost to the ailing industry.

The numbers of tourists visiting Australia from Britain and Ireland have fallen in recent years in the wake of the global financial crisis but tourism operators are eagerly awaiting the arrival of thousands of sports fans when the Ashes take place later this year hot on the heels of the British and Irish Lions touring Down Under.

"It's no secret that numbers from the UK to Australian have fallen these past few years," said Andrew McEvoy, managing director of Tourism Australia.

"The forthcoming Lions followed by the Ashes series is just the fillip we need to help reverse the trend."

The last time the British and Irish Lions visited Australia - in 2001 - approximately AU$100 million (£69 million) was injected into the Australian economy and even the most conservative estimates are predicting a 50% increase this time around.

The Lions will play a total of nine matches in Australia later this year, including three Test matches against the Australian national team - tickets to which sold out within minutes of going on sale.

Cricket Australia meanwhile is even more confident with the 2013-14 Ashes series expected to bring in AU$317 million (£217 million) after the last Australian Ashes tour - in 2010-11 - saw record hotel occupancies.

Neale Herridge, director of global sales of Accor, said his company, Australia's largest hotel group, has already seen strong booking from British cricket fans - including those of the 'Barmy Army'.

"Because there's a guarantee that grounds like those in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth will be full for at least four of the five days of the Tests, English cricket fans are already locking in their bookings," said Mr Herridge.

"For the Barmy Army and other cricket followers, the tour Down Under is not just about cricket. It is about escaping the English winter for warm sun and touring the country."


If you'd like to follow either the Lions or England to Australia, you'll need an ETA tourist visa. An ETA can be quickly and easily applied for online, with applications usually granted almost immediately.

- 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.

New Australian immigration statistics reveal latest migration trends

by Tom 3/12/2014 4:30:00 PM

New figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) for the visitor arrivals and departures to and from Australia show immigration trends up to January, 2014.

In the year to January, 2013, the Australian Bureau of Statistics recorded 769,040 permanent and long-term arrivals into Australia. While this is down from the record 792,500 arrivals set in the year to January 2013, it still shows the attraction of Australia as a migration destination. On the other side of the fence, there were 385,070 permanent and long-term departures from Australia:

 

So, in terms of net long-term migration to Australia, there were 383,970 net permanent and long-term arrivals into Australia in the year to January 2014 - a 35% increase from the January 2011 low and well over double the long-run average of 152,136:

Interestingly though, while long-term arrivals remain at high levels, permanent migration has slowed somewhat in the past year - permanent arrivals fell by 3% to 150,560 in the year to January, 2013, while permanent departures rose 2% to 91,230, which is close to a record high for departures:

As a result, net permanent arrivals into Australia fell by 10% from the year to January, 2014 compared to the year to January, 2013 - it's also tracking 9% below the long-run average: 

If you're interested in emigrating to Australia, a good place to start would be taking the Australian Visa Bureau Online Skilled Assessment - it gives you an immediate understanding of whether you meet the basic requirements, and also entitles you to a free consultation with one of Visa Bureau's migration consultants.
 
- Tom Blackett is Marketing 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.

New report has Australians as the world's richest people

by Tom 2/28/2014 6:22:00 PM

The median wealth of adult Australians stands at the world's highest, according to the Credit Suisse 2013 Global Wealth Report.

The median wealth For the second year running, the latest Credit Suisse world wealth report has Australians as the richest people in the world with a median wealth of US$219,500 per adult. In second place comes Luxembourg, on $182,768, with the UK in sixth place on $111,524. You can see the full top 25 below:

 

 

Interestingly, the United States doesn't even make the top list of countries, with a median wealth of only $44,911. Speaking on Australia's status and the distribution of wealth in the country, Credit Suisse Australia’s chief investment strategist David McDonald commented: "Although we are up there at a high level of wealth per adult we've also got a better spread than a lot of the other developed countries including, obviously, the Swiss, but also places like the US."

The number of Australian millionaires increased by 38,000 to 1.123 million people. As a result, the country is likely to produce more businesses and the demand for skilled migrants will increase. If you'd like to emigrate to Australia, complete our online skilled Australian visa assessment.

- Tom Blackett is Marketing 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.

Visa Bureau Testimonial - Poetry in motion as the Parkers get set to emigrate to Adelaide!

by Tom 10/24/2011 10:40:00 AM

We've recently heard from another happy family who we've helped with their application for an Australian visa. Cathy and Neil Parker from Swansea had their State Sponsored (subclass 176) visa granted in early June on the basis of Cathy's experience as a Registered Nurse. They're now planning on moving to Adelaide at the end of October.

They had Joe Tindle as their caseworker and passed on the following message to share what their plans are and how their Visa Bureau experience was:

"We are now all systems go and are flying out to Adelaide on the 31st of this month. Being a Registered Nurse there appears to be a lot of opportunities for work and I have started applying already.

We are going to be staying in the centre of Adelaide until we decide where we want to settle to rent. Our two little ones Izzabella (5) and Antonia (2) are not fully understanding of the situation but excited just the same. I will admit we are nervous of the upheaval but ready for the exciting rollercoaster ride.

Having never been to Australia we hope it is all we are dreaming it will be, however we do have family friends who are always encouraging with any news they have. We must say a big thank you once again to you and your colleagues for doing such a great job in helping us achieve our Skilled Sponsorship (176) visa and wish you all well.”

That wasn't it from the Parkers though - Cathy also wrote us a poem about their visa application process!


The Parker family plan on emigrating to Adelaide at
the end of September.
 

Where do I start? What can I say?
To tell how the Visa Bureau helped us on our way.

A wonderful welcome and informative start.
All helping together playing their part.

On-going advice and updates galore.
Helping us feel that there is always an open door.

Lucas, Joseph and Lauren all great.
Emailing and phoning to keep us up to date.

We can say only thanks and let everyone see.
That without your help, goodness knows where we would be.

Our Visas are granted congratulations you say
We are so grateful for you all helping us on our way.

We just wanted to say thanks in a different way!

If you've recently used the Australian Visa Bureau to emigrate to Australia and would like to get in touch, we'd love to hear from you!

Don't worry if you're not quite as creative as Cathy (though poems are always welcome) - just send an email directly to your caseworker or send it through to us using the contact form and we'll be in touch shortly to gather more information from you.

- Tom Blackett is Marketing 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.

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

by Tom 9/14/2011 5:42:00 PM

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.

Visa Bureau Reviews - the Gillis family have their visas and are moving to Perth!

by Tom 6/29/2011 9:54:00 AM

Gillis family

The Gillis family plan on emigrating to
Perth in 2012.
 

With another Australian visa application granted, we've received another testimonial come through from a satisfied client.

Angela and Mick Gillis had their State Sponsored (subclass 176) visa granted in early June on the basis of Mick's experience in the plastering trade. They're now planning on moving to Perth in early 2012.

They had Matt Parker as their caseworker and passed on the following message to share what their plans are and how their Visa Bureau experience was:

"We're still buzzing from Matt ringing us on Friday with the news! I've attached a photo of Mick, Myself and Chloe in Perth last April - we went for three weeks and ended up staying seven because of the ash cloud.

Perth is where we will be settling. Mick's been in the plastering trade for 29 years so it's his skill we're going on. We will be staying with Mick's cousin for a little while in Kalamunda until we find somewhere to rent. We just need to sell our house in England - once it's sold (hopefully after Christmas) we will make the move Down Under and start our new adventure.

The hardest part for us is going to be missing the family. Our oldest daughter Lyndsey is coming out next October to get married though, so that will be something to look forward too.

Our advice to anyone thinking of doing this is go for it and we would definitely recommend you go through the Visa Bureau as we could not have done it without them. From beginning to end, they help you every step of the way and are only a phone call away. Everyone involved did a fantastic job and especially our caseworker, Matt Parker; he was fantastic and we can't praise him enough for all his help and hard work. So next year, instead of saying hello, we'll be saying g'day!"

If you've recently used the Australian Visa Bureau to emigrate to Australia and would like to get in touch, we'd love to hear from you! Just send an email directly to your caseworker or send it through to us using the contact form and we'll be in touch shortly to gather more information from you.

- Tom Blackett is Marketing 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.

Poms in Paradise now showing on ITV

by Tom 5/17/2011 6:14:00 PM

Stuart Snell is one of the migrants featured
on Poms in Paradise. (Image: ITV)
Poms in Paradise is a new prime-time television show that follows Brits who've chosen to move to Australia's Gold Coast. The series started last week and is currently being shown on ITV1.

You can catch the first episode on ITV Player, with episode 2 showing this Wednesday, 18 May at 7:30PM on ITV1 and next week's episode showing on Wednesday, 25 May at 7:30PM on ITV1.

The series is similar to Wanted Down Under, in that it gives an insight into the Australian lifestyle and what life is like for Brits who've made the big step of applying for an Australia Visa and have emigrated Down Under.

The first episode featured 31 year old Stuart Snell, a Brit who moved to the Gold Coast and has who has dominated the Surf Life Saving event for the past two years (a beach sport competition which combines Iron Man challenges and life guarding skills).

Speaking on the differewnces between life in Australia and his native South Wales, Stuart said: "When I was doing it back in Wales it was quite difficult, it was cold it was miserable, putting on a wetsuit to paddle in the water, whereas here we walk down in our togs, and surf’s up."

The programme also featured Marcus, Lorraine and their daughter Sky who made the move to Australia a year ago. They wanted a change of lifestyle and now have a waterfront house. However, even they do the same jobs as in the UK (with Marcus working as a builder and Lorraine as an accountant), they revealed that they are £10,000 better off in Australia.

- 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.

Visa Bureau responds to the UK immigration cap and the closure of the skilled visa programme

by Tom 4/28/2011 3:45:00 PM

The UK immigration cap is set to
slash the number of new skilled
migrants coming to the UK.

As of 5 April, 2011, a UK immigration cap was put into effect and the Tier 1 (General) skilled visa programme was closed. As a result, the only remaining visa for independent skilled migrants to apply for is Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent); a visa which is all but impossible to obtain and has been capped at being for just 1,000 people a year.

It's a devastating move, and has already been lambasted as being poorly thought-out and potentially damaging to the UK economy. The move also seems to disregard any benefit that skilled migration has had on helping the UK economy in the past.

How has the skilled visa programme helped the UK?

Both Tier 1 (General) and its predecessor the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) have proved highly beneficial to the UK. Since 2002, the HSMP and Tier 1 helped ensure that highly skilled workers attracted to working in the UK had a clear route to arrive independently.

This allowed UK companies to recruit the cream of the international workforce, helping the British economy grow to unprecedented heights in the boom years of the early and mid 2000s.

Why has the Government closed the UK skilled visa programme?

UK immigration has long been a contentious issue. While public opinion polls reveal that up to three quarters of the UK population favour a reduction in the number of migrants coming to the UK, there has been a lack of understanding as to the various different migration pathways and visa types, and even on the definition of who classifies as a migrant. A fascinating research paper on the issue from the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford can be found here, which highlights how much confusion there is regarding the issue.

As a result, even though it's clear that the majority of the UK public favoured that migration be reduced, the Conservative Party's response of declaring a target to reduce net immigration to the UK to 'tens, rather than hundreds of thousands' is the wrong move to make. By focussing only on statistics and numbers and make such a sweeping change to simply appease public opinion, the Government seems set to keep out the highly-skilled migrants who contribute the most to the UK economy.

What other changes have been made as a result of the UK immigration cap?

Even beyond the independent route of the Tier 1 (General) route being closed, further changes have been made to drastically change the UK immigration landscape. A cap has also been placed on the Tier 2 visa which limits the number of non-EU migrant workers that all UK employers can hire to just 20,700 a year.

There will be no limit on the number of entrepreneurs and investors that can come to the UK, and Tier 2 Intra-company transfer visas will also be outside the cap, but intra-company transfer arrivals will ONLY be permitted to stay in the UK for longer than 12 months if they are earning £40,000 a year or more. 

In addition, intra-company transfer visas will be restricted to five years and no longer lead to Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).

Will there be a UK skilled visa programme again?

While it's almost inevitable that there will be a new skilled visa programme in the future, it seems like this is only likely to happen when the UK economy has risen to a level where UK skills shortages will demand that more skilled migrants be brought in.

However, given how instrumental skilled migrants have been in driving economic growth in the past, the immigration cap seems counter-productive to helping the UK economy grow. While the situation might seem impossible at the moment, we still hope that the Government will see sense and make new allowances for as many of the best and brightest international workers to come to work in the UK as possible.

- 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.