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Changes to Australian visitor visa and how they affect you

by Dominic 15/03/2013 12:38:00

Visitor visa

Changes to visitor visa policy
take effect on 23 March.
 

Several different classes of Australian visitor visa will be superseded by new classes next week but if you're already in Australia, or already have your visa, how will they affect you?

The Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) announced recently that their nine classes of visitor visa will be simplified into just five classes, in order to draw greater distinction between work and business visitor activities.

The existing nine categories:

  • Tourist visa (subclass 676)
  • Sponsored family visitor visa (subclass 679)
  • Business (short Stay) visa (Subclass 456)
  • Sponsored business visitor (short stay) visa (subclass 459)
  • Medical Treatment (short stay) visa (subclass 675)
  • Medical Treatment (long stay) visa (subclass 685)
  • Electronic Travel Authority (visitor) (subclass 976)
  • Electronic Travel Authority (business – short validity) (subclass 977)
  • Electronic Travel Authority (business – long validity) (subclass 956)

These will be consolidated into the following five visa classes as of 23 March:

  • Temporary Work (Short Stay Activity) (subclass 400) visa
  • Visitor (subclass 600) visa
  • Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) (subclass 601) visa
  • Medical Treatment (subclass 602) visa
  • eVisitor (subclass 651) visa
I already have my visa; do I need to apply for another?

No. Any visas granted before 23 March will remain valid until the original expiration date provided when your visa was granted.

For example, if you were granted an Electronic Travel Authority (visitor) (subclass 976) visa on 15 March, 2013, the last date of entry would be 15 March, 2014 or the expiry date of your passport (whichever is sooner). 

This will still be the case following the changes.

The changes are intended to streamline and simplify the application process. We will continue to update our clients as more info is released.

However, it is important to remember that all visas which have already been issued, or will be issued before 23 March, will be honoured for their entire validity period.

I will be applying for my visa soon, what does this mean?

If you know which visa you require under the current system, applying for an Australian visa under the new changes should be easier and quicker. If you are unsure which visa you will require, use our online travel advisor to find out.

If you intended to visit Australia under the following three classes:

  • Electronic Travel Authority (visitor) (subclass 976)
  • Electronic Travel Authority (business – short validity) (subclass 977)
  • Electronic Travel Authority (business – long validity) (subclass 956)

You will be able to apply under the new, single Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) (subclass 601) visa.

If you intended to visit under one of the following visitor visas:

  • Tourist visa (subclass 676)
  • Sponsored family visitor visa (subclass 679)
  • Business (short Stay) visa (Subclass 456)
  • Sponsored business visitor (short stay) visa (subclass 459)

You will be able to apply under the single Visitor Visa (subclass 600) visa.

We will be making changes to our online application forms in the next few weeks. In the meantime however, you can continue to use our current 676 visa application and we will use the information provided to lodge a new, 600 visa application on your behalf.

If you have any questions regarding the validity of your visa or which visa to apply for, do not hesitate to contact us.


- 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.

The worrying state of the Australian 457 visa row

by Dominic 07/03/2013 11:50:00

457 visa

The 457 visa program is mostly
used for temporary workers on
construction and mining projects.

The Australian government announced last month that they would be tightening the rules surrounding its temporary worker program - the 457 visa - triggering an ongoing row that is quickly becoming embittered.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced a reshuffling of her Cabinet earlier this year and one of her most notable changes - handing Victorian politician Brendan O'Connor the Australian immigration portfolio - has already made headlines.

One of Mr O'Connor's first acts was to announce a tightening of the 457 visa program, claiming the system was open to 'rorting' - abuse of the system. The 457 visa program is intended to allow Australian employers to bring in overseas workers, but only when local labour is unavailable.

Why does the system need changing?

Mr O'Connor, along with several workers' unions, claims that the system is used by unscrupulous employers to undercut local labour.

The minister claimed employers were bypassing the system's rules by hiring unskilled workers from overseas in high paid, senior positions and then demoting them on arrival. The minister cited cases of 'project administrators' in Western Australia being brought in to work as security guards.

The immigration minister's announcement have triggered a row that quickly reached both Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott, who accused each other of inciting fear and even xenophobia against foreign workers.

Yesterday the Treasurer Wayne Swan weighed into the debate:

"I'm frequently approached in my electorate by people who I know to be quite well qualified, hard working Australians, who are looking to get jobs in certain sectors," he said.

"My summation of this is that there is a bit of a problem in parts of the mining sector, where Australians are not necessarily getting a look in first as they should, where they are appropriately qualified and willing and able to work."

The mining and construction industries have been at the centre of the debate due to their rapid expansions and the remote nature of the projects but Mr Swan was quick to add 'it’s not only the mining sector where this is an issue'.

Why are people defending the program?

However, there are plenty of voices defending the program; Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett has said his state's AU$237 billion (£162 billion) economy is dependent on the temporary overseas workers - known as Fly-in Fly-out (FiFo).

"FiFo workers are modern day heroes. They do separate from their families, they do put up with some loss of amenity, they work in harsh conditions, for long hours, doing exciting work," said the premier.

"They are building this state and building this nation...these are the modern day heroes of the economic development of Australia.

"They deserve more respect, and not to be treated like some scourge of the Earth."

A spiralling debate

Pauline Hanson made her name
in the 1990s as a strong opponent
of Australian immigration.

Mr O'Connor himself has admitted that tracking down and prosecuting 'rorting' is difficult due to the processes involved and the government's critics have pointed to an almost complete lack in prosecutions associated with rorting in the last few years - just one prosecution.

The federal opposition, along with other detractors, have used this to accuse the government of xenophobia and inciting divisiveness in communities with a large immigrant presence.

While Mr O'Connor's changes were likely quite well intentioned - the government have repeatedly stated they are open to foreign workers in Australia who follow the rules - the debate it has triggered has already begun to raise tensions.

Over 1,000 workers in Melbourne marched through the city's Central Business District today, protesting against the 457 visa program by chanting 'local labour, local jobs'.

Perhaps even more disquieting though has been the re-emergence of Pauline Hanson.

Ms Hanson, who led the One Nation party in the mid 1990s with her strong, anti-immigration rhetoric, has stated she intends to run in this September's election due to the 457 visa situation.

"I think [the 457 visa] is a back door for immigration, I think a big investigation needs to be done," said Ms Hanson, who has not stated in what capacity she intends to run for.

"It stinks to me. I wouldn't be surprised if they're using this to bring people into the country.

"I just don't think that there are people there who really understand how Australians are feeling. I don't think there is a representation for our culture, our way of life, our standard of living."


- 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.

Australian citizenship test struggles

by Dominic 23/01/2013 14:47:00

Native Australian citizens perform
almost as badly on the Australian
citizenship test as Brits and Kiwis.

A recent report published in The Australian newspaper showed that New Zealanders and Britons struggled more than any other nationality in the Australian citizenship test. While this may have come as an embarrassment for Kiwis and Brits - traditionally Australia's closest cousins - a follow up report showed that Australians struggle too.

Foreign citizens living in the country on an Australia visa can apply for citizenship after they have fulfilled certain requirements such as length of time living the country. However, as part of the process an applicant must pass a citizenship test - a series of multiple choice questions on Australian history, culture and what it means to be an Australian.

The Australian government has been reluctant to release results publicly in the past but an application under the Freedom of Information Act by The Advertiser newspaper managed to wheedle the results from Australian immigration officials.

The results showed that Swedish citizens scored the highest, with an average score of over 98%. The Swedes were quickly followed by the Dutch (97.6%), the Finnish (97.5%) and the French and Swiss with 97.4% each.

British applicants however ranked 18th overall with a score of 95.6%. Even more embarrassing however are the Kiwis, who ranked among the least knowledgeable about their closest neighbours with a pitiful score of just 72.6%.

Adelaide University Associate Professor in history and politics Paul Sendziuk came to the Brits and Kiwis' defence by claiming that the two nationalities were too often taking Australia's close relationships with New Zealand and the UK for granted and doing little to prepare for the test.

"It is interesting that applicants from the UK, and particularly New Zealand, perform less well than those from similarly developed and wealthy countries," said Professor Sendziuk.

"It is possible that they do not study enough because they feel that they can rely on their background knowledge of Australia, which is a fair-enough assessment given the level of cultural exchange that already exists between Australia and these places.

"It is also possibly that they take the rest a bit lightly - knowing that they are likely to achieve a pass mark even without much study."

The results make for cringe worthy reading for British and Kiwi applicants but there was one nationality that wasn't assessed that perhaps has even more reason to be embarrassed: Australians.

In a follow up report in The Australian, the newspaper set out to find out how native Australian citizens would perform in the test. After polling almost 5,000 readers, it turned out that while most have a good grasp of Australian history and beliefs, just half had a decent understanding of the country's legal and judicial systems.

How much do you know about Australia? Click here to take a practice test, the answers can be found here.


- 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 Australia visa category - is it a good thing?

by Dominic 27/11/2012 11:24:00

The new Australia visa
program is intended to attract
foreign investment - but is it
a good thing?

The Australian government began taking applications for its latest visa category this weekend - the Significant Investor Visa. For AU$5 million, wealthy investors can get almost immediate access to an Australia visa and, if they like, permanent residency a few years down the line leading some to label the new category as the 'Golden Visa' but is it as bad as it sounds?

The new Australia visa program was first announced by Immigration Minister Chris Bowen in May of this year but the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) were not forthcoming on further details until October when the criteria were outlined by the minister.

Significant Investor Visa

In order to be eligible for the Significant Investor Visa, an applicant must invest AU$5 million (£3.2 million) in Australia's economy over a period of four years; this can be done in any of the following ways:

  • Commonwealth, state or territory government bonds
  • Managed funds regulated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission
  • Direct investment into proprietary Australian businesses

Applicants do not need to meet points test requirements and there is no age limit to apply.

Furthermore, holders of the Significant Investor Visa need only to reside in Australia for 160 days over the four years, after which period they will be eligible to apply for permanent residency.

Why has it been criticised?

Critics argue that the program essentially allows wealthy foreigners to buy their way into Australia, bypassing waiting times and the rigorous checks other applicants are required to go through.

Philip Huggins, the Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne, claims the lack of checks threatens to damage the character of Australia.

"What tests are made on how applicants have made their money?" said the bishop. "Have Fair Trade principles or the conventions of the International Labour Organisation been honoured? What character references are required in their application?"

The criticism is particularly harsh given Australia's ongoing asylum seeker problem; record numbers of asylum seekers have arrived in Australian waters by boat in 2012 and even a reinstatement of controversial policies to process arrivals offshore haven't dented arrival numbers.

Bishop Huggins contrasted the harsh policies implemented by the Australian government for asylum seekers with the new visa category.

"Such people, grateful for a fair go and hard-working, now strengthen the character of our nation, without question," said the archbishop, adding that he doubted whether investors would arrive in Australia with a similar sense of gratitude.

The realities of the program

As Australia's mining boom begins to wind down and the frenzied investment from China begins to slow, Australia is looking for other ways to attract investment from overseas - in particular from China.

As China's economy continues on track to overtake the US as the largest economy in the world, western nations are scrambling to attract Chinese investment; both the UK and the US have made it easier in recent months for Chinese tourists to visit.

Australia's geographical location means it is in prime position to benefit from Chinese tourists and investment; indeed, the Significant Investor Visa is even categorised as the subclass 888 - traditionally a very significant and important number in Chinese culture.

On announcing the program's opening for applications, Minister Bowen said interest in applying - especially from Chinese investors - had been extremely positive.

"Since I announced the new Significant Investor visa in May, there has been substantial interest from potential migrant investors and the financial services sector so I expect many people to apply," said the minster.

What does this mean for regular applicants?

Prime Minister Julia Gillard's government has made several changes to the Australian immigration system this year with the most stand out change being the introduction of the SkillSelect system as part of the Australia visa application.

The system allows the Australian government to prioritise certain skills and occupations which are in need across Australia; during the mining boom, these priorities were centred on engineering and construction occupations but are now expected to shift towards the health and social services industry.

The intention of the system is to allow Australia to attract the 'brightest and best' from around the world and it is in keeping with this that the Significant Investor Visa program has been introduced.

"The Significant Investor visa is an important new tool in the armoury of Australia's financial services sector as Australia looks to compete in our region for high wealth and high skilled migrants and the capital that comes with them," said Mr Bowen. 

Leonie Cotton, casework manager at the Australian Visa Bureau, says the program is essential to Australia's economic future.

"Asian investment has proved crucial to western economies and Australia joins the UK, New Zealand and Canada in having programs which prioritise wealthy investors," said Ms Cotton. 

"The criticism being levelled at DIAC has not been unexpected and while critics may feel they have some justification, it's certain that the program will yield both immediate and long term benefits for the Australian economy, particularly should the applicants choose to become permanent residents."


- 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.

Asylum seeker's cricket skills earns an Australia visa

by Dominic 15/11/2012 13:31:00

Fawad Ahmed has been granted
an Australia visa thanks to his
bowling skills.

A Pakistani asylum seeker who fled his home country fearing persecution after advocating Western values has been granted an Australian visa due to his prodigious cricket skills.

Fawad Ahmed fled Pakistan after allegedly receiving death threats due to his love of cricket and association with groups promoting Western values, including the education of women and girls. After arriving in Australia as an asylum seeker, his original Australia visa application was rejected by the Refugee Review Tribunal.

However, while his case was appealed, the Australian national cricket team flew Mr Ahmed to Brisbane to utilise his leg-spinner skills as the team prepared for their first Test match against South Africa.

And now Mr Ahmed has been personally granted an Australia visa providing him with permanent residency after Immigration Minister Chris Bowen intervened in the case.

"The Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has personally considered Mr Ahmed's case and decided to grant a permanent visa for him to be able to stay, work and play cricket in Australia, subject to the normal health and security checks which he'll now undertake," said a spokesperson for the minister.

Mr Ahmed's future now looks a lot brighter with the prospect of playing in Cricket Australia's Big Bash League; Mr Ahmed celebrated by taking five wickets in a match for Melbourne University.

"This is such a special moment in my life," said Mr Ahmed. "I'm hopeful I can play the highest level cricket as well. I'm really grateful to the government and all the people in cricket who helped me, and thanks be to almighty God because I have waited for a long time.

"The last three years was a very hard time, I couldn't sleep at night times because it was very stressful. I was so anxious I couldn't perform well [at cricket]. I'm pretty happy because I can all that behind me and look forward to my future and start a new life here in Melbourne."

The asylum seeking issue has divided Australia all year, record numbers of asylum seekers have arrived month on month despite the re-implementation of controversial offshore processing measures in September. While the processing of asylum seekers away from the Australian mainland was hoped to provide a suitable deterrent, in reality all that has happened is reports of hunger strikes and poor conditions in temporary camps have emerged.

However, Leonie Cotton, casework manager at the Australian Visa Bureau, says despite all this, it's a promising sign that talent can emerge through the struggles of asylum seeking and provide an inspiration to others:

"While not every asylum seeker can be blessed with the talent to put Australia's best batsmen to the test, Mr Ahmed's rags-to-riches story casts an inspirational light on a very controversial and difficult issue."


- 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.

Work in Australia: The quiet boom of health and social care

by Dominic 14/11/2012 16:00:00

Health and social care jobs in Australia

As many as one in seven workers in some
Australian states work in the health and
social care industries.

While the mining and resources sector which has fuelled economic growth in the country over the past two years continues to make headlines, the latest census data shows jobs in healthcare and social assistance now account for more work in Australia than any other occupation category.

The data shows that one in nine workers - rising to one in seven in some states - is employed in health and social assistance, compared to just one in 50 for the mining and resources industry. The health and social assistance categories include hospital workers, aged care and child care, medical and allied health services as well as community health centre workers.

Unlike other dominant categories such as the services and manufacturing sectors, the census data shows the majority - almost 75% - of the 1.2 million people employed in the health and social services sector were educated beyond high school level.

The rise in the health and social services industry is a result of the governing Labor Party policies combined with an aging population, increasing national income averages and a better quality of life.

Since Kevin Rudd's Labor Party won election in 2007, approximately 300,000 jobs in the healthcare sector alone have been created with the census showing the two fastest growing occupations as personal carers and assistants and child carers, up 33% and 32% respectively.

Health expenditure in Australia has risen from 4.5% of gross domestic product in 1971 to 10% today and with an ageing population as the baby boomer generation approaches retirement age combined with an ever extending life expectancy - currently increase at a rate of three weeks per year - governmental research expected healthcare expenditure to reach almost 20% of GDP by the middle of this century, yielding even more jobs in health and social care occupations.

So what does this mean for people wanting to move to Australia?

Leonie Cotton, casework manager at the Australian Visa Bureau, says the rising trends in the healthcare and associated industries are unsurprising given certain characteristics of Australia as a nation:

"The rise in the healthcare industry, although typically underrepresented in the media, is an expected trend in a country renowned for having a high quality of life and a relatively active population," said Ms Cotton.

Ms Cotton says it's an unfortunate reality that the mining and resources industry have dominated headlines so thoroughly as much of the opportunities advertised for people wanting to move to Australia is skewed towards a misrepresentation.

"At the height of the mining boom a couple of years ago, sheer manpower, let alone skilled workers, was in such demand that truck drivers in some remote areas could command six figure salaries.

"Yet despite the well publicised stabilising of the mining and resources industries, we have found job advertisements and curious clients still intent on finding work for these industries while skills shortages grow in bigger, and wider spread industries.

"The mining boom was centred in Western Australia with many projects in remote, rural areas whereas the healthcare and social care industries are spread evenly throughout the country and will present much more preferable conditions for Australia visa applicants in the future."


- 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 South Wales expands Skilled Occupation List

by Dominic 23/10/2012 12:52:00

New South Wales has added a
substantial number of occupations
to its Skilled Occupations List.

New South Wales has extensively expanded the number of occupations which qualify for state sponsorship.

Until now, only highly skilled occupations such as accountants, lawyers, certain science specialists and just two educational professionals were eligible for an Australia visa with sponsorship from NSW.

The list, which originally contained just a couple of dozen separate occupations, has now been expanded to over 100 separate occupations including 52 separate health and medical care occupations, 16 individual engineering fields, eight teaching fields and 24 metal, building or trade occupations.

"New South Wales previously prioritised highly skilled migrants for its migration program," said Leonie Cotton, casework manager at the Australian Visa Bureau.

"Due to the state's popularity - its location, home to the country's largest city and economic hub - it could be argued that New South Wales had a right to be more selective than other states.

"However, with the Australian economy beginning to adjust to the slowdown in the mining industry, the Australian government, and certainly the NSW government, know that in order to continue such a healthy economic outlook, the workforce needs to be diverse and adaptable.

As part of the changes to the Skilled Occupations List, the English language requirements - which were as high as 8 for some occupations - have been lowered to 6, although the work experience for other occupations, such as cookery, have been increased.

British, New Zealand, Canadian, American and Irish passport holders are also exempt from providing an IELTS certificate with their NSW applications, however some applicants may still need to take the test to reach the pass mark for a General Skilled Migration visa

"Lowering the IELTS pass mark and widening the State Migration Plan so substantially suggests emigrating to Australia is becoming incredibly more accessibly for those with their hearts set on New South Wales," said Ms Cotton.

"New South Wales has traditionally been one of the toughest states to receive sponsorship from but the new list is great news for trades workers and medical professionals."

The full Skilled Occupations List can be read here.


- 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.

SkillSelect - Australian immigration concerns answered

by Dominic 18/10/2012 16:49:00

SkillSelect is beginning to issue
more invitations.

In July the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) launched a new online service to allow Australia visa applications to be processed in a new, more responsive way.

We have written extensively in the past about the introduction and implementation of SkillSelect but with the system still being steadily rolled out, there is still some uncertainty regarding how the system works.

How does SkillSelect work?

In short, SkillSelect allows a person considering moving to Australia to register their interest on the system using an Expression of Interest (EOI); this typically includes personal details and professional experience as well as details about a positive Skills Assessment.

Their EOI is then ranked alongside other EOIs in similar occupations. Employers and state and territory governments can then access the EOIs and invite people to apply for an Australian visa.

What determines a state or territory government's choice typically depends upon what labour needs are most in demand.

Each category of occupation is subject to a cap or limit, once that cap is reached, all EOIs are deferred to the following year; an applicant's EOI remains on the system for two years, during which time they can be edited, updated or removed.

How many invitations have been issued via SkillSelect so far?

In a Facebook live chat event, Kruno Kukoc, First Assistant Secretary of the Migration and Visa Policy Division, confirmed that since SkillSelect first went live in July of this year, over 3,500 people have been invited to apply for an Australia visa through the system, with plans to issue a further 1,000 invitations this month.

"The department is moving quickly to secure significant numbers of skilled migrants through SkillSelect," said Mr Kukoc.

Due to the nature of the system and its ranking processes, Mr Kukoc said the system can be competitive.

"For points tested visas, the invitation date to apply for a visa will depend on the potential skilled migrant's attributes, for example skills, age IELTS score and occupation compared to other candidates.

"A client who has submitted an EOI needs to be invited to apply for a visa. SkillSelect is a competitive process and there are no guarantees than an invitation will be issued." 

Leonie Cotton, casework department manager at the Australian Visa Bureau, says it's pleasing to see such good progress being made with the new system. 

"The number of invitations initially issued by the DIAC was relatively low while they tested the system, but now the system has been in place for a few months, it’s great to see the DIAC reacting quickly and issuing invitations to applicants with scores of 65 or more on a regular basis," said Ms Cotton

"The DIAC are also issuing invitations bi-monthly which is another indication of their commitment to moving quickly to issue invitations to apply."           


- 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.

Rio Tinto reveals more bad news but not for work in Australia

by Dominic 10/10/2012 13:10:00

Rio Tinto has confirmed more
cuts will be made to its global
operations.

One of Australia's biggest multi-national mining companies, Rio Tinto, has continued the recent slew of bad news in the country's mining boom by confirming that further cuts are planned, but it wasn't all bad news, especially where potential migrants to Australia are concerned.

We have written over the past couple of months what these changes mean for people considering an Australia visa application, particularly those who intended on taking advantage of the opportunities the mining industry affords.

Whether the mining boom which has sustained Australia throughout the global financial crisis is truly over has become a debatable topic in Australia over recent weeks. Despite Prime Minister Julia Gillard assuring people that 'reports of the mining boom's death are exaggerated', it cannot be denied that changes are taking place.

Mining cuts deep

The first reports of the end of the mining boom emerged when several of the country's largest mining companies, including Rio Tinto, began to scale back investment in the country in the wake of a slowing of demand from China.

Chinese demand has fuelled Australia's mining boom in recent years but its rapid rates of construction - said to be the equivalent of building Rome every two months - have begun to slow, and with it, demand for Australia's abundant resources.

And now Rio Tinto chief executive Tom Albanese has said that, despite the US$500 million (£310 million) of cuts already made, further cuts are expected.

"So far we've already hit US$500 million of annualised savings, and are planning further significant reductions in operating, evaluation and sustaining capital spend" said Mr Albanese.

"That will involve reductions in employment levels."

Mr Albanese did not elaborate where, or how many, jobs could be at stake but explained that many of the projects and mines in line for cuts are not in Australia.

Rio Tinto is a truly global conglomerate and the plans to scale back investment and increase savings do not necessarily reflect tough times for Australia in the near future. Mr Albanese said coal exports in Mozambique, copper mining in Mongolia and energy deals between Mongolia and China were expected to be the toughest hit.

Mr Albanese confirmed that the planned expansion to the company's flagship iron ore mine in Western Australia were to go ahead.

What opportunities are available in Australia?

Much of the intra-country migration and international immigration in Australia in recent years has been fuelled, or at least heavily influenced by the mining industry; some Australian workers with skills in demand have left old positions and industries for the more lucrative opportunities in the mining industry, thousands of foreign labourers have also been brought in to augment the growing workforce.

The movement of workers already in Australia, combined with the growing infrastructure around the mining centres - particularly Western Australia - caused labour needs in other industries such as hospitality and tourism.

With the mining industry beginning to stabilise and periods of rapid growth seemingly behind the industry, what does that mean for Australian workers and those wanting to move to Australia?

The mining industry may have proved to sustain Australia during tough economic times but even at its peak, its contribution to Australia's total economic output was still dwarfed by the services sector.

The services sector, centred on the opposite side of the country from the mining industry, contributes 70% of Australia's total GDP and Australia is still in need of workers in plenty of industries.

Leonie Cotton, casework manager at the Australian Visa Bureau, says the impact of the mining boom was so sensationalised that other industries were neglected despite also being in need of workers.

"As so many of the mining projects are in remote locations, the salaries needed to draw in workers were much higher than average and, as the industry was booming, the companies could afford to pay them," said Ms Cotton.

"It's understandable that offers of high wages will always grab the headlines and skilled workers will still be needed on the continuing mining projects, of which there are many even if investment in new projects is beginning to slow.

"However, Australia is still in need of skilled workers in plenty of other industries including IT, medicine, engineering and teaching.

"The mining boom may be beginning to slow but opportunities to move to Australia most certainly aren't."


- 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.