Labor and 457 Visa’s (The Guardian)

Bill Shorten vows Labor will crack down on 457 visa program

Labor leader stresses focus on jobs for Australians as he promises not to neglect blue-collar workers and suffer fate of US Democrats

Bill Shorten
Bill Shorten tours the One Steel factory in Adelaide in September. The Labor leader has responded to the defeat of the Democrats in the US election by talking up Labor’s plans to find jobs for Australians. Photograph: David Mariuz/AAP

The Labor leader said his party would introduce more rigorous requirements for labour market testing to ensure business owners looked harder for Australians to fill vacant positions before trying to hire workers from overseas.

“The government’s first priority must be ensuring workers in Australia can find good local jobs and ensuring businesses are training and employing local workers,” Shorten said.

“Labor will also make sure businesses using significant numbers of temporary workers have a plan for training local workers.”

Shorten said over the weekend he did not want the Labor party losing support from its blue collar worker base in the same way the Democrats in the United States had done in the recent election.

He flagged a crackdown on the 457 visa program, saying he was concerned it was being exploited.

Shorten’s tougher rules for the 457 program include:

  • A mandatory requirement for all jobs to be advertised as part of labour market testing obligations
  • A requirement that jobs be advertised for a minimum of four weeks
  • A requirement for labour market testing to have been conducted no more than four months before the nomination of a 457 visa worker
  • A ban on job advertisements that target only overseas workers or specified visa class workers to the exclusion of Australian citizens and permanent residents
  • A crackdown on job ads that set unrealistic and unwarranted skills and experience requirements for vacant positions, with the effect of excluding otherwise suitable Australian applicants

He said business sponsors in specified sectors who had more than a set proportion of their total workforce made up of 457 visa holders should be required to employ guest workers under a labour agreement instead of being a standard business sponsor.

In the first instance, that rule should apply to sponsors in the construction sector that had more than 15% of their workforce made up of 457 visa holders, and those with five or more 457 visa holders, he said.

 Labor also wanted to review the process for developing and maintaining the list of skills shortages that allow 457 visas to be granted, he said.

On Sunday, Shorten said the loss of local jobs and inequality needed to be challenged.

He questioned whether the immigration system and guest worker schemes had led to foreign workers being exploited and locals missing out on jobs.

“What’s happening is we’ve got people coming to work in Australia, nearly 1 million people [or more] with temporary work rights and, in some cases, they’re getting ripped off and exploited, lowering wage outcomes and taking the jobs of nurses, motor mechanics, carpenters, auto-electricians,” he said on Sunday.

On Tuesday, Shorten said a Labor government would also like to strengthen the enforcement of licensing requirements and the skills assessment of 457 visa workers in occupations where it was mandatory to hold a licence, registration or membership.

New Parent Visa

Immigrants’ elderly parents required to get private health insurance under new visa terms

Posted yesterday at 2:49pm

The aged parents of immigrants in Australia will have to get private health insurance and financial backing from their children before being able to access a new temporary visa being introduced by the Government.

Key points:

  • Temporary sponsored parent visa to be in place by July 2017
  • New requirements aim to protect health system from extra costs
  • Program available to parents of Australian citizens, permanent residents and eligible NZ citizens

Assistant Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said the new temporary sponsored parent visa, which allows people to visit family in Australia for five years at a time, will be in place by July 2017.

Mr Hawke told reporters in Sydney the Government wanted the new visa program to be more affordable than current arrangements without burdening the taxpayer.

“If we are to have more aged parents who have come from overseas here with us visiting or staying, we have to ensure that our already overburdened health system is protected from extra cost,” he said.

“It’s a key issue.”

The announcement follows a report issued by the Productivity Commission, which recommended the introduction of a temporary visa for parents, which would allow them to stay for a longer period of time as long as the sponsoring child met the necessary health and income costs during their stay.

The report stated the “cumulated lifetime fiscal costs” of a parent visa holder under the current system was estimated to be between $335,000 and $410,000 per adult in 2015-16.

“On this basis, the net liability to the Australian community of providing assistance to these 8,700 parents over their lifetime ranges between $2.6 and $3.2 billion in present value terms,” it stated.

“Given that there is a new inflow each year, the accumulated taxpayer liabilities become very large over time. This is a high cost for a relatively small group.”

Visa category may take 30 years to process

A discussion paper issued by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection outlined the two categories of parent visas already available, one of which may take “approximately 30 years” to process.

The other stream is generally finalised within two years.

“The number of permanent visa places for parents made available in the Migration Programme is small and waiting times can be lengthy,” the paper states.

“The Government’s intention is that any new temporary parent visa arrangement should help offset these issues, while allowing Australia to benefit socially through having united families and cohesive communities.

“At the same time, the financial cost of offering a new temporary visa for parents should not become a burden to the Australian community.”

Mr Hawke said the visa program would be available to parents of Australian citizens, permanent residents and “eligible New Zealand citizens”.

New Skilled Occupation List 2016: SOL

New Skilled Occupation List from 1 July 2016

On 1 July 2016, a new Skilled Occupation List (SOL) will commence with a small number of changes to the occupations compared to the previous list. The SOL identifies occupations that would benefit from skilled migration in order to meet the medium to long-term skill needs of the Australian economy.

The SOL review

The SOL is reviewed annually to ensure it remains responsive to the needs of the Australian labour market. This year the Department of Education and Training was responsible for the review, considering Australia’s current, emerging and future workforce skills and development needs. For more information see Review of the Skilled Occupations List (SOL).

Flagged occupations

As part of the annual SOL review, there are a number of occupations which are ‘flagged’ for possible removal in the future. Generally, occupations are flagged when there is emerging evidence of excess supply in the labour market. For the 2016–17 SOL, 51 occupations have been flagged. For more information see Flagged Occupations on the SOL for 2016–17.

If your occupation has been removed from the 2016–17 SOL

Requirements for permanent skilled migration will change from time to time and there is no particular course of study that will guarantee a permanent visa. If you are a student in Australia, you are encouraged not to make educational choices solely on the basis of hoping to achieve a particular migration outcome because the skilled migration programme will continue to change and adapt to Australia’s economic needs.

Consolidated Sponsored Occupations List (CSOL)

The review of the SOL has not impacted the composition of the Consolidated Sponsored Occupations List (CSOL). Occupations currently listed on the CSOL will continue to be listed from 1 July 2016. For more information see Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL).

Interested in applying for a visa?

If you are interested in applying for an Independent Skilled visa (subclass 189), a Family Sponsored Points Tested visa (subclass 489) or a Temporary Graduate (Graduate Work stream) visa (subclass 485) on or after 1 July, then you need to make sure your occupation is listed on the new SOL. For more information on the occupations being added or removed for 2016–17, see SOL.

There may also be other visa options available to you. You can find more information on visa options by visiting Visa Finder .

Paying for Visas!!

Introduction of payment for visa legislation

Payment for visas pic

 

 

 

 

 

On 14 December 2015 new legislation was introduced addressing payment for visas activity through criminal, civil and administrative sanctions, and visa cancellation powers. Asking for, receiving, offering or providing a benefit in return for visa sponsorship or related employment is now illegal.

The payment for visas legislation applies to a range of temporary sponsored and permanent skilled employer nominated visas. It is unacceptable for sponsors, nominators, employers or third parties to make a personal gain through a payment for visa arrangement.

New criminal penalties of up to two years imprisonment and/or penalties of up to $324,000 for each instance apply to people requesting or receiving a benefit in return for a sponsorship event. Civil penalties of up to $216,000 may apply for people found to have offered or provided a benefit in return for a sponsorship event occurring. In addition to these penalties, if the people involved in this conduct hold a visa, either temporary or permanent, this may also be subject to cancellation. If visa applicants are involved, their applications can be refused.

Payment for visas undermines the integrity of skilled work programmes, which address genuine skill shortages in the Australia labour market by making employees available from overseas.

For more information about what constitutes payment for visas behaviour including the list of temporary sponsored and permanent skilled employer nominated visas affected, go to: www.border.gov.au/Trav/Work/Work-1.

If you have been a victim of, or are aware of payment for visas conduct, please report it to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection: http://www.border.gov.au/about/contact/report-suspicious-activities-behaviour.

Working Holiday Visa: Changes

The Working Holiday Maker visa programme

Australia’s Working Holiday Maker visa programme is a great way for young people aged 18-30 to have an extended holiday in Australia and earn money through short-term employment. There are two types of Working Holiday Maker visas: Working Holiday visa (subclass 417) and Work and Holiday visa (subclass 462). The visa you should apply for depends on your country of citizenship. These types of visas allow you to stay and work in Australia for up to 12 months.

Generally, you can only ever get a Working Holiday Maker visa once – it’s a once in a lifetime experience! The second Working Holiday (Subclass 417) visa initiative is the exception – if you do 88 days specified work in regional Australia, you are eligible to apply for a second visa. You can read all the details about what ‘regional Australia’ is and what ‘specified work’ is on the visa applicants tab of the Working Holiday visa page.

The second Working Holiday visa initiative helps encourage Working Holiday visa holders to get out of the big cities and spend some time working in other parts of Australia.  It also helps businesses that are making an important contribution to the Australian economy to have the workers they need to run their business, particularly in seasonal peaks.

So what’s changing?

The second Working Holiday visa initiative has proven popular with businesses and visa holders over the years, but unfortunately some people haven’t been doing the right thing.  Some visa holders are claiming for work that was never done, and some employers aren’t paying their employees a lawful wage for their work.

That’s why if you’re doing specified work after 31 August, you’ll need to make sure you have pay slips that cover each day of work when you submit your application for a second Working Holiday visa.  Electronic copies of applicants pay slips can be uploaded as attachments to your online second Working Holiday visa application, or hardcopies can be provided with a paper application.

What if I’m not given pay slips from my employer?

Don’t be afraid to ask your employer for pay slips – it’s your legal right, and they have to contain certain information. For more information about pay slips, go to: http://www.fairwork.gov.au/pay/pay-slips-and-record-keeping/pay-slips

How do I know if I’ve been paid the right amount?

In some cases, your pay rate will be set by the national minimum wage, which is currently $17.29 per hour (before tax).  You may be entitled to a higher rate if you are covered by an award, enterprise agreement or other registered agreement. For more information about pay, and to use the ‘Pay Calculator’, go to: http://calculate.fairwork.gov.au/findyouraward

What about volunteer work?

We know that some groups, like Willing Workers on Organic Farms, promote themselves to Working Holiday visa holders.

If you’d like to volunteer some of your time to help out doing activities that count as specified work, you can, but you won’t be able to count it towards your 88 days specified work if you start the volunteer work after 31 August 2015.

If you started the volunteer work before 31 August, you will be able to count all days worked on the placement, even if you finish up after 31 August.

If you finished volunteer work before 31 August that counts as specified work, you can include these days towards your 88 days specified work if you apply for a second Working Holiday visa.

IELTS Testing anomalies!

It is my opinion that there is a definite anomaly in the English testing for the Expression of Interest (EOI) General Skilled Migration Visa. I ask the question why is it required at all for people from the recognized English speaking countries. New Zealand, U.K. ,Ireland, USA and Canada. Especially as they are not required to complete one for the 457 Visa or indeed the 186/187 Visa.

I Understand if English is not your first language then of course you should have to complete an English test if you want to immigrate to Australia, but if you have been born and raised and completed your education in one of the recognized “English Speaking” countries you should not be required to do an English test at all.

Applicants have to reach a minimum of 60 points to be able to apply for an Expression of Interest ( EOI ) through Skills Select but don’t get any points for their language if they come from one of the English speaking countries. I believe this is fundamentally wrong and they should be awarded 10 points automatically if they come from one of these countries and if they want to achieve higher points then they complete an (IELTS) English Test.

It makes sense to me! Maybe that’s the problem!

 

MRT caseload surge and delays, in the making

 

The review of student visa refusals takes up most of the MRTs time and has reportedly been the source of caseload backlogs in the recent past. The reported surge in student visa applications must surely now be a source of concern.

The MRT is established under the Migration Act 1958 (the Act) to review DIBP decisions and make the correct or preferable decision. The MRT is required to be ‘fair, just, economical, informal and quick’ (ss. 353(1).

Recent statistics from the Migration Review Tribunal (MRT) indicate that the MRT is generally taking less time for a decision as it edges closer to the time standards it has set for decisions. For refusals review, the MRT decided matters within 398 days on average, which is just under 2 months from the target time standard. Cancellation reviews however took twice the time standard of 150 days.

Student Visa refusals remain the largest part of the MRT caseload followed by partner visa refusals.

As at 31 December 2013, some 15,888 cases were on hand at the MRT, representing about a 10 percent fall over a 6-month period although the caseloads remain large.

The largest case types on hand were:

• Student visa refusals – 3,465 cases (22 percent of load)

• Partner visa refusals – 2,818 cases (18 percent of load)

The MRTs increased caseloads in recent years resulted in an increasing backlog and increasing delays according to a Report by Prof Mi. Lavarch who undertook a review of the MRT and RRT caseloads in 2012.

“The increasing delays result in uncertainty and distress for genuine applicants and provide an incentive for others to misuse the review process to extend their stay in Australia,” noted the report.

Whilst MRT has been making more decisions over recent years, however the rate of increase in lodgements still exceeds the MRT’s rate of increase in deciding cases.

With the recent surge in student visa applications, it can no doubt be expected that caseloads may again surge.

Too many cooks granted PR!!

Too many cooks granted PR

A spike in the permanent residence grants for cooks and hairdressers has had the media reporting that skilled migration policy has lost its way.

Cooks have topped the skilled migration list. Over 8000 cooks got permanent visas in 2012-13, followed by 5700 accountants, 2160 software engineers, 1550 IT business analysts and 1500 hairdressers, reports the Herald Sun.

The Herald Sun report also noted that skilled migration is dominated by Indians and Chinese, who comprised about half of the 129,000 places approved last year.

It is suggested that the students, who were caught out by changes to the skilled migration rules, have been ‘unwisely told’ that they could continue to apply for residency.

In an interview with the Herald Sun, Monash University migration researcher Dr Bob Birrel claimed that the number of highly skilled applicants wishing to enter the country is now falling, causing immigration officials to fill their quotas with ‘warehoused applicants’.

“Now that demand for migration is tapering off a bit they are obliged to deal with these applicants…They are filling up their quota with these warehoused applicants, that’s why we’re getting so many cooks.”

“The program has a life of its own and it’s continuing at very high levels notwithstanding the sharp downturn in the need for skilled migrants,” he said.

According to the department’s 2012-13 Migration Program Report, the skilled migration system focused on migrants to help fill critical skill needs, particularly in regional areas.This included almost 50,000 places nominated by employers and state or territory governments, and 44,000 in the skilled independent category. There were more than 114,000 applicants waiting to be processed for skilled migration as of June 30 last year.

Dept of Immigration scrutinizing Partner Visa’s:

DIBP is acting quickly to cancel dubious partner visas with already over 1000 partner visas cancelled, including permanent visas, over the last 3 years.

It has been estimated that over 30 per cent of marriages in Australia involve migrant spouses. And the numbers are increasing as visa regulations in other classes get stricter. This has led to greater scrutiny of both applicants and visa holders by DIBP.

Monash University migration lecturer, Dr Bob Birrell has reportedly said that the huge backlog of cases was putting enormous pressure on migration officials.

“They are literally swamped with the client load, it’s very difficult to seriously evaluate whether the relationship is genuine and continuing,” he said in an interview with the Herald Sun.

Over the last three years, DIBP’s increased vigilance on partner visa holders and applicants have led to high-level of refusals and cancellations. Over 1000 permanent and temporary partner visas have been cancelled on grounds of  bogus claims, bad character and incorrect information.

According to the Herald Sun report the number of partner visas issued annually has doubled since the early 1990s, with some 50,000 processed in 2012-13. A further 58,000 applications were in the pipeline as of June 30 last year.

Almost 12,000 spouse and partner visas were issued for Victoria last year, including more than 2000 to Indian-born people, 1245 for Chinese and about 1000 for UK-born applicants.

More than 100 visas were cancelled in the six months to December 31, 2013, 228 were cancelled in 2012-13 and 713 between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2012.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has been reported saying that the figures showed the Abbott Government had to be vigilant to stop people abusing the program.