Possibility of Cook in SOL …

Skill Shortages – Statistical Summary
The following is a summary of the quantifiable results of the Department of Employment’s skill shortage research. These provide a basis for comparison across locations and occupations and gives an historical  perspective to the 2013 results. It is important, though, to also understand the qualitative information gathered from the research. This is provided in Skill Shortages Australia







Student visa Assessment Levels Lowered for subclass 572

From 22 March 2014, the Migration Regulations 1994 (the Regulations) are amended to give effect to recommendations 3 and 4 of the Review of the Student Visa Assessment Level Framework 2013 (AL Framework Review) which recommend that the assessment level framework be simplified to comprise of assessment levels 1, 2 and 3 and that the financial requirements for assessment level 3 applicants be reduced to 12 months evidence of funds provided by a close relative.

In addition, the Regulation will support recommendation 1 of the AL Framework Review by clarifying the criteria that must be satisfied by applicants for the grant of a subclass 573 (Higher Education Sector) visa, a subclass 574 (Postgraduate Research Sector) visa or a subclass 575 (Non–Award Sector) visa under the streamlined visa processing arrangements.  Relevantly, the associated amendments for this clarification will also have the effect of specifying that the streamlined visa processing arrangements are not limited to university education providers.

These amendments are consequent to the joint announcement made in October 2013 by the Hon. Christopher Pyne MP, Minister for Education, and the Hon. Scott Morrison MP, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection.



Rort fears as 457 visa loophole reopened

The Abbott government has quietly reopened a visa loophole that will allow employers to hire an unlimited number of foreign workers under a temporary working visa, in a move that unions say will bring back widespread rorting of the system.

In the Coalition’s bid to remove all ”red tape” from the 457 skilled migrant visa, employers will not be penalised or scrutinised if they hire more foreign staff than they applied for.

Before the loophole was closed in 2013 by the Labor government, companies in the mining, construction and IT industries were knowingly hiring hundreds more foreign workers than they had applied for.


In one example, an employer was granted approval for 100 visas over three years, but in 18 months he had brought in 800 workers under the 457 visa.

Unions say the move, which was introduced on February 14, undermines Australian job security while deliberately reopening a loophole that can easily lead to the exploitation of foreign workers. ”It is reopening a rort for employers,” said Dave Noonan, assistant secretary of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union.

”Even if the department checks, there is no administrative measure they can take.”

The Australian Workers Union argues it will exploit vulnerable workers. ”It’s deeply concerning that in a jobs crisis, the government is sneaking through changes that undermine local jobs and conditions,” said AWU assistant national secretary Scott McDine.

In March last year then prime minister Julia Gillard said the visa scheme was ”out of control”. During an election campaign visit to western Sydney, Ms Gillard said she wanted the 457 visa tightened ”to stop foreign workers being put at the front of the queue with Australian workers at the back”.

A discussion paper in 2012 also found there was no restriction to the number of 457 workers a company could nominate once a sponsorship is approved.

In the same year, mining magnate Gina Rinehart famously warned that Australians needed to work harder to compete with Africans who will work for less than $2 a day. Yet in June, the boss of Ms Rinehart’s Roy Hill iron ore project, Barry Fitzgerald, backed away from using foreign workers on 457 visas, saying he was confident he could find the staff locally.

Before the cap was introduced in 2013, the number of 457 visas was quickly rising. In the financial year 2009/10 there were 67,980 visas granted. By 2012/13 there were 126,350 visas granted, statistics from the Department of Immigration show.

Unions are also known to be hostile to the visa class because it has allowed non-union foreign labour to replace unionised local workers.

A spokesman for the Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Michaelia Cash, said: ”While the Coalition is … committed to deregulation and the removal of unnecessary red tape, we are equally committed to ensuring the integrity of the 457 program.”

The changes come as the Coalition will review the overall function of the 457 visa, which unions argue is a ”stacked” panel.

”These secretive changes come on the back of the government’s announced review, which has been stacked to deliver a predetermined outcome that will hurt Australian workers,” Mr McDine said.

There are four members on the panel: John Azarias, from Deloitte Australia; Professor Peter McDonald, of the Australian National University; Katie Malyon, from Ernst & Young; and Jenny Lambert, from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/rort-fears-as-457-visa-loophole-reopened-20140311-34kgr.html

Posted in 457

Credit card merchant fees to be charged to applicants

From 22 March 2014, the Department is implementing changes to enable the recovery of credit card merchant fees from clients via a surcharge on credit card payments for visa application charges (VACs) and other fees and charges.

The surcharge will be applied to all clients who pay VACs and other fees and charges online and those who opt to pay at a departmental office by credit card. The surcharge will be applied to all onshore and offshore applicants.


In late 2013, the department conducted an evaluation of occupational ceilings to assess how they have operated to date and to consider changes to ensure they are performing their intended function.

Based on feedback received as part of the evaluation, the following changes will be in place from 1 March 2014:

  • State and territory nominated visas will no longer be subject to occupational ceiling limitations
  • The minimum ceiling for each occupational group will be 1000 invitations.

As there are still high levels of interest from prospective skilled migrants in the following six occupations, pro rata arrangements for these occupational groups will continue:

  • Chemical and Materials Engineers
  • Electronics Engineers
  • Other Engineering Professionals
  • ICT Business and Systems Analysts
  • Software and Applications Programmers
  • Telecommunications Engineering Professionals.

Details of the cut-offs for these occupations will continue to be included in the regular invitation round reports.