‘Migrants to the bush’ exposed as regional visas hit decade low

‘Migrants to the bush’ exposed as regional visas hit decade low

The Morrison Government’s ‘migrants to the bush’ smokescreen has been comprehensively exposed with regional migration approvals hitting a decade low.

Regional visa approvals have fallen to their lowest levels in a decade as the Federal Government prepares to introduce a scheme requiring new arrivals to work outside the major cities for five years…

State-specific and regional visa approvals fell to 36,250 places in 2017-18, according to new figures published by the Government.

John Hourigan, the president of the Migration Institute of Australia, said recent restrictions have effectively phased out key parts of the existing regional scheme.

Visas approved for the regional sponsored migration scheme have fallen from 20,510 five years ago to 6,221 last year…

Mr Hourigan, who spent two decades in the Immigration Department, said adjustments to the points system used to approve visas had been a “game changer” for migration levels.

“That now means that basically everyone has to have proficient English — there are not many ways former overseas students can get to 65 points otherwise,” he said.

A Home Affairs Department spokesperson said the changes had resulted in fewer, but higher quality, visa applications.

“The Department of Home Affairs has recently introduced significant reforms to strengthen the quality of skilled visa applications, including the regional sponsored migration scheme,” the spokesperson said.

“These include enhanced legislation on labour market testing, lowering of the qualifying age, enhanced qualifications and experience.”

This is no bad thing. State-based migration programs have been systemically rorted, with migrants temporarily settling in places like the ACT and Tasmania purely to get the required number of points for permanent residency before moving to Sydney and Melbourne.

Moreover, we are continually told that migrants come to the big cities because that’s where the jobs are and in order to relieve so-called ‘skills shortages’ (a lie in itself). So where is the logic in sending them to regions where there are no jobs? Doesn’t this defeat the whole purpose of having so-called ‘skilled’ migration?

That said, these figures do show the lunacy of the Morrison Government’s ‘migrants to the bush’ policy, which Scott Morrison himself slammed when the former Gillard Government proposed such a scheme in 2010-11.

Instead, the immigration program has become more centralised that ever, with 94% of migrants last financial year settling in the cities, and 86% settling in just Sydney and Melbourne alone.

We don’t need more policy gimmicks. The immigration intake needs to be normalised back to historical levels

No takers for thousands of Australian permanent residency visas

No takers for thousands of Australian permanent residency visas

While thousands struggle to meet the requirements for Australian permanent residency, some in-demand trade occupations are seeing very low, or even no applications at all.

Australia is among the most sought-after immigration destinations across the world with tens of thousands of people trying their luck to migrate down under every year as skilled migrants. While many skills are experiencing long queues of visa applicants, there are some that have found absolutely no takers at all.

Of the 190,000 permanent visas that Australia plans to issue every year, nearly 70 per cent is reserved for skilled migrants.

Under the skilled stream migration, prospective migrants are required to nominate an occupation from the relevant occupation list depending upon the kind of visa they apply for. For the skilled independent visa (subclass 189) – a permanent visa allowing indefinite stay and giving the freedom to live and work anywhere in Australia – all applicants file an expression of interest; and based on their points test score, the Department of Home Affairs then issues them an invite to apply for a visa.

This permanent visa has nearly 44,000 places reserved in Australia’s annual immigration planning.

Some occupations such as accountants and IT professionals are so popular that due to a high volume of applications, the Department has introduced pro-rata arrangements, whereas, in some other occupations, no invites were issued during the last financial year.
Out of the total 73 occupations that are subject to a ceiling, at least six were such that did not have a single invite issued in 2017-18.

Wall and floor tilers, automotive electricians, electrical distribution trade workers, boat builders and shipwrights, precision metal trade workers and livestock farmers together account for 9,603 visa places.

Sheet metal trade workers, cabinet makers, glaziers, panel beaters and barristers and some health diagnostic and promotion professionals – together accounting for over 5,300 visa places – saw just one applicant receiving an invite for each of the six occupations.

Most visa applicants with trades occupations prefer to take other routes to Australian permanent residency.

In order for subclass 189 visa applicants to succeed, they require relatively higher levels of English proficiency, work experience and educational qualifications. In most cases, applicants with these occupations would prefer a sponsored visa that would get them additional points to meet the minimum requirements.

A majority of the migrants are from India – a country that’s currently the biggest source of permanent migrants and Australian citizens.

While it can be an express route to permanent residency for applicants with the necessary skills, experience and English proficiency, some occupations are more popular than others among Indian migrants.

The choice of occupations depends on the ease of doing the course and then the ability of the students to find an employer because most of them would look to gain post-study work experience and then employer sponsorships to make up for any gap in the points requirement.

457 visa repeal leaves talent gap in advertising

457 visa repeal leaves talent gap in advertising

Top recruiters believe the 457 visa repeal is contributing to a bigger talent gap in the advertising industry, but is it time the industry stopped complaining and focused on training local execs?

Speaking at the AdNews Lessons in Leadership event, the panel shared their frustrations with recruiting from overseas following the overhaul of the 457 visa that moved a number of advertising specific roles to the list of occupations only eligible for the short term visa, which does not offer a route to permanent residency.

Iknowho consultant Sheryn Small agencies are shying away from sponsoring people as it’s become more expensive and a more difficult process, which in turn has made it harder for recruiters to find talent.

“Fortunately or unfortunately, a lot of the talent pool, particularly in the advertising industry, comes from abroad,” Small said.

“It’s having an impact on our ability to find people in the market and to also employ people with international experience, which used to be really attractive for a lot of agencies. It’s a lot tougher to do.”

Small was speaking on the panel alongside Publicis Communications talent acquisition director Courtney Robinson, Scout managing director Patrick Flaherty, Hourigan International leadership consultant Simon Hadfield and Commtract CEO Luke Achterstraat.

Robinson said research from Publicis found that Australia loses 15% of its talent to overseas opportunities and there are no international candidates to plug those holes following the 457 changes.

“We’re losing a lot of people and not able to get them back,” she said.

Flaherty argued that the talent shortage and skills gap is nothing new, particularly for media agencies struggling to fill complex data and technology roles, so it’s time the industry accepted the 457 changes as a reality and focused now on training.

“There’s a lot of negativity around the changes but we need to embrace it. We’re constantly trying to educate our company’s leaders and look at upskilling and development of their staff. That’s crucial right now because talent pools are rapidly shrinking,” he said.

“The pools are shrinking by the second, which is an alarming rate, but we have to do something about that and the clear way of doing that is through training, upskilling and trying to promote people back into the industry.”


Indian national accused of masterminding marriage-for-permanent residency scam

Indian national accused of masterminding marriage-for-permanent residency scam

The Department of Home Affairs has refused the partner visa applications of 164 foreign nationals who were allegedly found to be linked with the scam.

An Indian national has faced court over allegations of masterminding a marriage visa scam that targeted South Asian communities, involving over 150 partner visa applicants who were willing to pay large sums of money to remain in Australia.

Thirty-two-year-old Jagjit Singh is accused of being the main facilitator of the scam and has been charged with arranging four fake marriages for obtaining permanent residency.

However, the Australian Border Force says a total of 164 partner visa applications have been refused after they were found to be linked with Singh’s syndicate.

Four others also appeared in court for allegedly convincing Australian citizens to marry the prospective partner visa applicants willing to pay money for permanent residency. They were charged under the Migration Act and Criminal code.

According to Australian Border Force Commander Clinton Sims, vulnerable Australian women were lured in the scam with the promise of money.

“Many of the women involved in these scams have suffered a history of substance abuse, family violence and financial hardship, and are lured in with promises of substantial payments,” Commander Sims said.

The ABF alleged that the syndicate particularly targeted non-citizens in the South Asian community. The charge Mr Singh faces carries a maximum penalty of up to $210,000 and/or 10 years imprisonment.

But outside the Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney, Mr Singh defended himself.

“I don’t know the guy who was arranging these things, I am just sometimes helping them,” quoted him as saying.

The matter was adjourned until 8th January 2019.

Commander Sims said these types of scams generally target young women, mostly from disadvantaged and low socio-economic backgrounds as the foreign nationals desperate to stay in Australia generally pay a significant sum of money for such arrangements.

“Those seeking a visa through a contrived marriage also need to understand that paying a facilitator will not buy them a permanent visa pathway in Australia. There is rarely any financial recourse in the event that their Partner visa application is unsuccessful.”

“Protecting the integrity of the visa system is an operational priority for the ABF and anyone found to be involved in, or facilitating sham marriages should expect to be investigated and face criminal prosecution. Registered agents and marriage celebrants also face losing their registration.”

In February last year, a Queensland couple was jailed over a similar visa-marriage scam after being found guilty of organising 16 sham marriages, mostly involving Indian men desperate to stay in Australia.

However, earlier this year, the couple won an appeal against their conviction and a retrial in just one case of alleged fake marriage was ordered.

PM declares intent to slash immigration numbers

PM declares intent to slash immigration numbers

Scott Morrison said Australia should only accept as much people as “our infrastructure can support”.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has flagged a cut to immigration, declaring Sydney and Melbourne at capacity and he is ready to agree to state calls for curbs to new Australians.

But Mr Morrison predicted regional centres, including Rockhampton in Queensland, Tasmania and Adelaide, want more migrants and have the capacity to accept more new arrivals.

The Prime Minister’s confirmation he wants to slash immigration to Australia’s largest capital cities follows NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s call to halve the migration intake on the grounds that “rates have gone through the roof”.

Broadcaster Alan Jones pressed the Mr Morrison on immigration levels during his Radio 2GB program Wednesday, warning that it was a “big issue” for voters.

Mr Jones asserted that Australia had the highest per capita immigration intake in the world.

“What our immigration policy should be is the sum of the number that our infrastructure can support,” Mr Morrison replied.

“Instead of doing a top down approach, what I am doing with the states and territories now is saying, ‘you tell me. You tell me how many people you can accommodate … around your state’.” he said.

“Our immigration numbers will be based on how many people those states can support.”

Mr Jones interjected that people will say that means an immigration cut.

“Well, we will do the sums and in Sydney and Melbourne I think that’s true,” Mr Morrison said.

“But they say they can take an extra 10,000 people here in Rockhampton. In Adelaide they want more people and more jobs. In Tasmania they are increasing their population and they want more,” he said.

Earlier this year Ms Berejiklian established an expert panel to build the case for a lower immigration policy to take to the Federal Government next year.

The Prime Minister and Mr Jones also clashed over climate change policy and the Paris agreement during the interview.

“You don’t need Paris. Rip it up!”,” Mr Jones said.

Mr Morrison replied that Pairs was “important to our Pacific neighbours”.

“Why? Because global warming is going to wash away islands in the Pacific? That’s crap,” Mr Jones answered.

Mr Morrison said Mr Jones was “entitled to that view” and the region was also entitled to its view.

“Do you think that Bondi Beach is going to end up in Bathurst?,” Mr Jones asked, in reference to warning of rising sea levels.

“No, I don’t think that at all,” Mr Morrison said.