‘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.

The Department of Home Affairs has released its 2017-18 Annual Report.

The Department of Home Affairs has released its 2017-18 Annual Report.
The report contains an extensive amount of material across the six departments and authorities that make up the Department of Home Affairs. Interesting highlights include:
Visas
Permanent visa outcomes
 12% decrease overall in the number of permanent migration program numbers in the last financial year
 10.5.5% drop in skilled stream visas granted since July 2016
 17% drop in family stream visas granted since July 2016

Temporary visas granted
 An increase of 5.5% in visitor visas granted
 10% increase in student visa granted
 30.5% drop in temporary work skilled (SC 457) visas granted

Citizenship
 A 52% drop in the number of Australian citizenship conferrals

Compliance
 99% of temporary entrants maintained their lawful immigration status
 Visa cancellation number relatively stable at 57,440
 Non-humanitarian visa refusals increased by 26%

Click on the below link for more information:

https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/about/reports-publications/reports/annual/annual-report-2017-18

Thousands more foreign thugs and sex offenders to be kicked out of Australia under new visa crackdown

Thousands more foreign thugs and sex offenders to be kicked out of Australia under new visa crackdown

-More foreign-born sex offenders and thugs will be deported under new laws
-The law means that anyone who commits a crime can have their visa canceled
-Currently, the most common trigger for cancellation is 12 months jail time
-The new law will now apply to those who are sentenced to less than 12 months

Thousands of foreign thugs and sex offenders are set to be kicked out of Australia under tougher new visa-cancelling and deportation laws.

The new legislation, which could be introduced by the Morrison Government as early as this week, will apply to more criminals than the previous law.

Currently, non-citizens can have their visas cancelled if they’re found guilty of a serious crime and jailed for 12 months or more, but the new law will change that.

Under the new law, anyone found guilty of an offence for which they can be jailed for two years or more – even if they escape a jail term – can have their visa cancelled.

This tougher new visa-scrapping legislation also applies to anyone – including children – who has been found guilty of a crime and jailed for less than 12 months.

Former Victoria Police officer and now chairman of the Federal Joint Standing Committee on Migration, Jason Wood told the Herald Sun the change is necessary.

The committee chairman previously worked closely with Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton in the months before he finished up as Immigration Minister.

He said far too many thugs and offenders of gang-related crimes were evading jail time and visa cancellation due to the current 12 month minimum sentence law.

Mr Wood said a ‘no age’ restriction clause was also necessary in the revamped legislation because too many of those committing the crimes were aged under 18.

The new law will cover sex offences, domestic violence, breaching an apprehended violence order, car-jackings, home invasions and possession of dangerous weapons.

‘Under the new legislation …the offender’s visa being able to be cancelled by the immigration minister, or a delegate for the minister from the Immigration Department — whether or not they get sentenced to jail,’ he said.

Mr Wood believes if a migrant is found guilty of a serious crime ‘most Australians would want that person sent back to where they came from’.

He said cancelling someone’s visa shouldn’t be determined on their age or whether they are jailed for a minimum 12-month period or more.

‘It’s about protecting Australians from violent and sexual offenders who aren’t Australians,’ he said.

The committee chairman said despite Labor denying there is a gang issue in Victoria, the law was motivated by the disproportionate level of foreign born gang crimes.

Information provided by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission revealed only six of the 60 Apex gang members in Victoria were born in Australia, he said.

Mr Wood said the new legislation will not ‘discriminate between thugs’, but rather send a powerful message that violence and crime will not be tolerated.

Sudanese-born Isaac Gatkuoth, who was found guilty of car-jacking at gunpoint, has already had his visa revoked – but the tougher law will target more crooks.

Another offender to have his visa cancelled was Iranian refugee Behzad Bashiri.

Bashiri was eventually deported after he threatened to commit terrorist offences after a judge gave him a light sentence for threatening to burn down a building.

Mr Wood said the new legislation would prevent judges and magistrates from giving lenient sentences that prevent offenders from having their visa’s cancelled.

He said those who are found guilty under the new law wouldn’t automatically be deported and could still appeal the decision.

‘We need to send a powerful message to the people that we allow into Australia that being here is a privilege and that privilege can and will be removed if they commit serious offences here,’ he said.

‘Plan for a plan’ panned as McGowan pitches WA to foreign students

‘Plan for a plan’ panned as McGowan pitches WA to foreign students

The WA government will spend $2 million on a new international education strategy and expand its graduate migration scheme in an attempt to turn around a collapse in the numbers of foreign students coming to the state.

Premier Mark McGowan said the government would focus on marketing WA as an “international education destination” while adding dozens of jobs to the skilled migration list to allow more foreign students with degrees to stay in WA.

But Opposition Leader Mike Nahan said the 32-page strategy lacked the funding and vision to increase the state’s share of the lucrative international student market and labelled the document a “$2 million plan for a plan”.

In August the government came under fire when the federal Department of Education revealed there were 8.2 per cent fewer overseas students commencing studies this year in WA, the only state to record a decline.

“Our new strategy sends a message to the world we are open for business as a world-class international education destination,” Mr McGowan said.

“We welcome international students, their families and friends.
“Government and industry are now working together on a range of actions — guided by the strategy — to put Perth on the map as an education destination.”

Dr Nahan said the strategy lacked detail and had no specific policy commitments that would translate into more students.

“Committing $2 million over five years is insufficient from the McGowan government, particularly when there is a significant return on investment for every student that comes to WA to study,” he said.

“The McGowan government is putting as much money into attracting international students as they are towards a 25-metre indoor pool and clubrooms in the marginal seat of Collie.

“That shows the regard the McGowan government has for attracting international students and the value they bring to the economy.”
Graduates must study in WA for two years to be eligible for the migration scheme, which contains some jobs available only to students qualifying with master’s and doctorate degrees.

But Education Minister Sue Ellery said the strategy would boost numbers.

“Perth offers the truly authentic Australian education experience, and I am confident the state’s investment in international education and the new International Education Strategy will provide a foundation for significant growth in the future,” she said.

The 2018 graduate migration occupation list includes spots for foreign graduates in professions such as teaching, medicine and law, but also less common jobs such as “Caravan Park and Camping Ground Manager” and “Dance Teacher”.

After coming to government in 2017, Mr McGowan reduced the number of occupations on the migration list from 178 to 18, according to the opposition.

Opposition tourism spokeswoman Libby Mettam the government was sending a message to international students to bypass Perth.

“The McGowan Government’s decision to drastically reduce the WA skilled migration list has cost the WA economy hundreds of millions of dollars in lost student enrolments and associated tourist visits,” she said.

“Every other state has been capitalising on the $20 billion international student industry, while the McGowan Government has spent the past 18 months undermining it in WA.”

Visa rejected after man told his wife is his sister

Visa rejected after man told his wife is his sister

All Daniel Tadese wants is to be with his wife and child.

But as his son Natnael prepares to mark his fourth birthday next week, there is no end in sight to the bureaucratic nightmare that has torn the family apart.

Mr Tadese, 48, is an Australian citizen of Ethiopian descent who has been living in Melbourne since 2007.

Immigration officials accept that the West Footscray man is the father of Natnael and have accordingly granted the child citizenship by descent.

Yet they have refused to grant Mr Tadese’s wife, Genet Abebe, a partner visa, solely on the basis of DNA testing undertaken in 2012.

The testing suggested the statistical likelihood of the couple being biological half-siblings, compared to unrelated individuals, is 66 to 1.

While Ms Abebe was pregnant with Natnael in 2014 the then Department of Immigration struck out her visa application, arguing the DNA results constitute ‘moderately strong’ evidence that the pair share the same mother.

Speaking through an interpreter, Mr Tadese maintains that this is impossible as their families live in different parts of Ethiopia and had never met before their marriage.

“I was really shocked, there is no relation whatsoever. We met through her aunty who lives in Melbourne, who I met through the church,” he said.

“We started talking over the phone for a few months, then I went back to Ethiopia and we met personally and really liked each other.

“So we had the wedding there and I came back here and started the process for her visa.”

Mr Tadese said more than 200 guests attended the wedding ceremony in Addis Ababa in 2012 and that the marriage is accepted under Ethiopian law.

He points out that the Ethiopian Orthodox church, which performed the marriage, does not allow half-siblings to marry.

DNA testing is not a standard requirement of partner visa applications, yet may be requested if the applicant and sponsor are suspected of being siblings.

The 2012 tests were carried out by a company called Genetic Technologies, which has since been taken over by Genomic Diagnostics.

Genomic Diagnostics business manager Brett Kennedy said the company cannot comment on testing by a company that was not part of its group at the time.

Mr Tadese said that he had so far racked up more than $20,000 in legal fees challenging the Department’s decision.

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal last year affirmed the visa refusal, prompting Mr Tadese to make a final appeal to the Federal Circuit Court, where he has been waiting for more than a year for a hearing date.

He said because DNA testing can’t provide a higher degree of certainty, the court should consider a wider range of supporting evidence.

That view is backed by Monash University senior lecturer Dr Maria O’Sullivan, who said she was unaware of any of precedent cases in Australia.

“I think the authorities should be looking at matters other than just DNA, as there is a slight chance that the test is incorrect.”

The saga has now stretched on for more than six years, taking a heavy toll on Mr Tadese’s finances and mental health.

The Uber driver has been diagnosed with depression and said his phone conversations with his wife and son inevitably end in tears.

“I haven’t seen them for more than a year, I’m worried about my son growing up without really knowing me,” Mr Tadese said.

“Every single time I call he asks ‘when are we coming?’. It’s so heartbreaking to hear that.

“I’m on my own, I feel lost and I just don’t know what to do.”

A spokesperson from the Department of Home Affairs said the department did not comment on individual cases for privacy reasons.

The spokesperson said although foreign marriages recognised under local civil law would generally be recognised in Australia, a visa applicant and sponsor being siblings would void the marriage in Australia under the Marriage Act.

“An application for a partner visa cannot be approved on spouse grounds if the Department is not satisfied the relationship is valid under the Marriage Act.”

 

 

Minister defends benefits of immigration ahead of planned changes to skilled intake

Minister defends benefits of immigration ahead of planned changes to skilled intake

The Morrison government is flagging a change to skilled migration to maximise the gains for employers and the economy, as it claims a long-term boost worth $9.7 billion from the arrival of new migrants every year.

Immigration Minister David Coleman will make the case for strong migration in a major speech on Friday that signals the government’s reform plan while defending the annual intake against critics who want radical cuts.

The policy speech puts Australians on notice to expect extensive changes to the regional migration program as well as a preference for skilled workers who are sponsored by employers rather than those who seek to arrive on their own.

Mr Coleman will also caution against demands for cuts to more than 500,000 overseas students now studying in Australia, noting the education sector now earns four times as much export revenue as beef.

“Our nation’s history is one of immigration, and we should be proud of it,” Mr Coleman says in a draft of the speech to be made on Friday.

“Every town, every suburb, every sporting club, every church in our nation has immigration success stories. We should celebrate these successes.”

The remarks are a contrast with the calls for lower migration from Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton before the August leadership spill that installed Scott Morrison as Prime Minister and led to a cabinet reshuffle in which Mr Coleman gained key parts of Mr Dutton’s portfolio.

“There is no question that our economy would be weaker, and our living standards lower, if we had not embraced immigration,” Mr Coleman says in the speech to the Migration Institute of Australia.

Australia gains a “net fiscal benefit” worth $9.7 billion over five decades from the migrant intake in just one year, according to a Deloitte Access Economics analysis of the 2014-15 cohort.

“By adding workers, migration offsets the impacts of an aging population and helps enable us to pay for the essential services we all need,” Mr Coleman says.

“Not all elements of the skilled programme are equal. The best results in the programme come from employer-sponsored applicants.

“There is an opportunity to increase the focus here, leading to direct and substantial economic benefits.”

The comments prepare the ground for changes to favour those who are sponsored by employers because they add more to the economy.

As well, Mr Coleman emphasises the advantage of encouraging younger migrants because taxpayers have to cover the cost of those who are closer to retirement age.

“The best economic results generally come from migrants who are skilled and young. Our policies should reflect that fact,” he says.

On foreign students, Mr Coleman notes that education services generated $30 billion in export revenue last year, four times as much as beef and five times as much as wheat.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has warned about the 1.6 million visitors to Australia with work rights, a group that includes students, and Labor employment spokesman Brendan O’Connor has raised the idea of a cap on the program.

Mr Coleman says that over 230,000 international visitors came to Australia to visit an international student last year, spending $994 million.

“Around 56,000 international visitors came to Australia to attend an overseas student graduation in 2014, contributing $208 million to the economy,” he says.

“Students support high skill, high wage jobs in the education sector – a big positive for our economy.”