Budget 2017-18: Immigration Changes

The Commonwealth 2017-18 Budget was handed down last night. Important initiatives affecting visa applicants were announced:

Employers who sponsor employees for temporary and permanent visas to pay a training levy
More details on temporary parent visas to apply from 1 November 2017
Visa application charge increases to apply from 1 July 2017
Training Levy for Employers Sponsoring Staff

From March 2018, employers will pay a training levy which will go towards the Skilling Australians Fund. The Skilling Australians Fund will fund training of Australians in apprenticeship and trainee programs to develop skills of local workers.
This will replace the current training benchmarks for employers using the 457 and ENS programs. This is likely to make it more straightforward for employers to comply with the training obligation, albeit somewhat more expensive.

The amount payable will depend on the size of the business, with those with turnover of at least $10 million will pay more. They payments will apply to both the Temporary Skills Shortages (TSS) visa and permanent employer sponsored visas (ENS and RSMS).

The payment for TSS visa holders will apply on an annual basis per employee. It is not yet clear how the fee will be collected – it could either be paid upfront with the visa application charge or an invoice might be issued at the end of each financial year. It appears that the fee will apply based on each sponsored employee based on the proportion of the year the employee was working for the employer.

For permanent employer sponsored applications, the fee will be a one-off fee and is likely to be collected on application.

The training levies are summarised below:

Small Business Large Business (turnover $10m or more)
TSS $1,200 $1,800
RSMS/ENS $3,000 $5,000
We now also have full details of the fees for the new Temporary Skills Shortages Visa – these are in line with expectations and are summarised below:

Stream Main Applicant Dependent 18 or Over Dependent Under 18
Short-Term Stream (2 year validity) $1,150 $1,150 $290
Medium-Term Stream (4 year validity) $2,400 $2,400 $600
Temporary Sponsored Parent Visas

More information on the new temporary sponsored parent visas was made available.
The new visas will be introduced in November 2017 and will require sponsorship by an Australian permanent resident or citizen child. It is quite possible that the parent would not be required to meet the balance of family test, unlike other parent visas.

The visa will be valid for either 3 years, or 5 years. The application fee for the 3-year option will be $5,000 whilst the 5-year option will cost $10,000. It will be possible to renew the visa, but this will need to be done from outside Australia. A stay of up to 10 years will be allowed in total.

Parents on the new visas will not be eligible for Medicare and the sponsoring child will be liable for any medical expenses, including aged care.

15,000 of the new temporary sponsored parent visas will be available each program year. This is a big increase from the current allocation of 8,675 places for parent visas. Accordingly, we would expect waiting times to be considerably less than contributory parent visas (2 years+) and non-contributory parent visas (30 years+).

The current parent visa categories will remain open to applications. Holders of the new temporary parent visas will not be able to apply onshore for permanent parent visas, but it is possible they might be able to lodge an application offshore. We will need to wait for details of how many places will be available for permanent parent visa categories and this is likely to have a significant impact on waiting times.

It is not yet clear whether the additional 15,000 places will be considered part of the migration program or not. Overall, the migration program will remain at 190,000 places. Interestingly, the Minister for Immigration in his Budget announcement has indicated that this is a ceiling for the program and he may well accept a program outcome lower than this.

Visa Application Charge increases

Visa Application Fees will be increased on an annual basis in line with inflation. This restores the previous practice which applied prior to 2007.
The new fees will apply from 1 July 2017 – for most visa types, the increase is around 2%. Changes for some common visa types are below:

Visa Type Current Fee From 1 July 2017 % Increase
Student $550 $560 1.8%
General Skilled Migration $3,600 $3,670 1.9%
Graduate Temporary Subclass 485 $1,470 $1,500 2.0%
Partner Temporary $6,965 $7,000 0.5%
Parent (Contributory) $3,695 $3,945 6.8%
457 $1,060 $1,080 1.9%
ENS/RSMS $3,600 $3,670 1.9%
Visitor $135 $140 3.7%
Bridging B $140 $145 3.6%
Business Migration $4,780 $4,875 2.0%
Significant Investor Visa (SIV) $7,010 $7,150 2.0%
Applicants for contributory parent visas will be glad to hear that the increase to the application fee is only 6.8% from 1 July – previous indications suggested that fees might be increased significantly.

The fact sheet on fee increases also states that the fee increases do not apply to Second Visa Application Charges. The second Visa Application Charge for contributory parent visas is significant (currently $43,600 per parent).

457 Visa to be Abolished – Replaced by Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa from March 2018

The 457 Visa is to be abolished from March 2018, and replaced by a new temporary work visa called the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa.

This initiative was announced on Facebook by Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull.

Some information on the new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa are now available on the Department of Immigration website.

Changes to the occupations list for 457 visas will come into effect from 19 April 2017 – with some sources suggesting that up to 200 occupations will be removed from the approved list.

The changes will also impact on people applying for permanent residence through the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) and the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) visa.

New Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa

There is some information on the requirements for the new temporary work visa replacing the 457 visa.
The main points are as follows:

Occupations List

From 19 April 2017, a shorter list of occupations will be allowed for the 457 visa – some sources suggest that up to 200 occupations will be cut.
We would expect that the shorter list would also apply to the new TSS visa.

A change to the approved list for 457 visas could also impact on the ENS direct entry visa, the Occupational Trainee Stream of the Training Subclass 407 visa, and state nominated General Skilled visas (ie the Skilled Nominated Subclass 190 and Skilled Regional Provisional Subclass 489 visa).

Work Experience

A minimum of 2 years of work experience will be required to meet the requirement for the visa. The skill level for a 457 visa can currently be met without any work experience, providing the applicant has relevant qualifications.
This change will impact significantly on those without work experience in the occupation – particularly international students completing studies in Australia.

Labour Market Testing

Labour Market Testing would require employers to show that they have advertised the position to be filled and show that a local is not available to fill the position.
Currently, Labour Market Testing is only required when nominating trade occupations, nursing or engineering occupations for a 457 visa. The announcement indicates that Labour Market Testing will be required in all cases when applying for a TSS visa, except when exempted by international trade agreements.

If Labour Market Testing is required in most cases when applying for a TSS visa, this could significantly delay lodgement of the visa application – particularly important when filling an urgently required role or where the applicant’s visa is expiring.

Visa Period

There will be 2 streams for the TSS visa – a short-term stream of 2-years and a medium-term stream of 4-years.
The short-term stream can only be renewed only once.

The medium-term stream is likely to have higher requirements (eg English language ability, shorter occupations list) and can be renewed or may also lead to a permanent visa.

Police Clearances

Police clearances will be required for the TSS visa. Depending on the country of residence, these can take several months to come through. Police clearances are not required for 457 visas, unless the applicant has a criminal record.
Permanent Employer Sponsored Visas

Changes have also been outlined for permanent employer sponsored visas – this would potentially affect both the ENS and RSMS visas. It is not yet clear when these changes would come into effect – most likely this would be March 2018.
Likely changes include:

Work Experience: 3 years of work experience will be required to apply for permanent employer sponsored visas in general.
Transition from 457: for the ENS and RSMS Temporary Residence Transition stream, applicants must currently show that they have worked for their employer on a 457 visa for 2 years. 3 years of work for the employer on a TSS will be required going forward
Age: applicants for permanent employer sponsored visas will need to be under 45 when applying. Currently, it is possible to apply for ENS and RSMS up to the age of 50, and a few concessions exist to waive the age requirement. This change would have a significant impact on older applicants.
Regional Concessions

The announcement indicates that certain concessions will be retained for regional employers. These may include:
Occupations List for Temporary and Permanent Employer Sponsored Visas: a wider range of occupations may be possible for both the 457/TSS and RSMS visas for regional employers.
Age Exemptions for Permanent Employer Sponsored Visas: age waivers are currently possible for the ENS and RSMS visa for certain occupations – this includes medical practitioners, academics and staff at Government scientific agencies. These concessions will be retained for regional employers, and might also be expanded

https://www.facebook.com/malcolmturnbull/?hc_ref=PAGES_TIMELINE

https://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Work/457-abolition-replacement

http://www.minister.border.gov.au/peterdutton/2017/Pages/putting-australian-workers-first.aspx

Migration to Australia for Nurses

Nursing is one of the most favourable occupations for migration to Australia. This article goes through the most important things you need to know if you are looking to migrate to Australia as a nurse.

Nursing Specialisations on the Skilled Occupations List

The most commonly used nursing specialisation when applying for migration to Australia is the occupation of Registered Nurses NEC (Not Elsewhere Classified). This occupation is on the Skilled Occupations List and is usually the most straightforward nursing specialisation to apply for skills assessment in.
Most nursing specialisations are on the Skilled Occupations List – for example Aged Care, Critical Care and Emergency, Mental Health and Surgical nurses. These would generally require evidence of work experience in the relevant field for a positive skills assessment.

Whilst Nursing Clinical Director is on the SOL, other senior nursing occupations such as Nurse Educator, Nurse Researcher and Nurse Manager are not on the SOL, but are on the CSOL (Consolidated Sponsored Occupations List). This means that state/territory and employer sponsored visas are still a good option.

Enrolled Nurses and Mothercraft Nurses, similarly, are on the CSOL, but not the SOL.

Nursing Support workers – which includes the specialisations of Assistant in Nursing (AIN), Nurses’ Aide and Paramedical Aide are not on the CSOL and so are difficult occupations to apply for migration in.

Application Pathways for Nurses

1. General Skilled Migration

This option would require you to pass skills assessment in your occupation and to receive an invitation through SkillSelect.
Many nurses apply through the Skilled Independent Subclass 189 visa. This is where you are not sponsored by a state/territory government or a relative, and requires at least 60 points in the skilled migration points test for an invitation.

Those will lower levels of English or who are older may not be able to achieve 60 points independently. In this case, many consider either state nomination or family sponsorship.

If sponsored by a state or territory government, this gives an extra 5-10 points and also gives you higher priority in SkillSelect. Nurses are in demand in most states and territories.

Family sponsorship is only possible if you have an Australian permanent resident or citizen living in a designated area. In this case, you would apply for a Skilled Regional (Provisional) Subclass 489 visa, and the family sponsorship will give you 10 extra points.

Employer Sponsorship

Nurses are often sponsored by employers for visas – possible options include:
457 Visa: This is a 4-year temporary visa, which requires a minimum base salary of at least $53,900 and for the employer to be an approved sponsor
ENS Visa: This is a permanent visa, most commonly applied for once you have worked for your employer for 2 years. It is also possible to apply directly if you have a skills assessment and at least 3 years of work experience in your occupation
RSMS Visa: This option requires a job offer in a regional area. Employers need to meet lower requirements, and there is a wider range of occupations which are possible. No formal skills assessment is required in general for the direct entry option, so it is a good option if you do have a job offer in a regional are
Working as a Nurse in Australia

To work as a nurse in Australia, you must be registered through AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency).
If you are applying for an employer-sponsored visa, you will need to either hold registration or be eligible for registration on arrival in Australia.

Registration would require you to have a recognised Australian or overseas qualification, and to meet the English requirement.

Recognised Overseas Nursing Qualifications

Bachelor-level qualifications from the following countries are likely to be recognised by AHPRA: Belgium, Canada, Chile, Hong Kong, Ireland, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Singapore UK and the USA.
If your qualification is not recognised, you may need to undertake a bridging course in Australia to convert your qualification to the Australian equivalent.

English Requirement

AHPRA will require you to show that you meet their English language requirement.
This will often require completion of an English language test. AHPRA accepts the IELTS, OET, PTE Academic, and the TOEFL iBT. It is possible to use 2 different test sittings to meet the English requirement – these need to be done within 6 months of each other. Test results are valid for 2 years.

Exemptions from English testing apply if your initial qualifications, schooling or tertiary qualifications were done in certain English-speaking countries.

Skills Assessment for Nurses

You will require a skills assessment if you are applying for general skilled migration, or for the direct entry stream of the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa.
The skills assessment for nurses is through ANMAC (Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council). There are 3 main eligibility pathways for skills assessment as a nurse:

1. Registration in Australia

If you are registered as a nurse in Australia through AHPRA, you can apply for a “modified skills assessment”. This would require you to show evidence of your registration and your entry-level qualifications. If you have been registered overseas or have been an enrolled nurse in Australia, you’ll also need to show documentation about this.
Note that AHPRA registration in itself is not sufficient for skills assessment – you will need to go through ANMAC if you need a migration skills assessment.

2. Initial Qualifications in Recognised Overseas Country

This would require you to have your initial nursing qualifications and registration in Canada, European Union, Hong Kong, Singapore or United States.
You would also need to meet the English requirement for ANMAC skills assessment. This may require you to undertake an English test – but you would to be exempt from testing if you have studied for 5 years or more in certain English-speaking countries.

3. Registration in Recognised Overseas Country

This option is similar to the “Initial Qualification” pathway, but would apply if you currently have registration in the UK, Ireland, USA or Canada only. In this case, your initial nursing qualifications can be done elsewhere, but you’ll need to show you have been working full time in nursing for at least the last 3 months in one of these countries.

Employer Sponsorship – Recent Developments Feb 2017

Employer sponsorship has been controversial in recent times and the Department of Immigration continues to make changes.

This article goes through some of the recent trends we have encountered in the 457 and other employer sponsored programs, and also flags some possible changes which may come into effect in 2017.

Cancellations of 457 Visas

Immigration has stepped up its compliance operations and is now much more likely to cancel visas where:
An employee has ceased work; or
In the case of dependent partners, where the relationship has ceased
A typical scenario would be where a spouse relationship has broken down. If this is reported to Immigration, the dependent partner will receive a Notice of Intention to Consider Cancellation (NOICC). Whilst the partner can put forward reasons for not cancelling the visa, this is happening more often – even if a new visa application has been lodged.
Cessation of employment – 60 rather than 90 Days

Since November 2016, employee who have ceased employment for more than 60 days are considered to be in breach of visa conditions. The 60-day timeframe applies to 457 visa granted on or after 19 November 2016.
The timeframe was previously 90 days, so this means 457 holders have less time now to find a new 457 sponsor if they finish employment.

457 holders who cease employment for more than 60 days are now more likely to face cancellation, so it’s very important to be aware of this if ceasing employment.

Possible Changes to Consolidated Sponsored Occupations List (CSOL)

The Minister for Immigration has indicated on a number of occasions that he is looking to reduce the number of occupations on the approved list for 457 sponsorship, the CSOL.
The Minister has said that this will happen “very soon” but there is no clear timeframe on when this would happen.

The Minister has tasked the Ministerial Advisory Council on Skilled Migration (MACSM) to review the 457 list and their report is due in the first half of 2017.

If a change is made, the most likely date would be 1 July 2017, but the list could be changed at any time by issuing a new Legislative Instrument.

Possible Increase to Minimum Salary for 457 (TSMIT)

The Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) is the minimum a 457 holder can be paid. The current minimum salary is $53,900 and has been at this level since July 2013.
A review of the TSMIT was commissioned by the Minister in December 2015, and was to report to Government in April 2016. To date, we do not have any information on recommendations, or when they would be implemented.

However a recent report from the Australian Population Research Institute suggests that a large number of IT workers are paid at the lowest possible rate, which suggests an increase might be warranted at least for the IT sector.

ENS/RSMS Processing Times – Impact on Training Requirement

Processing times for the permanent Employer Nomination Scheme and Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme are now 8 months in most cases. Because of the long processing time, we are starting to see Immigration requesting updated training information – for the period between lodgement and prior to grant of the ENS nomination.
As a result, it is more important than ever to ensure that the business complies with its 457 training obligation at all times.

Conclusion

Employer sponsorship continues to be under the spotlight.

 

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-20/government-cutting-457-job-list-for-skilled-migrants/8040548

GSM for Trade Occupations

Australia has a shortage of trades workers – suitably qualified and experienced trades people from overseas have always been welcomed in Australia and have great employment prospects.

There are a number of different migration pathway options available – this article goes through the main requirements for trades workers migrating through the points tested General Skilled Migration program.

Nominating a Skilled Occupation

First you would need to choose an occupation to apply for a skills assessment in.
The choice would depend mainly on your qualifications and work experience, but it is best to nominate an occupation on the Skilled Occupations List (SOL) if possible.

There are a wide range of trades on the SOL – including construction trades, automotive trades, metal workers and chefs.

Even if you do not have an occupation on the SOL, it is still possible to apply for migration by obtaining sponsorship by a state or territory government – many states and territories have trades occupations on their State Migration Plans.

Skills Assessment

The first step in applying for general skilled migration is to get your skills assessed as suitable to work in your trade in Australia.
The correct pathway can be difficult to determine – it will depend on your trade, passport country and whether you’ve studied in Australia. The main pathways are as follows:

1. Trade Test

If you are in certain trades and have a passport from certain countries, you must go through the trade test pathway.
The first step would involve providing evidence of your trade qualifications and work experience in your trade. Overall, you must show that you have worked and studied for at least 5 years in your occupation, or 3 years if you have an Australian trade certificate.

The second step requires either a technical interview or a practical test. The technical interview would normally be done via Skype through an approved venue and involves you explaining how you would undertake certain tasks. The practical test is required for licensed trades, and requires you to demonstrate your skills in person.

2. Paper Assessment – Migration Skills Assessment

This would be done via the TRA’s “Migration Skills Assessment” pathway. This option would require you to have a formal trade qualification – either an apprenticeship or vocational qualification. You would also need to have work experience of at least 3 years, and to have worked for at least 12 months in your trade in the last 3 years.
If you do not have a formal qualification, it is possible to have a qualification issued via Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) – in this case you would need to show at least 6 years of work experience in your trade to pass skills assessment.

TRA requires applications to be “decision ready” – any mistake or omission will result in a refusal so it is important to ensure that the application is prepared carefully.

3. Job Ready Program

This option is available for international students who have completed a trade qualification in Australia – generally this would need to be at the Certificate III level or higher.
There are two main parts to the Job Ready Program (JRP) application.

Firstly, you would obtain a provisional skills assessment by showing that you have completed a relevant qualification in Australia and have worked in a relevant position for at least 360 hours. You would use the provisional skills assessment to apply for an 18-month Graduate Temporary subclass 485 visa.

Secondly, you would work full time in your trade in Australia for 1725 hours (approx. 12 months). The work must be registered with TRA by the employer, and you would need to keep a log book of your work. Towards the end of your 1725 hours, you would have a practical trade test and only then would you be issued a skills assessment you can use for a permanent visa application.

Skilled Migration Points Test

Next, you would need to obtain at least 60 points in the skilled migration points test.
You can score points for a number of different factors, including:

Your Age
Skilled Work Experience – you can score points for work experience either in Australia or overseas
English language ability – to score points, you would need to undertake English language testing
Australian Studies
State Nomination
SkillSelect EOI System

Once you have sufficient points, you would lodge an Expression of Interest (EOI) through SkillSelect.
It is not possible to apply directly for a General Skilled Migration visa – you must first be invited through SkillSelect.

State Nomination (Optional)

If you do not have an SOL occupation, you would apply for state nomination after lodging your EOI. States and territories have their own criteria for state nomination – this would in general require you to demonstrate your work experience, English language ability and commitment to living in the state or territory.
Visa Application

Once you have received your invitation through SkillSelect, you have 60 days lodge your visa application.
You will need to provide documentation on the points you claimed in your EOI, so it’s very important that the EOI is completed accurately.

You and your family members will be asked to complete health and police checks. Once your application is granted, you would generally have 12 months from completing your health and police checks to enter Australia for the first time.

The Australian Government’s Department of Education and Training reviews the skilled migration program’s Skilled Occupation List each year based on certain criteria e.g., demand and supply or the amount of training needed etc., and flags certain occupations for future removal. Today was the last day for submitting feedback to the Minister for Immigration for consideration in March. The final list will take affect from 1st July next year.

The current list includes 183 occupations and is used to determine the eligibility for Australia’s permanent skilled migration scheme. There is another list which is longer, called the Consolidated Skilled Occupation list, which is for temporary work visas under 457 visa scheme.

Right now, the following occupations have been shortlisted for potential removal from Skilled occupation list.

  • Production Manager (Mining)
  • Accountant (General)
  • Management Accountant
  • Taxation Accountant
  • Actuary
  • Land Economist
  • Valuer
  • Ship’s Engineer
  • Ship’s Master
  • Ship’s Officer
  • Surveyor
  • Cartographer
  • Other Spatial Scientist
  • Chemical Engineer
  • Civil Engineer
  • Geotechnical Engineer
  • Quantity Surveyor
  • Structural Engineer
  • Transport Engineer
  • Electronics Engineer
  • Industrial Engineer
  • Mechanical Engineer
  • Production or Plant Engineer
  • Aeronautical Engineer
  • Agricultural Engineer
  • Biomedical Engineer
  • Engineering Technologist
  • Environmental Engineer
  • Naval Architect
  • Medical Laboratory Scientist
  • Veterinarian
  • Medical Diagnostic Radiographer
  • Medical Radiation Therapist
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Podiatrist
  • Speech Pathologist
  • General Practitioner
  • Anaesthetist
  • Cardiologist
  • Endocrinologist
  • Gastroenterologist
  • Intensive Care Specialist
  • Paediatrician
  • Obstetrician and Gynaecologist
  • Medical Practitioners (nec)
  • Barrister
  • Solicitor
  • Psychotherapist
  • Psychologists (nec)
  • Chef*
  • Boat Builder and Repairer
  • Shipwright

http://www.sbs.com.au/yourlanguage/punjabi/en/article/2016/11/21/52-jobs-may-get-removed-skilled-occupation-list

DIBP Independent review into the integrity of the 457 programme.

DIBP Independent review into the integrity of the 457 programme.

Training Benchmarks A and B to training Fund

English language level will be altered to an IELTS average of 5 overall,

ATO and the Department have signed an MOU which allows information to be shared on 457 visa holder salaries.

English language providers are already in progress

For more details, call us for Live Migration Consultation on 1900 969 8472 or book an appointment for the consultation on 03 9670 1010 or your walk in during office hours at 402/343 Little Collins St Melbourne – MY VISA ONLINE

Coalition opens way for foreign chefs, brickies

THOUSANDS of foreign chefs, bricklayers and tilers will no longer have to be sponsored by employers to obtain permanent visas, as the Abbott government eases skilled migration rules to address alleged labour shortages.

Under changes backed by business groups, the three professions have been added to the Skilled Occupation List from July, meaning these workers will be able to apply for a permanent visa without requiring a sponsor.

Unions attacked the changes as unjustified given employers had recently said there were having “little difficulty’’ finding workers in the building industry.

Documents seen by The Weekend Australian also show the agency that recommended the changes acknowledged the inclusion of chefs could result in “exploitation of the training system for permanent residency’’.

Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb said the tourism sector faced labour and skills shortages, with an additional 56,000 workers required by next year, including 26,000 skilled positions.

Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Michaelia Cash said the addition of the three professions would be welcomed in regional areas where there was increased demand for these jobs but “a decrease in apprenticeship completions’’.

“As an island nation with a small population, a sustainable human capital strategy for Australia must be readily available to safeguard business from labour and skills shortages,’’ Senator Cash said.

“However, it would be simplistic to say that there is always an Australian willing and available to fill a particular position in various geographical locations within Australia, and it is the role of the skilled migration program to fill the gap.’’

Under the general skilled migration program, professionals and other skilled migrants can enter Australia without being sponsored by an employer. While they have to nominate an occupation on the skilled occupation list, there is no obligation for them to work in that occupation.

The government has capped the program at 43,990 skilled visas next financial year. For each of the professions on the list, the number of positions available is capped at 6 per cent of the occupation’s workforce.

Senator Cash said the government had decided to set the cap for chefs at 3 per cent for an initial six months.

According to the ABS Labour Force survey, about 76,100 chefs, 23,360 bricklayers and 15,800 floor and wall tilers work in Australia.

Under the 3 per cent cap, up to 2283 overseas chefs could apply for a place in the program, rising to 4566 if the cap went to 6 per cent. For bricklayers, the maximum number would be 1401, and 948 for floor and wall tilers.

Senator Cash stressed the changes would not result in thousands of extra foreign workers coming to Australia. Given total places remained capped at the same level, the entry of additional chefs, bricklayers and tilers would result in less places being approved among the existing 188 occupations on the list.

United Voice, the union representing chefs, said it did not accept there was a “skills gap’’ among chefs.

“The industry has got no problems attracting staff in Australia, the industry has a problem keeping staff,’’ said the union’s acting national secretary, David O’Byrne. “It has high turnover, low wages and highly casualised labour.”

The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union pointed to the latest national survey by the Master Builders, which found the degree of difficulty in finding employees and subcontractors decreased in the March quarter.

“All categories are close to record lows with little difficulty finding employees or subcontractors in the building industry,” the survey said.

Dave Noonan, the national secretary of the CFMEU’s construction division, said the policy change “again demonstrates that the Abbott government does not have the interests of working Australians at heart’’.

Master Builders acting chief executive Richard Calver said the survey also showed “strong growth in the residential construction sector’’.

In recommending the changes, the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency said the inclusion of chefs “presents risk in terms of exploitation of the training system for permanent residency purposes’’ as had occurred prior to 2010. It said the risk had been diminished by policy changes.

Mr Robb said the changes would ensure Australia could fill the workforce needs of the “next wave of tourism infrastructure’’.

At Crown casino in Melbourne, Mark Holmes, general manger of food and beverage, said Crown gave priority to recruiting locally and had a program to train Australian chefs. “But we still currently have a number of local chef vacancies which have taken much longer than usual to fill,’’ Mr Holmes said.

 

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/policy/coalition-opens-way-for-foreign-chefs-brickies/story-fn59noo3-1226946439974

Call for visas to serve up chefs

 

STRICT English language requirements for foreign workers are being reviewed as the Immigration Department negotiates a new labour agreement for the hospitality industry

The department is evaluating an industry request to fast-track thousands more foreign chefs and cooks on temporary work visas.

Separately, the department is considering lowering the existing requirement for 457 visa workers to have “functional ­English’’, as part of a government-ordered inquiry into the temporary work scheme.

Restaurant and Catering Australia chief executive John Hart yesterday revealed the hospitality industry wants the agreement to extend 457 visas to cover waiters and bar staff, as well as skilled chefs and managers.

The industry also wants to waive English language requirements and axe the $53,900 minimum salary.

Mr Hart said foreign workers should be paid the same award rates as Australian staff. And he said kitchen staff did not need to speak English.

“The reality is that most of the people coming into the business are cooks and chefs and many of the kitchens, especially in the ethnic cuisine, don’t use English at all,’’ he said. “The language of the kitchen is the language of the cuisine. It is not appropriate to set the bar so high where there’s no requirement for English in the workplace, particularly with cooks and chefs.’’

Mr Hart said the industry needed to recruit 3500 more chefs and cooks because of a shortage of local labour.

Restaurateur Philip Thompson, who owns the Sydney Cove Oyster Bar, said he had sponsored two chefs and two managers on 457 visas, and relied heavily on backpackers and foreign students to staff his popular Circular Quay eatery.

Mr Thompson said he paid award wages, but still could not find suitable Australian workers.

Only three of his 40 staff, including the head chef, were Australian. He has hired seven Italian waiters — “they’re fantastic and really understand service’’ — but backpacker visa rules prevented him employing them for more than six months.

“It’s not seen as a profession in Australia — it tends to be a part-time job for people to put themselves through uni — but a lot of the overseas people see it as a profession,’’ Mr Thompson said.

His general manager is Indonesian Dimple Nanikram, who first came to Australia from Bali to study business management.

She said Australian jobseekers did not want to work weekends, even though they were paid time and a half on ­Saturdays and double time on Sundays.

The restaurant’s floor manager is 27-year-old Turkish woman Hasrel Talus, who worked for years in international hotels and restaurants in Istanbul before moving to Australia to study English.

“We have 200 resumes at the moment and there is not one Australian one there — they are all from overseas,’’ she said yesterday.

“I love working here; you can’t complain working every day in front of the Harbour Bridge.’’

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/policy/call-for-visas-to-serve-up-chefs/story-fn9hm1gu-1226876191494#