Sydneysiders want migration restricted in the city: poll

Almost two-thirds of people believe migration to Sydney should be restricted and new arrivals sent to the regions, exclusive polling reveals as the Premier says she wants a better not bigger NSW.

The ReachTel poll for the Herald also shows that overdevelopment remains a key issue for voters, as the state and federal governments face the pressue of worsening congestion and population growth.

The poll results come as the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, signalled plans to slow the intake of some temporary migrants and to encourage new arrivals to settle regionally.

Mr Morrison, with his Immigration Minister David Coleman and Cities Minister Alan Tudge, are looking at simplifying the visa process to get more migrants to move outside the major cities.

More than 63 per cent of voters polled for the Herald supported restricting migrant numbers while 50 per cent opposed more development in Sydney to accommodate population growth.

The Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, said the debate around population should focus on people and how to” ensure the best quality of life for all of us”.

“I want NSW to continue to be seen as the magnet for human talent,” Ms Berejikian said.

“But I am also fiercely committed to protecting and improving our way of life, and all that we love about our local communities -our parks, our open spaces, our beautiful beaches, waterways and bushland.”

Ms Berejiklian said there needed to be a national debate about population policy and she would be encouraging Mr Morrison to “join me in leading that discussion for the country’s benefit.”

“States are on the frontline of infrastructure and service delivery so it makes sense we should have a say on population policy,” Ms Berejikilan said.

“Rather than talk about a big Australia, we should always strive for a better Australia. We also need to encourage and make it easier for people to consider moving to regional NSW.”

The Migration Council of Austalia chief executive Carla Wilshire said redirecting migration to the regions was not going to fix the congestion problems plaguing Sydney and Melbourne.

“I can understand why people in Sydney feel like this but by restricting migration, it doesn’t solve an underlying under-investment in infrastructure and urban transport,” Ms Wilshire said.

The poll of 1627 people taken on Thursday night also asked voters to nominate the issues of concern to them, with the cost of living emerging as the most important to voters.

More than one-quarter of people identifed cost of living as their main concern followed by energy prices and housing affordabilty.

The environment was ahead of hospitals, schools and transport, according to the poll.

The polling also shows that the Coalition and Labor are neck and neck six months out from the state election, with Opposition leader Luke Foley edging ahead of Ms Berejiklian as preferred premier.

The weekend marked six months until the March poll, which is looking increasingly likely to result in a hung parliament. The government has only a six seat majority.

The polling shows the fallout from the bruising leadership spill in Canberra has had an impact in NSW, with 40.4 per cent of voters saying the change in prime minister had altered their view of the state Liberal Party.

The Coalition’s primary vote has slumped to 35.1 per cent, down from 41.9 per cent in March.

Labor’s primary vote has also taken a dip to 31.5 per cent from 32.5 per cent six months ago, the polling shows.

Mr Foley has pushed past Ms Berejiklian as the more popular leader, with 50.2 per cent of voters polled believing Mr Foley would make a better premier.

But despite Mr Foley’s personal standing, only 41.1 per cent of voters think Labor is ready to govern again.

Pathway to claim 5 extra points towards Australia’s skilled migration

Visa applicants in skilled migration program are keen to gain extra points after the federal government announced significant changes in the point system from 1 July 2018.

Australia’s skilled migration program is a points-based system designed to attract highly qualified and experienced professionals to best meet Australia’s skills needs.

There are a number of skilled migration visas that require applicants to score a minimum number of points to qualify for permanent skilled migration.

After the government’s recent announcement of increasing points threshold from 60 to 65, many prospective applicants are looking for alternative ways to boost their chances in the General Skilled Migration (GSM) visa point system.

Some of the new applicants now rely on boosting their points by clearing language test from National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI).

NAATI offers Credentialed Community Language (CCL) Test that gives 5 points to the prospective applicants for their point-based GSM visa.

CCL Exam determines an applicant’s ability to interpret the conversation between two speakers speaking different languages.

Harpal Singh is a NAATI accredited translator and interpreter for Punjabi-English and he also serves as a member of the Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators (AUSIT) and the New Zealand Society of Translators and Interpreters (NZSTI).

Mr Singh told SBS Punjabi that in the last month only there has been an increase in the number of people who wish to take NAATI’s CCL test to gain five points for skilled migration point test.

“This follows government’s recent amendment to the point test threshold, and now everyone is keen to meet the desired criteria by taking up this examination,” he said.

“There’re two options, either you score 7 each in the English proficiency test IELTS or you clear NAATI’s CCL test. Often people find the second option easier as it is conducted at a conversational level compared to the academic nature of IELTS.”

Mr Singh explained that it should be clear that an individual who passes a CCL test is not certified to work as an interpreter or translator.

“This system is designed to benefit people who have multilingual skills. It is only supposed to help them gain five bonus points for their points-based visa applications made to the Department of Home Affairs. This does not provide them with a work opportunity in this field,” he says.

“The overall pass rate of the CCL test is above 50% and that’s why we see a large number of applicants opting for this test.

“It looks quite promising compared to the pass percentage of the test conducted to get certification as an interpreter or translator, which sits well below 15%.

Mr Singh explained that an overwhelming number of candidates take the CCL test lightly and come unprepared for the exam. “Just don’t be overconfident… It is only the practise that will make you through, so put some time and sincere effort if you wish to succeed,” he suggests.

Melbourne-based migration agent told that the recent change in the point test could be attributed to the high calibre of prospective applicants who express their interest in the GSM program.

“I often deal with Punjabi, Hindi and Urdu speaking clients from Indian-subcontinent and I see a huge interest in them to take the NAATI test to gain 5 extra points,” he said.

“The test success rate seems ok but the problem lies in registering for the examination. My clients are struggling to book sessions as there’re no seats available until December.

“It seems like a poorly organised system. I went to check NAATI’s Melbourne office who suggested they don’t have enough resources or manpower to cope-up with this huge increase in the number of applicants.

“The applicants who are desperate to gain this bonus may think of taking this test in the less crowded cities rather than doing it in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. But I seriously doubt if there are any seats left in those cities.

Australian citizenship approvals have been dramatically reduced

The processing of citizenship applications has been painfully slow this year with the Department of Home Affairs approving 54,419 applications during the first eight months of 2017-18, compared to 139,285 last year, according to information released to the Federal Parliament on Monday.

During this financial year, a total of 141,236 citizenship applications were received as of February 28, the Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs revealed.

The Department of Home Affairs last month told the Federal Parliament that over 200,000 people were awaiting the outcome of their citizenship applicants as of April 30 this year with the average waiting period for processing applications ballooning up to 16 months.

The relatively low number of citizenship grants is attributed to the period of April- October 2017 when the Department held on to new applications after announcing the citizenship reforms that sought to increase the general residence requirement and introduce a standalone English language test. The Government is planning to bring back a reworked version of the Bill after its proposed law was defeated in the Senate.

Home Affairs officer Luke Mansfield told a Senate Estimates hearing last month that an increased number of applications coupled with tightened national security requirements had led to an increase in the processing time of citizenship applications.

Citizenship applicants facing uncertainty

Atul Vidhata who runs an online forum – Fair Go for Australian Citizenship, says many migrants have been waiting much longer than sixteen months.

“When these people contact the department, they are told it’s not a service standard to process the applications within this timeframe,” he tells.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty due to a lack of clear communication. In our experience, some applications that were made in 2018 are being processed faster whereas applications made in 2017 are still held up.”

MP Julian Hill had questioned the Citizenship Minister Alan Tudge about the criteria applied for applications requiring ‘thorough analysis’ or ‘further assessment’.

“All applications for Australian citizenship are assessed on a case-by-case basis against the legislative criteria,” Mr Tudge responded.

India overtakes the UK as top source of Australian citizenship

Responding to questions by Victorian Labor MP Julian Hill, Mr Tudge revealed the country-wise break up of citizenship statistics.

India has been the top source of citizenship in Australia for the last five years overtaking the United Kingdom.

Since 2012-13, over 118,000 people born in India have pledged their allegiance to Australia by becoming Australian citizens. Indian migrants also top the list of country-wise visa recipients in Australia’s annual immigration program.

As of February 28 this year, 10,168 Indian-born migrants were granted Australian citizenship with 25,408 Indian-born people applying during the same time. The 2016-17 figure stood at 22,006 citizenship grants to Indian migrants with 29,955 Indians applying for it.

Australian citizenship: new changes to citizenship bill to be introduced this month

The bill has been assigned ‘a priority status’ by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton’s department and will be introduced to Parliament this month.The Australian Citizenship Legislation Amendment (Strengthening the Requirements for Australian Citizenship and Other Measures) Bill 2017 is set to make a comeback.

The bill has been assigned ‘a priority status’ by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton’s department and will be introduced to the Parliament this month.

Greens Senator Nick McKim raised the subject at the recent Senate Estimates hearing of the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee on May 22nd, where Department of Home Affairs Deputy Secretary of Policy, Ms Linda Geddes said the bill had been assigned ‘a priority status’ and will be introduced ‘in the winter parliamentary sitting period’.

The winter parliament session for June 2018 is scheduled for 18 to 21 June and 25 to 28 June but the bill has not yet been listed on the notice paper for Senate Business.

A spokesperson from the Department of Home Affairs did not confirm the date but said, “The timing for the introduction of legislation is a matter for Government.”

Senator McKim, who has been vocal in his opposition to the bill, told that he has not seen a copy of the new legislation but said he will continue to oppose the proposed changes to the bill which make it harder for migrants to become Australian citizens.

“We will be opposing the new bill and will work with other Senators to block it in the Parliament,” he said.

Last year, the Turnbull government’s first attempt to pass the bill failed after staunch opposition from Labor, the Greens, and the Nick Xenophon Team.

The legislation makes several changes to citizenship requirements.

They include changing the period of permanent residency from one year to four, a modest English language requirement, a new values test, and stronger character checks.

Potential citizens will also need to demonstrate their integration into the community, including by “behaving in a manner consistent with Australian values”.

The amended bill, which makes the wait longer and eligibility tougher for migrants, was struck down after the government missed the deadline in the Senate, thus striking off the bill by default on October 18th, 2017.

The new requirements which were published on the Home Affairs website have recently been taken down.

The spokesperson from the Department of Home Affairs did not explain why they have been taken down but said, “Information regarding any changes to Australian citizenship requirements will be available on the Department’s website.”

Over 200,000 citizenship applications awaiting outcome

The citizenship backlog today has reached alarming numbers with more than 200,000 applicants awaiting the outcome of their applications.

“The number of citizenship applications on hand as at 30 April for conferral is 209,826,” a member of the Home Affairs Department told the Senate Estimates Hearing in May.

Senator Nick McKim, who has called the proposed changes ‘hateful and divisive’, says this is due to the department ‘not allocating enough resources’ to process pending applications.

“The huge backlog of 200,000 means the department is not allocating enough resources.

“It is already too hard and taking too long to get citizenship. The government needs to make it easier,” he said.

Family visa applications processing taking up to 50 years

Limited places and a very high demand for some family visas have ballooned the waiting periods up to half a century.

Indian migrant Puneet Mittal has always wanted his parents to live with his family in Australia. This year he applied for a permanent visa under the Non-Contributory Parent visa for his parents. But it won’t be before 2048 that a decision on their visa applications is made.

Mr Mittal’s father is in his late sixties and mother is in early sixties. They have been given bridging visas and can stay in Australia, but can’t access Medicare benefit until their applications are decided.

Mr Mittal says the three-decade waiting period is “comical”.

“By the time my parents’ applications are processed, they will not be in good health as they are now and may not be considered medically fit for the visa grant,” he tells.

“I am pretty sure, they are not going to get a permanent residency. I just applied for the visa so that they are saved the hassle of reapplying for the visa repeatedly.”

The Department of Home Affairs has recently published the current processing timeframe for some family visas. While applications for parent visas are likely to take approximately 30 years, the timeframe for processing Aged Dependent Relative and Remaining Relative visa applications is “up to 50 years”, according to the Department’s website.

These applications are assessed in order of lodgement and are placed in a queue accordingly.

Once the cap for a particular year has been met, the remaining assessed applications are queued for processing in the subsequent year.

According to the information released by the Department of Home Affairs on migration planning levels, it will grant a maximum of 1500 parent visas, 7,175 contributory parent visas and 500 other family visas including Remaining Relative and Aged Dependent Relative visas. The cap of 500 on other family visas is down from last year’s 900.

Gujhar Bajwa of Bajwa Migration in Melbourne says some family visas, especially parents visas are in high demand.
“Because the annual migration planning allows only a small number of visas under the parent category while the demand is increasing, a huge queue has now built up which will take decades to clear.”

He says while parent visas are popular because applicants can stay with their children in Australia while on a bridging visa, other family visas, such as the Remaining Relative visa, are not very popular among his clients.

“In all the years that I have been in this profession, I haven’t seen any of my clients getting this visa. The last one I know of was in 2003,” Mr Bajwa told.

 

 

H-1B visa to green card: Wait time for Indian workers is up to 151 years

Many of the Indian tech employees in the United States who don’t leave the country after their H-1B visas expire get sponsored by companies offering permanent jobs — setting workers on the path to a green card granting permanent residence.

It turns out that the path can be very, very long.

o continue working after an H-1B runs out, foreign citizens may obtain an EB-1 visa for people with “extraordinary” ability, an EB-2 for people with advanced degrees or an EB-3 for bachelor’s degree holders.

As of mid-April, more than 300,000 Indian immigrants were on EB visas and waiting for green cards, according to a new report from the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank. Add in spouses and minor children, and the total number on hold exceeds 600,000 people.

The approximately 217,000 Indians on the EB-2 visa for holders of advanced degrees have little reason to hope they’ll ever get a green card, according to Cato’s research, based on federal government data.

“At current rates of visa issuances, they will have to wait 151 years for a green card,” Cato reported Friday.

“Obviously, unless the law changes, they will have died or left by that point.”

Because each visa category is allotted a minimum of 40,040 green cards, and the share is not adjusted according to demand, and because immigrants from any one country can’t receive more than 7 percent of green cards issued each year, the wait times vary, according to Cato.

“The shortest wait is for the highest-skilled category for EB-1 immigrants with ‘extraordinary ability,’ the think tank reported.

“The extraordinary immigrants from India will have to wait ‘only’ six years. EB-3 immigrants — those with bachelor’s degrees — will have to wait about 17 years.”

The 1965 legislation that allowed immigrants from any nation to receive up to 7 percent of the green cards issued each year means that Estonians, for example, have a much easier time getting permanent residence than Indians, according to Cato.

Australian citizenship approvals have been dramatically reduced.

The processing of citizenship applications has been painfully slow this year with the Department of Home Affairs approving 54,419 applications during the first eight months of 2017-18, compared to 139,285 last year, according to information released to the Federal Parliament on Monday.

During this financial year, a total of 141,236 citizenship applications were received as of February 28, the Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs revealed.

The Department of Home Affairs last month told the Federal Parliament that over 200,000 people were awaiting the outcome of their citizenship applicants as of April 30 this year with the average waiting period for processing applications ballooning up to 16 months.

The relatively low number of citizenship grants is attributed to the period of April- October 2017 when the Department held on to new applications after announcing the citizenship reforms that sought to increase the general residence requirement and introduce a standalone English language test. The Government is planning to bring back a reworked version of the Bill after its proposed law was defeated in the Senate.

Home Affairs officer Luke Mansfield told a Senate Estimates hearing last month that an increased number of applications coupled with tightened national security requirements had led to an increase in the processing time of citizenship applications.

Citizenship applicants facing uncertainty.

Atul Vidhata who runs an online forum – Fair Go for Australian Citizenship, says many migrants have been waiting much longer than sixteen months.

“When these people contact the department, they are told it’s not a service standard to process the applications within this timeframe,” he tells.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty due to a lack of clear communication. In our experience, some applications that were made in 2018 are being processed faster whereas applications made in 2017 are still held up.”

MP Julian Hill had questioned the Citizenship Minister Alan Tudge about the criteria applied for applications requiring ‘thorough analysis’ or ‘further assessment’.

“All applications for Australian citizenship are assessed on a case-by-case basis against the legislative criteria,” Mr Tudge responded.

India overtakes the UK as top source of Australian citizenship.

Since 2012-13, over 118,000 people born in India have pledged their allegiance to Australia by becoming Australian citizens. Indian migrants also top the list of country-wise visa recipients in Australia’s annual immigration program.

As of February 28 this year, 10,168 Indian-born migrants were granted Australian citizenship with 25,408 Indian-born people applying during the same time. The 2016-17 figure stood at 22,006 citizenship grants to Indian migrants with 29,955 Indians applying for it.

Bridging visa surge includes 37,000 mystery holders and swamps permanent migration cuts

Massive growth in Australia’s ballooning temporary migration is dwarfing the Government’s cuts to the permanent intake.

Key points:

  • An extra 40,000 people are in Australia on bridging visas compared to a year ago
  • The Government has revealed it plans to cut the permanent intake by up to 20,000 this year
  • More than 2.2 million temporary visa holders are currently in Australia, a record high

The number of people who hold bridging visas — the same kind of visa given to the Commonwealth Games athletes who are seeking asylum — has hit a historic high.

At the end of March, 195,000 people with bridging visas were in Australia, including more than 37,000 whose nationality was not specified.

That is up more than 40,000 on a year ago, and close to 90,000 since 2014, according to official Department of Home Affairs figures.

It has pushed the number of people in Australia on temporary visas to more than 2.2 million — again, a record high.

Bridging visas are usually given to migrants whose substantive applications are currently being processed.

Jonathan Granger, director of Granger Australia and a former national president of the Migration Institute of Australia, described the migration program as “chaotic”.

“The resources available to the department are limited every year by Government, and yet Government rolls out reform agendas that are not well thought through, that require transitional arrangements and require multiple layers of processing against regulations in the same visa areas,” he said.

“The result of those things is significant delays.”

Attempt to cut migration
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said the Government was planning on cutting the permanent migration intake from its traditional level of 190,000 per year, down to approximately 170,000 this year.

But that number is dwarfed by the scale of the temporary visa program.

In the past year an additional 150,000 visitors are in Australia on temporary visas, including 33,000 more foreign students.

Many of these — such as students, backpackers and many bridging visa holders — have extensive work rights.

A Department of Home Affairs spokesperson said processing times were driven by a range of factors including:

  • the volume of applications received,
  • completeness of the application,
  • how promptly applicants respond to any requests from the department, and
  • the complexity of assessments in relation to health, character and national security requirements.

“The department monitors feedback, trends, and fluctuating processing times each month to identify issues in specific caseloads, opportunities for continuous business process improvement and client service efficiencies,” they told.

The mystery 37,000
The boom in bridging visas has been driven by a mysterious component of 37,000 visa holders for whom the Department of Home Affairs will not reveal their nationality.

he Department of Home Affairs declined to provide more explanation about this group.

Mr Granger said the program changes and lack of resources meant there were growing numbers of visa refusals that ended up at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

“This results in a significant rise of unwarranted refusals, and transfers time delays and costs over to the Appeals Tribunal,” he said.

“The Appeals Tribunal is wasting resources on expensive tribunal members deciding on simple visa matters.”

The average processing time at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for temporary work visas is 381 days over the past six months, up from 286 for the corresponding period a year ago.

Wayne Parcell, immigration partner at EY, said it was impossible to determine the “root cause” of the increase in bridging visas without more information.

“A surge in application rates in different visa categories, and looking at visa refusal numbers in different categories, can just as much be a reason for the increase as an increase in processing times across a range of visa categories,” he said.

Mr Parcell said many of his clients already on bridging visas were forced to request separate bridging visas if they needed to travel — for example for business or family visits — creating additional administrative load on the department.

“A reduction in the number of bridging visas is possible if a multiple entry travel facility was granted to all applicants who are legitimately awaiting a visa decision in Australia,” he said.

“This would decrease administrative effort for the Department of Home Affairs and improve the service experience for clients.”

The Turnbull government has fully reversed a regulation that effectively doubled the income requirements for visa sponsors.

The Coalition has officially scrapped its changes to so-called Assurance of Support visa sponsorship rules, weeks after a government backdown was negotiated to prevent a Senate defeat.

Social services minister Dan Tehan tabled the documents in parliament on Wednesday to complete the reversal, less than two months after the changes were introduced.

The government struck a deal with the Greens to restore the old rules when it became apparent the party had enough support from Labor and the crossbench to defeat the changes on the floor of the parliament.

The new requirements were brought in at the beginning of April and meant residents needed much higher salaries to bring their parents to Australia on a visa.

An individual trying to sponsor their two parents would need to prove they earn an annual income of $86,607, up from around $45,000 under the previous rules.

While the rules were in place for a number of weeks, the minister agreed that anyone who applied in that window would be reassessed under the old rules.

Greens senator Nick McKim thanked the minister for “engaging” on the issue and welcomed the “change of heart”.

“No doubt the government could see the writing on the wall, in terms of the Senate being prepared to support our motion,” he told.

The reversal came following weeks of backlash from migrant communities, with the Chinese community in particular launching a sophisticated petition campaign.

Reporting from various media channels demonstrated the changes would have impacted tens of thousands of migrants on Australia’s long waiting list for visas who were still being vetted by the Home Affairs department.

Occupation List Changes 17 January 2018

Occupation list changes – 17 January 2018

Occupation lists have been announced. These changes will apply from today, 17 January 2018.
Occupations added to the STSOL
ANZSCO Occupation Caveats
612112 Property manager Yes
272314 Psychotherapist Nil
612115 Real estate representative Yes

Occupations moved from STSOL to MLTSSL
ANZSCO Occupation Caveats
121316 Horse breeder Yes
224711 Management consultant Yes

**No occupations moved from MLTSSL to STSOL

Occupations removed from the lists
ANZSCO Occupation
312112 Building associate
142114 Hair or beauty salon manager

Occupations with caveat only changes
ANZSCO Occupation Caveat change
141999 Accommodation and hospitality managers nec New caveat
221112 Management accountant New caveat
411611 Massage therapist Wording amendment
223112 Recruitment consultant Amended caveat
133611 Supply and distribution manager Amended caveat
221113 Taxation accountant Amended caveat

Further information including caveat details can be found at https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/trav/work/work/2018-changes-of-eligible-skilled-occupations