Category Archives: AES News

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Australian Business Groups demand 457 Visa reforms

The 457 work visa is regarded as extremely useful by Australian businesses; however, there are people who do not like the scheme. Many people in Australia hold the view that the programme takes jobs away from Australians and gives them to immigrants who work for much lower salaries. Those people will not like the recent letter penned by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who wants to decrease the market testing limitations which are attached to the 457 visas.


Market Testing

The whole point of market testing is to prevent jobs from being taken away from Australians. The business groups argue that the whole reason for market testing is a lie. The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) alleges that the limitations actually end up hurting the local economy. The basic idea which they dispute is that they will hire foreigners over the locals. The main reason that the ACCI is disputing the requirements of the 457 visa is that the programme is used by companies to fulfil positions for which they do not find suitable local candidates.


The market testing aspect of the visa limits employers from hiring people below the average salary rates from other countries. Basically, if the market rate of a job is 20 dollars an hour, then a company cannot sponsor someone’s immigration and have them work at 10 dollars an hour. This is a great idea in principle and it makes sense, but the problem is that the figure does not take geographical differences into account.


Different limits for different areas

One proposal by the ACCI which is very reasonable is that the salary below which people cannot be hired should be based on the locality as well. The main metropolitan cities of Australia have a much higher cost of living than some of the other cities. When companies hire employees in bigger cities, they pay more, since the market rate is high due to the cost of living. The opposite is true for other, smaller cities. Those cities are the ones which are hurt the worst by these limits, as they can often not hire foreigners without paying them a much higher salary then they would have to pay someone already in Australia.


Understanding Skilled Immigration

One aspect which is often not understood by many locals is that skilled immigration is based on the needs of Australia. In the year 2015, for example, there was no need for auditors to be hired from other countries because the demand for auditors was met with local residents. Thus, there were very few visas available for auditors. The Skilled Occupation List outlines which skills are required in Australia; the openings are usually for specific degrees and qualifications for which there is a need in this country.


Basically, the 457 scheme is already designed to fulfil the positions which local residents cannot, because there aren’t enough skilled people or because there are just too many jobs available. Thus, the jobs are not being taken away from the locals. Some people may dispute it however, as we have heard anecdotes from people about how they were fired and someone from another country was hired in this place. Have you heard of such a case? If you have then do share the information with us in the comments.


Source: Migration Alliance

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Urgent review of investment visa rules needed

The 90% plunge in significant investor visa applications has prompted calls to Trade Minister Andrew Robb to review the program or risk losing an estimated $5 billion to $7 billion investments a year.


Last year’s changes to the SIV program required investors under the SIV program to put funds into venture capital and technology. This change has led to a dramatic fall in the SIV applications from 128 a month to between just eight and 12 a month this financial year, according to a report in The Australian.


West Australian Liberal backbencher Ian Goodenough has told parliament that the decision to exclude property development and established companies from the program “has proved problematic in practice”.


“This is very serious, and as a nation we could be forgoing up to $7.2bn in investment through the business migration program each year due to the recent changes in the program,” Mr Goodenough said.


James Clarke from the Australian China Business Council of West Australia told The Australian that there were concerns that the crash in applications from Chinese investors since July 1 last year meant Australia was “forfeiting more than $5bn per year to competitor markets such as Europe and the UK”.


“With an undeniable drop in application numbers, it can be clearly seen that a serious look needs to be had at the reforms implemented in July 2015, and quick steps be taken to ensure program success,” Mr Clarke said.


Trade Minister defended the changes, but conceded there were fewer visas granted so far, and there would be a lower overall investment.


“We do expect that when the new scheme reaches steady state that the quantum is likely to be lower than under the old rules, but the investment dollars we do attract will be more dynamic investment in areas of the economy where it can make a real difference,” he told The Australian.


There was a “fatal flaw” in the previous scheme, which benefited fund managers and encouraged passive investment in residential property, he said.


Source: Migration Alliance

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Record numbers of Chinese nationals to celebrate Chinese New Year in Australia

More than 100,000 Chinese nationals have decided to celebrate Chinese New Year in Australia this year.  The Department of Immigration and Border Protection(DIBP)  has processed about 100,000 visitor visa applications from China in January 2016 alone, a record figure for a single month. This is an increase of 17 per cent over January 2015.


Chinese New Year, celebrated today, is the peak travel period in China and is well known as the largest annual human migration in the world. The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton said that even with these record numbers the Department of Immigration and Border Protection has maintained a fast and efficient service.


‘My Department is enabling record numbers of Chinese tourists by significantly improving the processing time of visitor visa applications from China with the majority of applications processed within five days,’ Mr Dutton said.


‘This is an excellent result for the Australian tourism industry and the many thousands of Chinese nationals who choose Australia as a holiday destination.


‘The Year of the Sheep saw more than half a million visitor visa applications from Chinese nationals and we hope this trend will continue into the Year of the Monkey.’


The Department of Immigration and Border Protection is on track to receive well over 800,000 visitor visa applications from Chinese nationals for the 2015-16 year.  The Sichuan province is one of the largest sources of tourist visa applications to Australia and the Australian Government has opened a visa application centre in Chengdu specifically to support these people to more easily gain access to Australian immigration services.


‘This Government recognises the importance of Chinese tourists to the Australian tourism industry and economy as a whole, and as well as increasing efficiency in visa processing we are also introducing a number of tailored visa initiatives throughout 2016 to further encourage and support visitors from China, ‘ Mr Dutton said.


‘These include expansion of the visitor visa online lodgement system and trials of 10- year validity visitor visas, online Mandarin language visa applications and an optional 48-hour fast-track processing service.


‘My Department is working hard to support growth in the tourism industry while maintaining the integrity of our visa programmes.’


Source: Department of Immigration and Border Protection(DIBP)

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Australian birth-rates fall to lowest levels in 10-years

A lower birth rate and an ageing population means a diminishing tax base. How then is Australia going to support itself in the next few decades, if this continues?


The number of people aged between 15 and 64 for every older person has fallen from 7.3 in 1974-1975 to an estimated 4.5 this year. By 2054-55 that number is likely to be 2.7, according to Treasury statistics.


These figures presumably take into account current migration planning levels which have been set at 190,000 per year. But by the way things are going, it doesn’t look like it is enough.


Late last year, the ABS released statistics showing that the total birth-rate, or fertility rate, was 1.8 babies per woman. This rate is well below the replacement level of 2.1. Last year’s rate was lower than the 1.88 in 2013, and charts a downward trend evident for the past five years.


Altogether, 299,700 births were registered in Australia in 2014, down from 308,100 in 2013. For the first time the ABS mapped birth rates and found families in city centres have a much lower birth rates than outer suburbs, where the rate exceeds two children.


 “There was a strong pattern in our major cities where the highest birth-rates were in outer suburbs and very low rates in the inner city. These inner city areas had high proportions of younger people, but few babies,” ABS spokeswoman AJ Lanyon said.


Most babies are born to women aged between 30 and 34, although there has been a small increase in the birth-rate for 40 to 49-year-olds. Victoria has the lowest fertility rate and the Northern Territory the highest, at 2.1 births per woman.


A treasury report has noted that, “To maintain Australia’s existing age structure through immigration would require increases in immigration every year — and the increases would need to become progressively larger and larger to take account of the ageing of the migrants themselves.”


The Migration Council of Australia’s independent economic modelling last year indicated that Australia would need to raise migration levels to 250,000 per year in order to support the economy, maintain sustainable GDP levels and remain competitive internationally.


Source: Migration Alliance

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New one-year work visa with a lower skills and English language requirements proposed

More details have emerged about the new visa category designed to bridge the gap between the subclass 400 and 457 visas.

The department of immigration has proposed the introduction of a short term work visa that would allow companies to bring in foreign specialist’s workers to Australia for up to a year. The proposed visa is expected not to have the same language, skill and labour market testing requirements as the 457 visa and promises to reduce costs and visa processing times for employers.


The proposed “short-term mobility” subclass of visas would be available for “specialised work which may include intra-company transfers and foreign correspondents”, says a proposal paper obtained by The Australian Financial Review.


According to the AFR, the proposed visa is likely to replace the existing category 400 visa, which allows skilled or specialist entrants to work for up to six weeks. The report states that there were 4587 visas of this type granted when it was first offered in 2012-13. That jumped to 32,984 in 2013-14. Applicants are concentrated in mining, manufacturing, construction and education.


Employers have complained that the current 6-week limit on the sc 400 visa is too short for projects while the sc457 visa is riddled by red-tape, processing delays and high-costs.


Australian Mines and Metals Association director Scott Barklamb told the AFR that Australia would benefit from “mobile, highly skilled professionals who temporarily live and work where their specialised skills are most in need”. “Australians working in the resource sector often have opportunities to work and live temporarily all over the world and the Australian industry must similarly benefit from global engagement.”


According to the AFR, the short-term mobility subclass would include a visa valid for three months or a year. Candidates for the shorter visa could be bought in at the invitation of an Australian company. For the visa to be valid for up to 12 months, candidates would require a “statement of guarantee or undertaking from the Australian organisation detailing salary and any employment conditions reflective of the Australian standard for the duration of the stay must be provided”.


Source: Migration Alliance

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Applicant gets visa with fake documents

When exactly do things like Skills Assessment and English Language proficiency test documents get checked by the department of immigration? The answer apparently seems to be well and truly after the visa has been granted.                            

In a matter recently considered by the AATA, the Tribunal found that the DIBP granted the applicant a skilled visa purely based on information provided by the applicant at the time of application. There were no checks made by the DIBP with the Skills Assessment authorities or the relevant language testing centre prior to the DIBPs decision to grant the visa.

However, a year after the application and well after the grant of the visa, “CPA Australia advised the Department that in their database they had no record of the applicant’s skills assessment, that they had no record of the reference number provided by the applicant, and no record of the applicant’s name” according to the Tribunal member’s statement.

The Department, then undertook checks with the IELTS Report Form Verification Service which showed that there was no record of the applicant undertaking an IELTS English test – the Verification Service was unable to locate any record of the reference number the applicant provided and there was no record of the applicant’s name in their database.

DIBP subsequently cancelled the visa. The applicant applied for a review denying any wrong-doing and pointed to corruption within the DIBP and fraud by “a migration agent whom he paid a fee of $70,000…”.

“Fraud was perpetrated by his consultant and by the Department” noted the submission from the applicant’s representative at the Tribunal, “Our client was not complicit in any fraud perpetrated by the parties but as he has claimed he has been a victim in this matter.”

In reaching its decision, the Tribunal acknowledged that the visa cancellation is a serious outcome and would likely result in the applicant being subject to a section 48 bar preventing the grant of certain visa subclasses and an adverse migration history.

However, the Tribunal rejected the applicant’s key arguments and refused to accept that the applicant handed such a large amount of cash to a stranger on the promise of a visa. It did not comment on the claims of corruption in the DIBP nor question DIBPs audit process which effectively allowed the applicant to remain in Australia for some 20 months.

Source: Migration Alliance


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Tourism hits new records

Despite the amazing natural wonders of Western Australia, the state closest to Asia is struggling to draw visitors and as a result has seen spending by tourists drop by AU$60 million in the year to September, according to figures released by Tourism Australia yesterday.

Overall, the results from Tourism Research Australia’s International Visitor Survey show continuing growth with further record international arrivals, visitor nights and spending figures.

The report revealed that spending reached a new high of $34.8 billion, an increase of 13 per cent or $4.1 billion over the year, which is the strongest growth seen since 2001. International visitor arrivals increased 7 per cent to 6.7 million while nights were up 10 per cent, reaching 242 million during the year ending September 2015.

The Government’s efforts to boost flight capacity, visa reforms and focused international marketing are increasing Australia’s appeal in the growing global tourism market, noted Minister for Tourism and International Education, (and Minister Assisting the Minister for Trade and Investment) Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck.

“We have also made tourism infrastructure one of five National Investment Priorities, backing the growth of a key industry which supports around a million jobs,” noted the minister adding, “Australia’s strong international education sector is clearly having a positive impact on our tourism industry; with every international student in Australia attracting visits from friends and family.” Minister for Tourism and International Education Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck.

The figures show that visiting Australia for the purposes of education is supporting strong growth, with visitation up 19 per cent and nights up 18 per cent. Total trip spend for education visitors increased by 27 per cent for the year to $8.2 billion, which drove 43 per cent of the overall increase.

With approximately 600,000 international students currently enrolled onshore, and growing, that adds up to a significant contribution, noted Senator Colbeck.

The figures show growth in spending spread across the following visitor categories:

  • Education visitor spending: up 27 per cent to $8.2 billion
  • Employment visitor spending: up 26 per cent to $2.8 billion
  • Visiting friends and relatives spending: up 14 per cent to $5.8 billion
  • Holiday visitor spending: up 7 per cent to $13.2 billion

China continues to lead the growth with huge increases; visitor numbers are up 22 per cent to 896,000, nights up 25 per cent to 39.3 million and spend up a huge 43 per cent to $7.7 billion.

There was record spending by visitors from 10 of Australia’s top-20 markets: New Zealand, China, the United States, Singapore, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Taiwan, France and Switzerland.

Revenue from Tourism showed massive increases with Victoria leading the charge (up 28 per cent), Tasmania (up 24.4 per cent) and New South Wales (15.6 per cent). Western Australia saw a 2.6% increase. Calls are now being made for the Western Australian state government to do much more for tourism.

“The Barnett government has not matched huge increases in destination marketing by Queensland, NSW and Victoria and now those states are all achieving massive growth in international tourism while our numbers collapse,” Opposition (Labor) tourism spokesman Paul Papalia said. “Even Tasmania is embarrassing us.”

Source: Migration Alliance

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New Citizenship Law passed

In its final night for the year, Parliament passed legislation that will strip Australian citizenship from dual citizens who are involved in terrorist conduct overseas or convicted of terrorism activity.

The bill provides for dual citizens to lose their citizenship in two new ways: by engaging in conduct deemed to amount to a renunciation of citizenship, or by being convicted of a prescribed offence.

A statement from the office of the minister of immigration noted that theAustralian Citizenship Amendment (Allegiance to Australia) Bill 2015 aims to ensure terrorists who are dual nationals are prevented from returning to Australia and dual nationals who engage in terrorism within Australia can be removed where possible.

“The changes to the existing legislation were necessary to reflect the current threat that Australia and the rest of the world faces” notes the statement adding that, “Australia’s current threat level is now at ‘probable’ – meaning that there is credible intelligence assessed by our security agencies that indicates individuals or groups have developed both the intent and capability to conduct a terrorist attack in Australia.

“Dual nationals who engage in terrorism are betraying their allegiance to this country and do not deserve to be Australian citizens. The Governments highest priority has been and will always be keeping Australians and the community safe and secure.” Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton’s statement.

Greens and independent senator Nick Xenophon said that the changes to the citizenship laws could expose Australians to more terrorism.

“Ultimately we think the safest place for Australian citizens who have been convicted of violent acts, who are indeed criminals, is in custody here in Australia, not roaming the international stage,” Greens leader Richard Di Natale said.

Senator Xenophon said the proposed changes were inconsistent with an earlier national security bill, which aimed to prevent Australians travelling overseas as foreign fighters.

“The Government said we shouldn’t let people go overseas to fight, to be involved in terrorist attacks and we should keep them here, but this bill is saying if you’re overseas, we don’t want you back in the country,” he said.

Some analysts, have indicated that the new laws are likely to face a constitutional challenge on the grounds that the minister would be “the effective decision maker” in the cancellation process, and this could be characterised as an exercise of judicial power.

Source: Migration Alliance

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Engineers Australia now accepting TOEFL Ibt

Engineers Australia have announced on their website ( that from 1 January 2016 it will be accepting the TOEFL IbT as an alternative English Language Test to address the English language competency element of the Migration Skills Assessment.

Applicants submitting their application on or after the 1 January 2016 will be able to provide either an IELTS test result form with a score of 6 or more in each of the 4 modules, or a TOEFL IbT result with the following minimum scores for each module:

  • Listening 12
  • Reading  13
  • Writing     21
  • Speaking 18

Applicants will need to upload the test results, as well as write their registration number.

TOEFL IbT results will be accepted up to 2 years after the test date.

Information about TOEFL IbT can be found on the ETS website:

Source: MIA and Engineers Australia

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Interruption to DIBP services

Some employees of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection including the Australian Border Force, who are members of the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU), will take part in protected industrial action at various work sites over 7-9 December 2015.

The Community and Public Sector Union​ (CPSU) have given notice of 24 hour work bans over 7-9 December 2015, which will impact container/ cargo examination facilities and international mail facilities nationally.

The Department has contingency arrangements in place to protect Australia’s borders. The Department is working closely with stakeholders to minimise the impact on business the travelling public and on cargo and mail operations and is ensuring appropriate contingencies are in place for visa and citizenship services. During protected industrial action, the health, safety and security of the public and our staff continues to be our priority.

DIBP will continue to negotiate in good faith with all bargaining representatives to reach an agreement which is within our means, and meets the parameters set by the Australian Government Public Sector Workplace Bargaining Policy.

Please refer to the following link for more details:

Source: DIBP

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