Category Archives: AES News

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Phone scam seeking money from visa applicants

DIBP’s phone numbers are being used as part of a scam to intimidate visa applicants to pay money or face deportation. Be advised that DIBP’s general enquiry telephone numbers are not used for outbound calls. Staff from DIBP offices, including the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority will never use these numbers to phone visa applicants or agents.

Scamwatch​​ provides more details on how to protect visa applicants against phone scams.

Protect your per​​sonal information

You should never provide your personal, credit card or online account details if you receive an unexpected email requesting these, that purports to be from the Department. Inste​​​ad, you should contact the Department to verify the authenticity of the email.

Information about types of scams and how you can protect your​​​self is available on the Scamwatchwebsite.​

Source: DIBP

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Don’t sell visas, not even to significant investors, warns productivity commission

Auctioning off Australian visas could boost the country’s bottom-line by $7.6 billion per year but the Productivity Commission has rejected the idea saying that it is short-sighted and would attract the wrong sort of people. The commission also suggested that even the SIV program should be abolished.

In its draft recommendations, the Productivity Commission’s report has instead called for improvements in the immigration system stating that it needs to focus on attracting skilled migrants, removing barriers to immigrants integrating into the labour market, and improving access to humanitarian migrants.

The draft recommendations have backfired on Liberal Democratic Senator, David Leyonhjelm who originally called for the investigation into the price-based visa system and suggested that charging $40,000 per permanent visa would allow for large tax cuts for Australians.

The commission said its research and analysis found that gains from auctioning off visas would be minor compared to the ongoing contributions and income tax that can be collected from younger immigrants over their lifetime. It said, skilled immigrants contribute much more in tax than they cost in services and warned that selling visas could hurt the economy in the long term.

The commission also stressed that migration levels need to be maintained for decades to increase income levels of Australians. It said that at current levels of immigration, Australia’s population will reach 40 million by 2060, and real per capita incomes will climb 50 per cent.

The commission’s report also made a call to abolish the significant and premium investor visas saying that Australia’s “open and deep capital markets are no barrier to foreign investors.” It argued that the economic benefits of such visas accrue mainly to the visa holders and fund managers selling assets to foreigners.

“The benefits to Australian businesses seeking investment and the economic benefits to the broader Australian community are likely to be very small or nonexistent,” it said. “Overall the case for retaining the Significant Investor Visa and Premium Investor Visa streams is weak.”

The commission’s final report is due to be released in May next year. Follow this link to make submissions on the Commissions draft report.

Sourced from various media reports including the ABC, The Australian Financial Review and Sydney Morning Herald.

Source: Migration Alliance

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Australian Citizenship Legislative Changes Update

These amendments and the new fees will commence on 1 January 2016

  1. Foreign currency exchange

Acceptable foreign currencies for payment of citizenship application fees will be determined by the conversion instruments Payment of Visa Application Charges and Fees in Foreign Currencies and Places and Currencies for Paying Fees which are updated in January and July each year. 

  1. Increase in citizenship application fees

Amends Schedule 3 of the Citizenship Regulations to change the fees set out in this schedule payable for certain citizenship applications. The new charges can be found below:

Changes to amounts for citizenship application fees
Provision Before Amendment From 1 Jan 2016
Citizenship by descent – person born outside Australia to an Australian parent.

Applications made at the same time under section 16 of the Citizenship Act (Application and eligibility for citizenship) by 2 or more siblings.

$120 $230
Citizenship by descent – person born outside Australia to an Australian parent.

An application under section 16 of the Citizenship Act (Application and eligibility for citizenship), other than an application mentioned in table item number 1.

$120 $230
Citizenship through adoption – person adopted in accordance with the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. Applications made at the same time under section 19C of the Citizenship Act (Application and eligibility for citizenship) by 2 or more siblings. $120 $230
Citizenship through adoption – person adopted in accordance with the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption.

An application under section 19C of the Citizenship Act (Application and eligibility for citizenship), other than an application mentioned in table item number 3

$120 $230
Citizenship by conferral – general eligibility

An application under section 21 of the Citizenship Act (Application and eligibility for citizenship), other than an application mentioned in table item numbers 5 to 14 or items 14B to 15D, if the applicant claims eligibility on the basis of the criteria in subsection 21(2) of the Citizenship Act.

$260 $285
Citizenship by conferral – other than general eligibility – citizenship test not required.

An application under section 21 of the Citizenship Act (Application and eligibility for citizenship), other than an application mentioned in table item numbers 5 to 14B or 15C and 15D.

$130 $180
Citizenship by conferral – general eligibility – applicant previously passed citizenship test in association with a previous application.

An application (the new application) under section 21 of the Citizenship Act (Application and eligibility for citizenship), other than an application mentioned in table item numbers 5, 6, 7A, 14 and 15C, if: (a) the applicant claims eligibility on the basis of the criteria in subsection 21(2) of the Citizenship Act; and (b) the applicant previously made an application (the old application) on or after 1 October 2007; and (c) under the old application, the applicant sat a test as described in paragraph 21(2A)(a) of the Citizenship

$130 $180
Resumption of Australian citizenship

An application under section 29 of the Citizenship Act (Application and eligibility for resuming citizenship), other than an application mentioned in table item number 16.

$70 $210
Renunciation of Australian citizenship

An application under section 33 of the Citizenship Act (Renunciation)

$285 $205
Notice of evidence of Australian citizenship

An application under section 37 of the Citizenship Act (Evidence of Australian citizenship), other than an application mentioned in table item numbers 19 or 19A.

$60 $190 
  1. Application and transitional provisions

Amendments made by these changes apply to applications made under a provision of the Australian Citizenship Act 2007, made on or after 1 January 2016

Source: MIA

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Migration Legislative Changes Update

Effective from 21 November 2015 and apply to applications made on or after this date

  1. Student and student guardian visas

Dependent relatives of diplomatic and consular representatives will now be able to granted student or student guardian visas onshore during representatives’ posting period. The requirement for the Foreign Minister to recommend the grant of the visa has been removed.

  1. Diplomatic domestic workers employment conditions

The wages and working conditions of domestic workers of diplomatic or consular representatives must be determined in accordance with the standards under the relevant Australian legislation and awards.

  1. Visitor visa – 12 month maximum stay on combined visas

A Subclass 600 Visitor visa may only be granted, if the combined stay with one or more visitor visa, working holiday visa, work and holiday visa or bridging visa does not exceed a total of 12 months combined stay in Australia.  Exceptional circumstances must exist to be granted a period exceeding 12 months.

  1. Referred stay visas – human trafficking, slavery or slavery like practices.

Lowers the threshold and broadens the scope for allowing a person who has participated in the criminal justice process and would be in danger if they returned to their home country, to be issued an Attorney General’s certificate for a permanent Referred Stay visa

Effective from 01 December 2015 and apply to applications made on or after this date

  1. Three months employment for second Working Holiday Visa 

The three months specified work performed in order to gain a second WHV must be appropriately remunerated in accordance with relevant Australian legislation and awards.  The work will be calculated as the full time equivalent of 88 days.

Effective from 21 November 2015 and apply to applications made but not finally determined before this date or made on or after this date

  1. PIC 4020 added to six extra visa classes

The PIC 4020 has been added to Subclass (SC) 124 & 858 Distinguished Talent, SC 405 Investor Retirement, SC 410 Retirement, SC 771 Transit and SC 988 Maritime Crew visas.

Effective immediately

  1. Technical amendment

This is a technical amendment to enable an English test undertaken within three years of unfinalised pre-July 2012 applications to be accepted for those applications.

Source: MIA

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Will China’s currency devaluation affect student migration to Australia?

Some say the biggest devaluation of the Chinese currency in 21 years which wiped billions from stock markets came as a surprise and could severely affect the AU$18.1 billion education industry in Australia.

Maryland University finance professor Albert Kyle told The Australian that the devaluation will result in a slowing down of the interest of Chinese businesses and investors in Australian goods and services. This could include Chinese demand for education in Australia, as well as demand for property in Sydney and Melbourne, according to the report in The Australian.

“I think it is going to affect my business and also a big business in Australia, which is educating Chinese students…So that is an export market that will probably shrink since the parents of the children have less discretionary money to afford these relatively expensive degrees and that is why the Australian currency will depreciate along with the Chinese currency,” he said.

However, other analysts disagree and say that the devaluation will have a limited long-term impact on Australia’s education sector.  HSBC chief economist Paul Bloxham told The Australian that the bank didn’t think the currency would fall much further and Australia’s higher education sector would continue to benefit from China’s rising middle class.

“That’s a medium-term structural trend — it doesn’t really get thrown off by what we’ve seen in the last couple of weeks or even the short-term cyclical weakness we’re seeing in China,” Mr Bloxham said.

“Middle-class incomes are ­rising. They’re travelling abroad in big numbers and there are ­increasing numbers of people from China looking to get education offshore.” Mr Bloxham said the devaluation of the yuan, also known as the renminbi, was “relatively small” and China’s currency had strengthened substantially since 2008.

Figures compiled by Ernst & Young and McKinsey show the middle class across Asia and the Pacific is expected to increase from 500 million to more than three billion by 2030.

There were more than 150,000 Chinese students studying in Australia in 2013, the latest year for which figures are available, more than three times the number of enrolments from the second highest country of origin, according to the report.

International students contributed a record $18.1 billion in the 12 months ending in June, 14.2 per cent higher than the previous corresponding period.

Source: Migration Alliance

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Foreign workers needed to fill trades jobs as local apprentices dropout rate rises

The role of the sc457 visa in filling the gap in trades jobs has been highlighted by NSW Skills Minister John Barilaro as half the nation’s young apprentices drop out of their training. Mr Barilaro told The Australian that the crisis is likely to deepen with the average age of a tradesperson now being 40; a looming shortage of plumbers, electricians and builders; and the unwillingness of school-leavers to pursue trade skills.

“We’re paying the price of two or three decades of telling kids that trade jobs won’t get you a great lifestyle or income,’’ he said. “Parents are encouraging kids to go to uni instead.

“But for most tradies, they end up as entrepreneurs, running their own business.’’

According to The Australian, Mr Barilaro himself worked as a carpenter in the family business before entering politics.

“A lot of tradies have got flash utes and cars. Because of the skills shortage, the rates of pay have ­increased,’’ he said.

He noted that despite industry’s demand for skilled trades workers, nearly half the young Australians who start an apprenticeship drop out within four years. According to data from the National Centre for Vocational Education ­Research around 50% of all upper-secondary students enrol in vocational programs. However it showed 56 per cent of ­apprentices who began training in 2010 had finished working in their trade four years later.

“Only one in three apprentices in construction trades, hairdressing or the food industry completed their apprenticeships, while one-third of construction workers and 15 per cent of hairdressers pulled out of an apprenticeship within the first year.”

Master Builders chief executive Wilhelm Harnisch told The Australian that the trend was “disturbing’’, as the construction industry would need 300,000 extra trades workers over the next decade. “Training an apprentice is very expensive,’’ he said. “It’s mainly undertaken by small to medium-sized businesses, and when conditions become tough their willingness to take on an apprentice is reduced.’’

Source: Migration Alliance


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No more visa labels for Australian visa holders

Here’s another reason to ensure your smartphone is properly charged-up before travelling to Australia. Labels for Australian visas won’t be issued from September 1. It’s a move designed to streamline visa processing and encourage digital service use, says the department of immigration.

Your passport or ImmiCard number will be the basis of identification and to determine if you hold a valid visa to enter or remain in Australia. DIBP announced that from 1 September 2015 visa holders will no longer be able to request and pay for a visa label. Visa holders can access their visa record through the free Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) service or the myVEVO mobile.

The DIBP advised that the visa grant letter should be retained and carried by visa holders as the information contained within the letter ‘will help check your visa status online’. Clearly the online status information will prevail. Last year, Vietnamese student Minh Duong was refused entry into Australia despite claiming to have a valid grant letter. DIBPs systems indicated that his visa had expired. Minh Doung was refused entry and had to return to Vietnam to make another visa application to continue his studies in Australia.

The DIBP insists that, “The practice of obtaining visa labels often resulted in unnecessary expenses, delays and inconvenience for clients and stakeholders. Offering these services digitally is an efficient, economical and sustainable solution.”

The department’s statement said that electronic management of visa records is expected to provide real-time visa information to registered organisations and other appropriate stakeholders as well as visa holders themselves through the free Visa Entitlement Verification Online service or the myVEVO mobile app.  Airline staff use the Advance Passenger Processing system to confirm that a passenger has a valid Australian visa.

Visa holders can also provide evidence that they have the authority to enter and remain in Australia by simply showing their passport or ImmiCard linked to their electronic visa record.

Source: Migration Alliance

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Universities under fire as Chinese students fail and the desperate ones resort to cheating

Masters degree students at the University of Sydney’s prestigious business school may have to undergo a compulsory English language course after the university revealed that more than 400 students, mainly from China, failed core units of their masters’ degree.  About 37 per cent of the 1,200 students studying the Critical Thinking in Business course were given a fail grade after the first semester, and about 12 per cent of students in the Succeeding in Business course also failed, according to a report on the ABC.

The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) has weighed into the stoush between the university and the group of students who complained that the university did not prepare them properly for the course.  NTEU president Jeanie Rae said universities should resist pressure to pass under-performing students, but in this case their treatment seemed unfair.

“I think the university needs to be much more honest about it, to me holding an exam at the end of a course and then wiping the students off after they’ve already paid their money to me seems quite cynical…If the students needed greater language skills, why were these students let in and given places if there were real doubts about their capacity to successfully complete?” she said.

University of Sydney Business School Deputy Dean (Education), Professor John Shields, however said English was not the only reason some Chinese students struggled with the course.

“We do have a large number of students coming to us from bachelor degrees undertaken elsewhere, including in mainland China, where the dominant mode of learning is what we would describe as passive learning rather than critical thinking and engaged learning,” he said.

“What we’ve been seeking to do is transition students coming into our programs from that very different learning system or education values system to … the critical thinking approach. We have put in place quite systematic and comprehensive additional support for students that we identify as being at risk,” he said.

It was revealed in other media reports that at least 70 students face expulsion after being found guilty of paying the company MyMaster for writing their assignments. A University of Sydney report said that at least 16 universities have been caught in the plagiarism scandal. Yingying Dou is alleged to have charged some 1000 students at least $1000 per assignment. The website has reportedly been shut down as the universities continue with their investigations.

Source: Migration Alliance

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Melbourne ranked the world’s most liveable city for the 5th time in a row

It’s done it again, and now achieving a near perfect score in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) liveability survey of 140 cities.  Just 2.5 points off perfection, the city of Melbourne despite its unpredictable weather, has topped the EIU’s list beating the likes of Vienna, Vancouver and Toronto.

Adelaide came in fifth with a score of 96.6. Seven of the top 10 scoring cities were in Australia and Canada. Sydney came in seventh place behind Calgary, Alberta, Canada, with 96.1. It lost out to Adelaide and Melbourne due to its lower score for culture and environment, and stability.  Perth was ranked ninth with 95.9, and Auckland, New Zealand, rounded out the top 10 with 95.7. Helsinki, Finland, took eighth place.

“Those that score best tend to be mid-sized cities in wealthier countries with a relatively low population density,” the EIU report said adding that, “These can foster a range of recreational activities without leading to high crime levels or overburdened infrastructure.”

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said his government plans to maintain Melbourne’s top spot pointing to the promised investment of some 25.4 billion into the Melbourne economy to particularly improve transport infrastructure. “Melbourne has the best of everything and this title proves it…Perfect scores in health care, education and infrastructure, culture, environment and sport are all proof there’s no place like Victoria,” he said.

At the tail end of the list were cities facing civil unrest and terror threats, namely Tripoli in Libya,  Lagos in Nigeria, Port Moresby in PNG, Dhaka in Bangladesh and Damascus in Syria – which was rated the worst city in the world to live with a score of 30.6.

Source: Migration Alliance

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ATO Data Matching – Visa Holders, Sponsors & Migration Agents

The Commissioner for Taxation has gazetted a Notice of a Data Matching Program for visa holders. Gazette Notice of Data Matching Program – Immigration Visa Holders Gazette – C2015G01255  will allow the ATO to acquire the names, addresses and other details of visa holders, their sponsors and their migration agents for the 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17 financial years from the Department.

Information will be collected from an estimated 1 million visa holders and include:

  • Address history for visa applicants and sponsors
  • Contact history for visa applicants and sponsors
  • All visa grants
  • Visa grant status by point in time
  • Migration agents (visa application preparer who assisted or facilitated the processing of the visa)
  • Address history for migration agents
  • Contact history for migration agents
  • All international travel movements undertaken by visa holders (arrivals and departures)
  • Sponsor details (457 visa)
  • Education providers (educational institution where the student visa holder intends to undertake their study)
  • Visa subclass name.

This information will used to improve the integrity of visa program and compliance overall, reduce immigration fraud and assist in developing strategies to address effective operation and compliance.

Source: MIA & ATO

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