Changes to the 457 visa requirements?

In February, the government started a review of the 457 visa program. The review is being undertaken by an independent panel chosen for their experience in industry, government and migration.

In 2013 there were 23,420 applications lodged, which was down by 38% from 2012. This was probably a direct result of changes in 2013 that made it much harder for business to sponsor staff.

The review is being undertaken because of the importance of the subclass 457 programme in supporting employers in industries and regions which are experiencing skill shortages, and the potential of the programme to contribute to productivity growth in the Australian economy.

As part of the review process, the Department of Immigration is now receiving submissions. Representatives of the hospitality industry are pushing hard to make it easier to get visas for chefs and cooks. The chief executive of Restaurant and Catering Australia wants the 457 visa to cover waiters and bar staff, as well as skilled chefs and managers. Foreign workers should be paid the same award rates as Australian staff. And he said kitchen staff did not need to speak English.

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

The reality is that most of the people working as cooks and chefs, and many of the kitchens, especially in ethnic cuisine, don’t use English at all. 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.

Senior officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have said that regional tourism is suffering and urgently requires workers in hotels, pubs and restaurants. As early as next year, there will be a shortage of 56,000 workers in the hospitality industry.  They have therefore backed industry calls for increased flexibility of the 457 work visas and working holiday visas.

Currently, a IELTS test score of 5 for reading, writing, speaking and listening is required. There is a good chance that this requirement will be relaxed as a result of the review.

The review will also consider changes to the following areas:

  • The list of eligible occupations
  • In what circumstances should 457 visa applicants be required to undertake an English language test
  • What types of organisations should be allowed to become sponsors?  How effective are the current restrictions on newly established business and overseas business sponsors?
  • Application fees and associated costs
  • Labour market testing and advertising requirements for sponsors
  • Are the current training benchmarks appropriate and/or adequate for ensuring that employers provide training opportunities to Australians
  • The minimum salary required
  • Is the application of a minimum salary requirement set at the appropriate level
  • Whether skills assessments are needed to ensure 457 visa holders have the skill for the nominated position

Visas granted to Indian students on the increase

The ABC reports that the number of Indian students coming to Australia is rapidly rising with the number of higher education visa applications lodged by students in India to study in Australia more than doubling from 1,987 to 4,148 in the year to September 2013.

India’s growing economy has pulled hundreds of millions of people into the middle class and has given them the means and the drive to pursue higher education, reports the ABC.

“Students are no longer just going to Australia seeking permanent residency, they are actually going there to get a quality education,” Rhian Thomas, group vice president at The Chopras education services company in New Delhi, said.

The report notes that the standard of Indian universities varies, many offer poor quality courses – for example of the half a million students who graduate from engineering degrees in India each year, only 20 per cent have the skills to be employed in the sector.

Ms Thomas says while many students may not want to study in India, they do plan to move back there eventually.

“You will also find a very large segment of the Indian student population who are looking to go overseas and then go on looking to just get one or two years work experience before coming back and implementing those skills either in the family business… or use those skills in some other way, shape or form in their career here in India,” she said.

 graph

Grant rate of student visa applications decided in the three month period between 1 July 2013 and 30 September 2013 by citizenship country and client location.

Queensland wants more migrants in their regional areas !

The Queensland Plan aims to have 50 per cent of the state?s population live outside the southeast corner by 2034.

The Courier-Mail has revealed that the Newman and Abbott governments have begun initial discussions about developing a quota system aimed at funnelling new arrivals into cities such as Cairns, Townsville and Rockhampton to promote growth.

Queensland’s Premier, Mr Campbell Newman says there is a growing need to alleviate the population pressure in the popular southeast corridor.

“I have actually already had a discussion with the Federal Immigration Minister and we will work on some sort of plan or policy together to try and get people to go as immigrants and refugees to regional Queensland,” said Mr Newman.

Mr Newman said the governments would work together with councils to consider ways to prioritise residency applications for people prepared to live in certain areas.

Queensland governments of the past have tried but failed in similar decentralisation policies as new arrivals continue to flock to Brisbane or the Sunshine Coast.

Poor infrastructure and jobs have been cited as the reasons for this. However Mr Newman says that his Government will start positively discriminating its infrastructure priorities in order to develop regional Queensland. There are also plans to redirect certain state public services to regional Queensland.

About 100,000 people move to Queensland each year including some 30,000 overseas migrants. The state’s population is predicted to rise from 4.5 million to eight million in 30 years.

There has never been a better time than now to apply for a student visa !!!

It looks the dust has finally settled over the uncertainties in immigration policy and negative press in overseas newspapers of visa prospects and life in Australia for international students. No doubt the drop in the Australian dollar and its predicted further slide has helped once again raise interest in an Australian education.

Education remains a key export earner for Australia with an estimated export revenue of $15 billion a year. International business consultancy Deloitte has reported that Global demand for educational services is about to soar and is expected to swell by about 7% a year between now and 2020.

?Teaching foreign students is Australia?s fourth-biggest export earner, generating $15 billion a year in income and employing about 100,000 Australians. Growth in this industry has increased expertise and infrastructure, creating economies of scale over and above those usually available to a nation of 23 million people,? reports Deloite.

Recent DIBP data shows that 74,019 foreigners applied to study in Australia during the three months to September 2013 – a 7 per cent jump year-on-year, and the highest number of quarterly applications in four years.

Chinese students fuelled the increase, with a 20 per cent rise in the number applying to study in universities and TAFE colleges.

Interest from Indian students more than doubled, with 4148 applications in the three months to September 2013, compared to just 1987 applications a year earlier

Australia now has 346,965 international students – a quarter of them from China and nearly 10 per cent from India.

Australia will need more migrants!

Australia’s productivity is steadily slipping down and will continue to do so if skilled migration numbers are not increased quickly.

The current migration intake of 190,000 a year is not enough to sustain productivity, says the Australian Industry Group (AIG). It says that Australia needs a steady increase in migration intake every year with an emphasis on skilled migration in order to meet current and future skills shortages.

The AIG has proposed that the Federal government needs to act immediately to substantially increase the immigration intake in the upcoming budget by at least 15% to 220,000 to meet the current skills shortage.

The AIG?s chief executive Innes Willox says now is the right time to accelerate skilled migration given Australia’s ageing workforce and skills shortages in industries including mining, construction, engineering and health.

“This proposed increase takes into account the proven benefits to the economy of a strong migration program.  An increase in migrant numbers supports positive growth in our population and especially in our adult workforce, which is important due to relatively low rates of natural population growth.  A higher skilled migration intake is appropriate at present due to Australia’s historically low (albeit growing) unemployment rates; the deepening impacts of our ageing workforce (with 9% of all Australian employees now aged 60 or over and 17% aged 55 or over); and persistent skill shortages in key growth industries including mining services, engineering, infrastructure and health services.

“The Australian Workplace Productivity Agency has identified that Australia will need an increase of about 2.8 million people with quite specific skills over the next decade to fill some of those gaps,” he said.

A recent AIG construction sector surveys indicated that during the six months to September 2013, 67.7% of respondents reported either major or moderate difficulty in the recruitment of skilled labour (up from 65.7% six months ago). The sourcing of sub-contractors was also a dominant supply constraint with 47.1% citing major or moderate difficulty (up from 43.8%).

The skill shortages situation is even more serious in relation to occupations requiring Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) skills. The occupations where there are shortages due to low STEM levels, as illustrated by a recent AIG report: technicians and trade workers (41%), professional (26.6%) and managers (26.3%).

‘This is deeply concerning considering the Office of the Chief Scientist recently reported that 75% of the fastest growing occupations require STEM skills and knowledge.’

The Ai Group says further increases from the 220,000 level may be needed in future years, despite unemployment currently sitting at 5.8 per cent and tipped to rise well above 6 per cent by Treasury, the Reserve Bank and many private sector forecasters.

Mr Willox says while there are Australians without work, there are not enough skilled workers for a range of specialist occupations, with the AIG singling out residential construction as an area of acute shortages.

He says increasing education and training is a desirable long-term solution, but immigration is a useful stop gap measure.

“We’ve seen Australia slipping down the tables when it comes to those basic skills around our science, technology, engineering, mathematics skills.”

Tourism Australia’s new-and-improved ‘There’s Nothing Like Australia’ app

If you’re planning a trip Down Under, you may want to talk to Frank Lanza Migration Services about your options for immigration visas.

You may also want to download Tourism Australia’s new-and-improved ‘There’s Nothing Like Australia’ app, which will provide you with all the information you need to make your stay in our country a memorable one.

It’s available in five different languages: English, Mandarin, German, Cantonese and Korean.

The original version of the app was launched in June 2012. It has since undergone a variety of improvements, courtesy of PadWorx Digital Media Inc.

This innovative business used feedback from users of the previous app, as well as “new research and extensive usability testing” to figure out what alterations needed to be made.

‘There’s Nothing Like Australia’ now contains information about a much broader range of destinations in Australia, including Hobart, Adelaide, Darwin, Perth and Kakadu.

Those who download the app will discover what the best places to stay in these regions are and what kind of events and activities are happening throughout the year.

This will allow them to plan ahead and make the most of their time in Australia.

In addition to this, users are able to customise the app so the content it displays is tailored to their own preferences and tastes.

For example, if you want a beach-centric holiday, you can instruct the app to keep its focus on Australia’s many magnificent beaches. The same can be done for food and wine, the outback and a range of other topics.

Tourism Australia Managing Director Andrew McEvoy said in an October 21 statement that the revamp was all about making this product more personalised, easier to navigate and better to use.

“We broke new ground when we launched this app back in June 2012, but it was always our intention that this would be something that we would evolve, in terms of content, functionality and usability,” explained Mr McEvoy.

‘There’s Nothing Like Australia’ also integrates Google Maps and an assortment of social media platforms, so people can share their experiences with friends and family back home.

So, if you would like some holiday ideas and recommendations, download the ‘There’s Nothing Like Australia’ app (for free) today!

Immigration Department Website changes

Please note that Immigration has made some further changes to the department website which will go live on 7 December 2013. From that date on  the department will be expanding its 100% electronic health processing arrangements

. The following are the key web pages that will be updated in December:

http://www.immi.gov.au/allforms/health-requirements/arranging-health-exam.htm

http://www.immi.gov.au/allforms/health-requirements/electronic-health-processing.htm

http://www.immi.gov.au/allforms/health-requirements/my-health-declarations.htm

Government announces new 457 visa labour market testing rules

The government announced today it will adopt a sensible approach to the implementation of new rules requiring employers to test the local labour market before seeking to employ an overseas worker on a subclass 457 visa.
Read more »

DIAC Name Change

Due to the government change and the departments roles change, name of the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) has been changed into the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP).

The detail is written in an article on the DIBP website as follows.

http://www.immi.gov.au/about/dept-info/mog.htm

 

 

Visa Application Charges increased from 1st of September 2013

New visa pricing arrangements was introduced on 1 September 2013. This affected the visas applications costs.  All visas applications costs were increased for 15 percents approximately except for Student (Temporary) (Class TU) visas and Tourist (Class TR) visas.

If you have further questions please contact Franklanza Migration Services.