Migration Agents Warn Against Visa Category Overhaul

The government’s plans to cut down the categories will lead to more application knock-backs, one of the migration agents has told SBS News.

Migration agents have warned against the Turnbull government’s plans for a major visa overhaul to drastically reduce the number of categories on offer, saying it would impact the success rate for applicants. The Coalition is waiting on advice from the Department of Home Affairs on how to cut the current 99 visa categories down to 10 in what would be the single biggest immigration change in more than two decades. “It’s going to be very difficult to handle all of the applications, the type of applications that 99 visa categories handle, and narrow them down to ten visa subclasses,” Canberra migration agent Jason Browne told SBS News. Mr Browne believes that with fewer categories applicants will be more likely to go it alone with their paperwork and it will undoubtedly result in more visa rejections. “Immigration law is not easy. Individuals and businesses doing their own visa applications … there is going to be an increase in refusals and appeals,” he said.

Simplifying the system

The Home Affairs Department’s rationale for the move is to curb rising net overseas migration and reduce the cost of the “ill-suited” visa system which it has labelled “an artefact of a bygone era”. On its website, it argues that a more flexible system would help the government to ‘attract new and better migrants where they arise’. By comparison, the United States has an even more complication system with some 185 different types of visas available. According to department figures, the volume of visa and citizenship applications is forecast to increase by around 50 per cent within the next 10 years, to around 13 million applications annually. Param Jaswal, managing director at the Imperial College of Australia, has been navigating the visa system for more than 20 years to enable foreign students to study in Australia. “It’s still very complicated for an individual to go through the number of subclasses on the Immigration Department website and just to identify which subclass will suit their particular requirement … it becomes very complex,” he told SBS News.

Further changes ahead

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton announced the government’s intention to shake up the visa categories last year. The government then accepted public submissions over a seven-week period, receiving a total of 255. A summary of the public consultation process suggests there is strong support for a visa system that is “easy to navigate”. Even so, the majority of those who put in submissions to the government-backed “the retention of some kind of pathway from temporary to permanent residence”. It follows a number of changes in recent years that have reduced the opportunities for migrants to gain permanent residency in Australia including reforms to the popular 457 skilled visa program. Also under consideration is a new provisional visa system that would not afford applicants the same access to welfare payments and services that permanent residents are currently entitled to. “This is a huge change,” Anna Boucher, senior lecturer in public policy and political science at the University of Sydney, told SBS News. “It could see a wholesale change in what visa categories we have and secondly a fundamental shift from Australia as a country of permanent settlement to one where temporary migration is more and more the status quo.” While Labor supports the idea of simplifying the visa system in principle, shadow immigration minister Shayne Neumann said closing off pathways to permanent residency could create an “underclass” of migrants in Australia. “The government looks like it’s got an agenda here,” he told SBS News. ”Who can argue against visa simplification? But if it’s a method by which the government tries to create an underclass in the country, that’s not a good thing”. This article “Migration Agent Warn Against Visa Category Overhaul” and written by: SBS NEWS by Marija Zivic on 01/04/2018

Caseload Update- How Is The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) Tracking?

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal continues to exceed the Key Performance Indicator of finalising at least 75 per cent of applications within 12 months of lodgement, finalising 82 per cent in the first half of 2017-18.

The AAT received 29,537 lodgements in this period, 16 per cent higher than the same period in 2016-17. Most notably, lodgements in the Migration and Refugee Division (MRD) were up 51 per cent compared to the same six months in 2016-17, while there were 27 per cent fewer lodgements in the Social Security & Child Support Division (SSCSD).

Of the lodgements received in the first half of this financial year, 64 per cent were to the MRD, 23 per cent were to SSCSD and 13 per cent were to the six remaining divisions.

The AAT has finalised 19,602 applications in the first half of 2017-18, similar to the number in the same period in 2016-17.  23.5 per cent of applications were finalised by a decision to change the reviewable decision. This figure has been relatively steady over the last two years. Of the 130 ‘character related’ visa decisions made during this period, 19 per cent (31) were set aside. These decisions relate to visa refusals or cancellations.

The AAT’s on hand caseload has continued to grow, now at over 44,000 applications. The majority of cases on hand are less than 12 months old.

The number of active MRD cases from applicants in Sydney and Melbourne continued to increase dramatically, contributing to an increase of over 5,000 cases, or 18 per cent overall, during the period.

This article was sourced from : Administrative Appeals Tribunal on 22/03/2018

Australia To Offer Highly-Skilled Migrants New Visa For Jobs Over $180,000

The federal government will make it easier for highly-skilled migrants and those working for STEM start-ups to come to Australia.

The Turnbull government will create a new visa to compete with other countries for “high-tech skills and talent”, with companies allowed to sponsor migrants for jobs paid more than $180,000. There will also be a new visa for start-up companies seeking talent in STEM fields like bio-medicine and agricultural technology. Both visas will require the migrant to have three years of relevant experience, while the sponsor companies will need to demonstrate they tried to hire Australians first.

“The Government recognises there is fierce competition globally for high-tech skills and talent, and that attracting these people helps to transfer skills to Australian workers and grow Australian-based businesses,” a Turnbull government media release reads. There will not be a cap on the overall number of visas, but individual companies will have a limit on how many migrants they can employ. Businesses will be able to take up to 20 skilled migrants under the new stream per year, while start-ups will be able to take up to five.

The visas for jobs paid more than $180,000 will only be available to businesses with a turnover of more than $4 million. The start-up visas will be available to any that is authorised by an industry body, yet to be chosen by the government. The migrants will have the option of a “transitional pathway” to permanent residence after three years in the country. The details of the scheme will be ironed out over the next few months before a 12-month pilot begins on July 1.

Start-ups hail win after 457 changes left industry reeling

The need for visa changes to attract high-value employees from overseas has been the “number one priority” in the emerging startup sector, according to an industry group.

StartupAUS chief executive Alex McCauley said the government’s changes to 457 temporary work visas last year, which restricted the list of occupations and cut off the path to permanent residency for many jobs, had made it harder for start-ups to compete. “The single biggest challenge for Australian start-ups is getting access to the best talent in the world,” Mr McCauley told SBS News. “It got more difficult when the 457 visa announcements were made last year and start-ups in this country are really crying out for a way to get access to talent.” “Everybody’s looking to hire product managers, software engineers, digital growth specialists, data scientists.”

Mr McCauley said the jobs in question were highly specialised and the visa workers were unlikely to take jobs away from Australians. “They’re hiring people at a very high skill level in a space where there aren’t a huge number of Australians competing for those jobs,” he said. “And the Australians that are competing for those jobs are getting jobs.”

Alan Tudge, Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, said the visas required companies to seek Australian workers first. “We want to ensure that Australian businesses can access the best talent in the world because this will underpin business growth, skills transfer and job creation,” Mr Tudge said. “At all stages, Australians are prioritised for the jobs, but where the skills and experience are not available here, we want to be able to attract talent from overseas.”

Labor claims policy inspired by opposition

Labor released a statement accusing the government of “playing catch up” on special visas for skilled migrants. The opposition proposed a four-year “SMART visa” for workers in “science, medicine, academia, research and technology” last year. “Turnbull and his conservatives are playing catch up and following Labor’s lead,” the press release reads. “Turnbull’s scheme is only a pilot and, by the Government’s own admission, they haven’t finalised the details of the pilot including the number of visas set to be made available or which specific jobs they’ll be available for.”

This article was sourced and written by: SBS NEWS by James Elton-Pym on 19/03/2018

Can New Visa Scheme Turn Australia Into A ‘Start-Up Hotspot’?

A new visa aims to entice start-up talent to our shores from places like Silicon Valley.

A new visa aimed at attracting international talent to Australian start-ups has been hailed as a “game changer” by an industry expert.The Turnbull government announced two new “Global Talent Scheme” visa categories on Monday – including one specifically aimed at bringing international talent to Australian start-ups. The visa recipient must have at least three years work experience in a STEM-related field while the sponsor companies will need to demonstrate they tried to hire Australians first.

Chief executive of start-up advocacy group StartupAus Alex McCauley told SBS News the new visa will mean Australian start-ups can now “attract talent from around the world”. Previously, he said, start-ups were often unable to qualify to be an accredited visa sponsor. And when they did, many professions that start-ups needed were not on the visa occupation lists.

“It was either too difficult for a lot of start-ups or simply there was no mechanism for getting the right staff in,” he said. Mr McCauley said there were several key positions that start-ups will now likely try and lure from overseas.

“The biggest one we hear that start-ups need is digital product manager… Someone who is in charge of putting the vision together for that product, understanding the product’s customers, designing the whole thing and managing it.” He said other professions Australian start-ups will recruit from overseas are senior software engineers, digital growth specialists, UX and UI designers and data scientists. He said Australian start-ups will look to draw talent from “places where they’ve really been doing this for a while”.

“So that means the big start-up hotspots (like) Silicon Valley, Austin in Texas, Tel Aviv in Israel and London.”

“I think this could be a gamechanger for a lot of young companies.”

“We keep telling these businesses we want them to compete on the global stage. But to do that, they need to access the best talent in the world. Now they can get that.”

This article was sourced and written by: SBS NEWS by Nick Baker on 20/03/2018

New Global Talent Visa Pilot

A new Global Talent Visa pilot is due to commence on 1 July 2018. This Visa will be part of the Temporary Skill Shortage – Subclass 482 and will allow you to apply for permanent residency after 3 years of employer. There will be two streams: established business and start ups. Established businesses with an annual turnover of more than $4 million will be able to sponsor highly skilled and experienced individuals for positions earning above $180,000. Technology based and STEM related start up businesses will also be able to sponsor experienced people with specialised technology skills.
An information sheet has been produced with further details on the pilot scheme

TSS Sponsorship Accreditation

Benefits of Sponsorship Accreditation
As part of the changes in March 2018, the Department has announced that Accredited Sponsors will receive:

  • Priority processing of visa and nomination applications
  • Streamlined processing of lower risk nominations (including potential auto-approval of streamlined nomination applications)
  • Processing times of 5 days or less[1]

Although processing times are unknown for the new to-be-released TSS visa, the processing times for its similar predecessor, Subclass 457 can be more than 11 months.[2] Therefore, the auto-approval and shorter processing times to be introduced for TSS accredited sponsorship is extremely beneficial; potentially allowing you to bring an overseas worker to work for your business within one (1) week.

Who can apply for Sponsorship Accreditation?

  • Commonwealth and State/Territory Government or Statutory Entities
  • Australian Trusted Traders
  • Low Risk Sponsor with low volume usage and high percentage of Australian workers
  • Low risk sponsor with high volume usage and medium percentage of Australian workers

Case Officers will be provided with new discretion to grant accredited sponsorship for partnerships and start up businesses (certain circumstances apply).

To find out more information on whether you could be eligible for TSS Sponsorship Accreditation, please contact our experienced migration agents now on +61756611431 or admin@immigrationplus.com.au

[1] Information obtained from TSS Roadshow Slide released by Department of Home Affairs, March 2018

[2] https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/about/access-accountability/service-standards/global-visa-citizenship-processing-times

THE NEW TEMPORARY SKILL SHORTAGE (TSS) – SUBCLASS 482 VISA

Dear HR Managers, as we all know, the new TSS visa (subclass 482) will be introduced to replace the subclass 457 that will be abolished.

The Department, over the past few months, has provided many updates about transitional arrangement and what the changes will be. Here, we provide you with summary of the changes and outline how the new TSS will look like.

Temporary Skill Shortage – Subclass 482 Visa

The current subclass 457 visa will be abolished in the first half of March 2018, and the new TSS visa will be introduced. There are three (3) streams with the TSS Visa, namely:

  • Short-Term Stream – STSOL
  • Medium-Term Stream – MLTSSL
  • Labour Agreement

The following are some details that you need to know:

Short-Term Stream – STSOL

  • Only occupations on STSOL (Short-term skilled occupation list) will be eligible
  • Duration: up to 2 years, might be renewed once for a further 2 years (max stay of 4 years)
  • No pathway to permanent residency under employer-sponsored program
  • English: IELTS score of 5.0 (min score in each band of 4.5), or equivalent
  • Application fee: primary visa applicant ($1,150), sponsorship ($420), nomination ($330)

Medium-Term Stream – MLTSSL

  • Only occupations on MLTSSL (Medium and long-term skilled occupation list) will be eligible
  • Duration: up to 4 years
  • Eligible for permanent residency after 3 years
  • English: IELTS score of 5.0 (min score in each band of 5.0), or equivalent
  • Application fee: primary visa applicant ($2,400), sponsorship ($420), nomination ($330)

Sponsorship

  • Duration: all sponsorship approval will be for 5 years (even for start-ups)
  • One lifetime TRN will be introduced to be used when renewing sponsorship
  • Introduction of automated nomination approvals and priority processing In 5 days or less
  • Sponsors can renew the sponsorship online, 2 months before it expires

Nomination

  • Occupation must be listed in the relevant occupation list at time of application – this will not be looked into at the visa stage
  • Work experience requirements: applicants need to have 2 years of relevant work experience (applicable to medium term and short term)
  • Mandatory LMT (Labour Market Testing) for all applications – except in a case where ITO (International Trade Obligations) applies. Gumtree advertisement will no longer be accepted
  • LMT must be done for a minimum duration (no specific requirement released yet)
  • Introduction of GTE (Genuine Temporary Entrant) requirements for STSOL occupations (which means the applicants need to show that they intend to leave Australia on completion of their TSS visa)

Other Points to Take Note

  • For 457 visa holders, they cannot apply for TSS visa if the occupation is removed from STSOL or MLTSSL
  • For occupation on STSOL, applicant cannot lodge onshore twice. They must go offshore to lodge the second application
  • Introduction of ASMR (Annual Market Salary Rate) in addition to TSMIT requirements
  • Mandatory skills assessment will be included in an Instrument
  • TSS nomination cannot be linked to a 457 visa application, and vice versa
  • Decision ready applications – these applications will be processed faster, within 2 months
  • Applications with no document – will be refused in 2 days
  • Applicants with ‘no further stay’ condition on their visa will not be able to apply for TSS
  • New condition 8607 replacing the 8107 – applicants who wants to change occupation are required to have new nomination approved and a new
  • visa granted before they can start work in the new occupation. But they can start work with the new employer when a new nomination is approved.

AFFECTED 457 VISA HOLDERS ARE NOT ELIGIBLE TO APPLY FOR PR

In March, the existing Subclass 457 visa will be abolished a new Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa will be introduced.

WHAT IS THE ISSUE?

From early March, the Subclass 186 Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) stream requirement of having held a Subclass 457 visa in a related nominated occupation for at least 2 years will increase to 3 years.

NB: Extract from Department’s website (click on the image)

If you currently hold a Subclass 457 visa granted for an occupation, or have a pending Subclass 457 visa application, on the Short Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) (which can only be granted for a maximum of 2 years), according to the announcements (click to follow link) made by the Department of Home Affairs, it appears that you may no longer be eligible for permanent residency through the TRT Stream of Subclass 186 after March 2018 when the new laws will come into effect.

ARE THERE ANY SOLUTIONS?

From analyzing all information recently announced by the Department, we recently discovered that there may be a way to meet the new three-year requirement should you ‘renew’ your Subclass 457 visa now. This is because the Department announced that they will continue to process any complete 457 nomination AND visa applications lodged prior to the end of February 2018 under the existing framework.

NB: Extract from Department’s website (click on the image)

According to the Department’s published processing times, it will roughly take 7 to 10 months for the ‘renewal’ to be processed (provided the application is complete). Therefore, in theory whilst holding your existing 457 visa, it may be stretched to over three years if the subsequent 457 visa is granted.

NB: Extract from Department’s website (click on the image)

No Direct Pathway To Permanent Residency

An announcement for plans to introduce a MANDATORY provisional visa prior to being granted permanent visas was first released through a discussion paper released on 31 July 2017. There was an SBS article reporting this here:

In January of this year, there were reports saying that this proposed plan may take effect in 2018. This means that prospective migrants will no longer be eligible for any subclasses offering a direct pathway to permanent residency. Instead, they will have to spend a certain period of time on a mandatory provisional visa before they can be eligible for permanent residency.

NB: Extract from ME Alliance Website (click on the image)

Under current laws, you may still lodge applications for permanent residency directly. In our experience, and from our current understanding of what has been announced, there is no intention to introduce a retrospective effect upon these laws. Therefore, you may apply for permanent residency and if, and when, the new laws apply, this will not affect your pending permanent residency application. However, we emphasise that time is of the essence with such applications as the Department has, in the past, made sudden announcements which leave us with very little time to react.

Plans To Change Citizenship Laws Before July

SBS recently published this article, to announce that the Government are, once again, planning to tighten Australian citizenship requirements. This is planned to take effect from 01 July 2018.

What are the Proposed Changes?

The proposed changes are speculated to increase residency requirements, a new process for determining an applicant’s integration into the community, changes to the citizenship test, etc. For more information you can view the Australian Citizenship Legislation Amendment (Strengthening the Commitments for Australian Citizenship and Other Measures) Bill 2018 that was released on 07 February 2018. The changes include:

  • The 1-year residency requirement will be changed to 8 years residency requirement;
  • Requirement of English to be at competency level
  • The special consideration to waive residency requirement will be removed.

What is Retrospective Effect?

For the purpose of this subject, ‘retrospective effect’ means that even if you lodge an application before the law is passed, your application will unfortunately be required to meet the requirements of the new laws which prejudicially eliminates any chance of success. An example of the Australian government applying such laws can be seen last April 2017 where the Department of Home Affairs (formerly known as Department of Immigration and Border Protection), published an alarming notice on its website sometime in the 2nd half of 2017 confirming that all applications for citizenship lodged after the announcement made by the Minister for Immigration in April 2017 will be assessed under new laws. This notice was confidently published despite the fact that the laws were still being reviewed and not passed yet by the Parliament. Upon reviewing the bill, we found the same retrospective clause contained where it were passed, reinforced the astonishing notice published on the Department’s website. Another example of such unreasonable practice which is more current, can been seen on the impending changes to the employer sponsored migration program. Without notice, the Department announced that it will increase the eligibility requirements for PR for 457 visa holders from 2 years to 3 years before being eligible for permanent residency. However, applicants who lodged or held a subclass 457 before April 2017 would not be affected by these changes.

What did we learn from the Past?

Last year, the Department stopped processing applications as they waited for the Parliament to pass the law. This aggrieved many of our clients who put in their application in early 2017, leaving them feeling uncertain with their future particularly where the delays with processing applications were dragged out as long as the arduously dragged out debates before the Parliament.

What if you do not meet the Eligibility Requirements?

Under the current citizenship laws, there are methods to waive certain requirements. This office has helped numerous clients with applications where they have not met residency requirements, such having resided in Australia for at least 4 years or having reside in Australia for at least 1 year as a holder of a PR. We are also in the midst of helping clients who have not even held PR for 1 month in their application for citizenship.
Next Step

For more information about your circumstances, Admin of our office has been specially appointed to deal with urgent and complex cases. Please email him at admin@immigrationplus.com.au or +61756611431 immediately.