Updates on Visa Migration in Australia plus the Parliament citizenship debacle

Now that the dust has had time to settle because of the April through July 2017 raft of sweeping changes to the Migration landscape, here’s some (but not all) important points to remember:

  • Processing times have blown out for skilled migration and partner visa applications with 457’s slowly coming back to pre-April 2017 processing times;

  • Training benchmark A & B (for an SBS or ENS) have been reviewed and tightened;

  • Caveats/inapplicability conditions have been implemented on some occupations;

  • Age limits have dropped on most skilled visas from 50 to 45 max;

  • English language levels have increased for new 457’s and ENS;

  • New occupation lists are in play STSOL & MLTSSL;

  • Occupation ceilings have been reviewed and most increased for GSM;

  • Genuine position criteria have been implemented;

  • Increased use of skills assessments for trades;

  • Police clearances are mandatory for all applicants over 18 for 457’s and partner visas;

  • Visa application fees have increased by approx. 2% and now will increase incrementally with CPI in July each year;

  • All citizenship applications are on hold pending the outcome of current Bill before Parliament.

Not all the changes have had a negative impact – there are now new pathways for NZ citizens who were usually resident in Australia on or before 26 November 2016. Working Holiday maximum age was raised to 35 years (but wait for it), there are currently no countries that are participating in a bilateral agreement that specifies this.

A comprehensive list of all Labour Agreement holders is now freely available on the Department’s website. I am putting my money on this being a precursor to a list of all Standard Business Sponsors also being available on the website.

Even more so these days with the enormity of the effects of recent migration changes, do not rely on information from friends or relatives or colleagues because it worked for them. Please ensure you seek advice from a qualified Registered Migration Agent.

And don’t forget the dedicated email for migration related queries from RCSA members is rcsa@exclusivemigration.com.au. Initial enquires are free of charge. Any work undertaken for RCSA members is at negotiated reduced fees. Each case is unique so please enquire.

What’s in Migration news?

We continue to read and hear, headlines averting to ‘skills shortages’ in different industries from hospitality to trades to IT/Tech to medical and recruitment consultants, and how imperative it is for these occupations to stay open to visa applicants.

What we need to keep in mind is that the Department of Immigration together with the Department of Employment both use the same definition of a ‘skills shortage’ and draw a distinct line in the sand between that and what they both consider to be ‘difficulties in recruitment’.

It goes something like this: The later reflects not being able to find the ‘right’ person to fill a position. In other words, there skilled people available, but there is a quality gap or the available skilled people are just not applying for those jobs.

On the other hand, a skills shortage reflects two things - that the number of those who have the essential technical skills (and are not already using them) is low and secondly, that these skilled occupations have a long lead time for training to fill any shortage.

What on earth is going on in our Parliament?

Of interest over the past month or so is also the Parliamentary debacle where certain members of Parliament were ‘dobbed in’ regarding their eligibility to represent in Parliament.

Barnaby Joyce and Fiona Nash

If anyone is interested, there is a very informative article you can find here http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-18/parliament-citizenship-woes-what-on-earth-is-happening/8820688 which explains in plain English What on earth is going on in our Parliament?

You may have heard recently about Scott Ludlum and Larissa Waters (now former Green Senators); Malcolm Roberts (One Nation Senator); Matt Canavan (former National’s Minister) and Barnaby Joyce (National party, Deputy Prime Minister); and more recently Fiona Nash (National’s Senator) and Nick Xenophon, having the right to their Parliamentary seats put into question regarding their eligibility to be members of the Australian Parliament.

Basically, Section 44 of the Constitution states that if you are a citizen or subject of another country or are entitled to the rights and privileges of another country or acknowledge allegiance etc to another country, then you are ineligible to stand for a seat in the Australian Parliament.

Because of the tenuous situation our current Parliament finds itself in, depending on how the High Court rules, it could mean the House of Cards (political pun intended) could collapse. Unlike Frank Underwood, there would be no rising from the ashes or getting your wife elected, as having a spouse born overseas could also see a Parliamentarian embroiled in this issue (if being married to your overseas born spouse draws you to disqualification according to S44 above).

(I apologise to anyone who isn’t a fan of the TV series House of Cards)

The ABC article raises valid questions regarding Audits of the Parliament; who’s who in the zoo; what happens if the High Court decide certain members are in breach of S44 and what will happen to any decisions these Parliamentarians have made.

The Parliamentarians will have their eligibility to sit in parliament tested in the High Court during October 2017.

Lisa O’Hara

Managing Director

Exclusive Migration

MARN 0786010

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