September 2017 - News, Views & Clues from Migration Plus
In this month's issue, we review proposed changes to Australian citizenship requirements, talk about the government's crackdown on employer sponsors and take a look at some new legislation and revealing statistics. In addition we are proud to announce that our founder and Principal Agent has received a prestigious award!
Dr Chris White: MIA Life Membership Award
We are proud to announce that the founder and Principal Agent of Migration Plus, Dr Christopher White, has been awarded Life Membership of the Migration Institute of Australia (MIA), the professional association for Australian migration service providers.
| Chris has been a member of the MIA for 25 years, during which time he has served as a member of the executive, as well as being a CPD provider, a lecturer in Migration Law at the ANU, and a popular speaker at migration seminars, industry meetings and conferences.
Chris has been providing migration advice since 1986, and has helped thousands of people to successfully reach their migration goals. In addition, he has nurtured the careers of numerous migration agents who look to him as their mentor.
Congratulations Chris on this well-deserved award!
|| In our last newsletter, we mentioned that the Australian Government has announced upcoming changes to the requirements for Australian citizenship.
In its current form, the Australian Citizenship Bill 2017 includes requirements that citizenship applicants:
- have permanent residence of Australia for four years prior to applying (currently only one year is required);
| - complete an English language test to demonstrate competency in reading and writing;
- demonstrate knowledge of Australian values and the responsibilities of citizenship via questions added to the citizenship test.
Should Parliament pass the Bill, these changes will take effect as of 20 April 2017, meaning that all applications lodged from that date will be affected.
The Senate Legal Constitutional Affairs Committee recently released its report on its inquiry into the Bill, and has recommended that the Government:
1) clarify the standard of English required, noting that it should not be so high that it excludes those who are able to be valuable members of the community despite having a more basic competency;
2) consider replacing a proposed two-year ban on applications by those who have failed the citizenship test 3 times with an arrangement that allows additional tests on a cost-recovery basis that would deter non-genuine applicants;
3) consider adding transitional provisions to allow applicants who were permanent residents on or before 20 April 2017 to meet current residency requirements.
The Committee further recommended that the Senate pass the Bill.
||The Australian Government has introduced new legislation that will allow it to 'name and shame' employers who fail to meet their obligations as the sponsors of skilled workers.
Currently, the DIBP may only publish limited information regarding employer sponsors' breaches of their obligations.
| However, the proposed new law will allow the DIBP to publicly provide details of the company involved and any penalties issued. In addition, it will allow the DIBP to collect, record, store and use tax file numbers (TFNs) linked to temporary and permanent skilled visas, in order to monitor compliance with sponsor obligations and visa conditions.
This demonstrates how critical it is that employer sponsors ensure that they comply with all relevant obligations, including the requirement to pay sponsored workers in accordance with their contracts.
||As previously announced, in March 2018 the subclass 457 visa will be abolished and replaced by the Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa, comprising:
- a Short-Term stream for applicants with occupations on the STSOL, 2+ years of relevant experience and a minimum of IELTS 5 with 4.5 in each component (visa valid for up to 2 years);
| - a Medium-Term stream for applicants with occupations on the MLTSSL, 2+ years of relevant experience and a minimum of IELTS 5 in each component (visa valid for up to 4 years).
Importantly for sponsors, the current training benchmark system will also be abolished. Instead, employers who wish to sponsor TSS visa applicants must pay an annual foreign worker levy, which will go into the new Skilling Australians Fund (designed to train Australian workers in new skills).
The 2017-2018 Budget indicates that businesses with an annual revenue of less than $10 million will be required to make a payment of $1,200 per year for each worker sponsored for TSS visa. Businesses with an annual revenue of more than $10 million will be required to pay $1,800 per year for each worker sponsored.
The Budget also provides that businesses will be required to make one-off payments to the Skilling Australians Fund for each worker nominated for a permanent subclass 186 Employer Nomination Scheme or subclass 187 Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme visa. The one-off payment will be $3,000 for businesses with an annual revenue of less than $10 million, and $5,000 for businesses with an annual revenue of more than $10 million.
||The DIBP has recently been interpreting legislation and policy very strictly with respect to employer nominations and sponsorship.
In particular, it has been refusing applications where insufficient documents have been provided, without requesting additional information.
|It is crucial that ALL employers who are sponsoring and/or nominating workers for skilled visas provide documents regarding their business upfront.
As qualified and experienced migration agents, we are able to guide employers as to the nature and extent of documents required to support an application. In turn, it is critically important that employers provide the documents requested in as timely a manner as possible, in order to ensure that their applications have the best possible chance of success.
||The latest 2016 Census data shows that international migrants provide stability to the regional areas in which they settle.
Research conducted with the Regional Australia Institute demonstrates that migrants are a vital asset for building regional economies and communities, in the face of a declining local population.
| There has been a concerted effort by the Government in recent years to attract more international migrants to regional areas. The majority of migrants are skilled workers able to fill shortages and gaps, including doctors and nurses. Some undertake unskilled work that local workers are unwilling to carry out, for example in abattoirs and poultry plants. Many international migrants are young and have the potential to to build families and continue to work in regional communities.
Please see here for the full article on migrant contribution to regional communities, and the importance of continuing to foster this growth going forward.
||Between January and June 2017, there were more than 3 million enrolments by international students in different education sectors (including schools, vocational education, higher education and ELICOS) in Australia.
The top 5 contributors by country were:
1) China (921,183)
2) India (346,522)
3) Malaysia (133,715)
|4) Vietnam (125,547)
5) Nepal (122,508)
During this period there were a total of 510,348 students in Australia on a Student visa, which represented growth of 14%.
See here for the full article regarding these statistics.
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