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Posted by Myer on Jan. 22, 2021, 10:34 a.m. in Australia
In summer I enjoy one of the benefits of living in Melbourne and cycle to the office along the waterfront. That’s why “summer Myer” is considerably thinner than “winter Myer”. Because Melbourne spent most of 2020 in lockdown my only exercise consisted of walking to and from the refrigerator and summer Myer is yet to emerge, but as I cycled to my office for the first time in a year I couldn’t help but notice how empty the city is and wondered whether it would ever return to pre-Covid levels of activity.
The Australian Government has been trying to encourage immigrants to move to regional Australia (regional Australia is anywhere outside metropolitan Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane) to alleviate increasing pressure on infrastructure, services, and congestion in the major cities. In previous immigration years, approximately 60 – 70% of migrants have immigrated to Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane resulting in inflated property prices, increased traffic on roads and in the city, and putting pressure on the education and healthcare sectors within those cities. The government has always had a regional visa program that had some concessions that encouraged new residents to move to regional areas, with new changes implemented in November 2019 further promoting the regional scheme.
Some of our clients initially expressed resistance to the idea of embracing the concept of regional Australia even though there are several large cities considered to be regional most notably Perth (population approximately 2 million), Adelaide (population approximately 1.4 million), Canberra (population approximately 500,000), Hobart (population approximately 300,000) to name just a few. However, with more Australians migrating out of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane to more regional locations I think that there will be a boost in economic activity in regional Australia as a result of both the greater number of migrants relocating to the cities, as well as Australians embracing regional Australia in greater numbers.
We were told by social commentators at various points during the lockdown, following the 2 waves of corona virus infections Melbourne endured, that the pandemic would change the world in many different ways, one of them being the way we work and live.
With many embracing the ability to work from home, the demand for bigger homes has translated to increases in property prices in regional Australia. After all, why work in a cramped apartment in Melbourne when you could buy a three bedroom home with land in regional Australia for a similar price.
With the rollout of high-speed broadband in regional Australia, one doesn't need to sacrifice productivuty by working in regional Australia and whilst I choose to cycle to work in summer, many commyters don't that that ability and face long trips to the city in cars or public transport.
It's not difficult to see the appeal of regional Australia and this has translated to increases in property prices.
Regional house prices in Australia have risen at a higher annual rate than in capital cities for the first time in more than 15 years, as COVID-19 increases people's desire to live outside the bigger cities of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
Regional prices grew almost 7 per cent compared to 2 per cent growth for capital cities during 2020. It’s been 17 years since regional property prices outperformed property prices in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane (Metropolitan Australia).
The regional areas that received most attention from buyers with those that were only a few hours’ drive from major capital cities, such as the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Geelong, Daylesford, Ballarat, Wollongong, and Newcastle.
By living in places located a few hours from the major cities people can almost have the best of both worlds by enjoying the lifestyle benefits and lower prices of regional Australia, as well is the ability to commute back to the office if they need to.
The challenge to regional cities past has been creating enough employment opportunities and quite unexpectedly the trend generated by Covid to more remote working may have presented a solution.
Suddenly, the potential of digital technology for working remotely is being embraced. Many people could live in regional cities while working remotely for employers elsewhere.
Increased house prices are just the first portent of increased economic activity in regional Australia. With greater demand for housing comes increased construction and all of the follow-on economic activity pertaining to hospitality, tourism (albeit domestic) education, healthcare et cetera all of which are creating increased employment opportunities for a far greater and more diverse skill set for migrants in regional Australia.
I would be suggesting to anyone considering migrating to Australia to strongly consider regional visa options which are generally easier than the visas aimed at metropolitan Australia. Generally more occupations are suitable for regional migration, and regional state sponsorship is worth more points.
In the unlikely event that you don’t enjoy life in regional Australia and want to move to Metropolitan Australia, the level of commitment to living in regional Australia is relatively short. Only three years of residence and work in regional Australia is required for you to be able to apply for a permanent resident visa which would allow you to live and work in Metropolitan Australia.
As many Australians have discovered there is much more to Australia than Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane and there is growing trend on the part of Australians to embrace regional life. Perhaps you should too.
Posted by Myer on Dec. 4, 2020, 11:05 a.m. in Australia
“It’s December already, where has the year gone to?” is a common comment at this time of year but this particular year we know where we spent much of our time – isolated in our homes. It’s a year demarcated by isolation and stagnation from an economic and social perspective and next year can only be better. This is also true in terms of immigration policy which left very little to cheer about in 2020 but the outlook for 2021 has to be brighter.
In terms of the year that’s been, things turned sour fairly early on with Australia calling Covid 19 a pandemic prior to the announcement by the World Trade Organisation and essentially closed its borders on 20 March 2020 with exemptions for only Australian citizens, permanent residence and their immediate family.
In May we would normally receive the Federal Government’s budget announcement including details relating to the annual migration quota however this decision was postponed until October. This delay is why state sponsorship lists, which are normally produced in July were postponed until such time as the government finalised the migration quota so that they could decide on the number of migrants each state could sponsor.
Many of our clients overseas applying for general skilled migration visas are dependent upon the production of state sponsorship lists but as I write this these state allocations have yet to be finalised. All indications are that it should happen soon and we expect state sponsorship list to be produced later this month.
Delays associated with state sponsorship lists have meant that many of our clients who had obtained English-language tests and positive skills assessment have had to essentially tread water for much of this year. Even those offshore applicants who had filed general skilled migration visa applications have had to wait as priority was given to those already in Australia. With 36,000 Australians stranded overseas the government hardly wanted to add to the number of permanent residents overseas wanting to gain access to Australia by approving offshore cases hence the focus on processing applications made while the candidate was in Australia.
I’m sure that 2021 will however be a brighter year in terms of migration to Australia. There are several Covid 19 vaccines in production and Australia has entered into five separate agreements for the supply of Covid 19 vaccines if they are proven to be safe and effective.
Our interstate borders have been relaxed and it is now possible to travel anywhere in Australia except Western Australia and that’s set to change next week. In terms of our national border Australia already has quarantine-free travel arrangements with New Zealand and is working towards establishing similar arrangements with other low-risk countries such as Japan, Singapore and South Korea.
Towards the middle of next year, we should see a gradual return of some of the 120,000 international students who remain stranded overseas and of course July of next year demarcates the beginning of another immigration year with the publication of more state sponsorship lists.
The number and variety of occupations appearing on state sponsorship lists usually mirror economic activity in a particular state and relevantly the federal government is providing $257 billion in direct economic support to cushion the blow and strengthen the recovery. The 2020 – 21 budget commits a further $98 billion including $25 billion in direct Covid 19 response measures and $74 billion in new measures to create jobs bringing the government’s overall support to $507 billion. Other stimulatory measures such as tax reform, quantitative easing, and record low interest rates will no doubt have the desired effect of stimulating the Australian economy and, as the economy grows, so too do skill shortages and the need to import skills from overseas.
Of course there is also the stimulatory measures of state governments to be added to Federal expenditure with Victoria alone spending $13 billion to combat the coronavirus crisis with more than $7.6 billion in direct economic support for business in Victoria.
It’s probably going to be several years before we see the high level of tourists, students and migrants returning to Australia and it is conceivable that those allowed to enter might have to have a health passport (no jab no entry) in addition to a national passport to gain entry to Australia but there is a general feeling of optimism in Australia that the worst is behind us.
Our message to those who feel that they have been treading water as far as migration to Australia is concerned is to hang in there. To those that have already filed applications that are as yet undecided we should see more decisions being made next year and to those who have completed English-language and skills assessments and are waiting on the state sponsorship lists, progress cannot be too far off with state sponsorship lists due to open up shortly as well as more updates in July of next year.
If 1992 was an “annus horribilis” according to Queen Elizabeth II, I wonder how she would describe 2020? Whilst I’m not going to predict 2021 to be annus mirabilis (wonderful year) it has to be an improvement on 2020 from a health, social, economic and migration perspective.
Posted by Myer on Oct. 23, 2020, 3:55 p.m. in Australia
The Australian Government has publicly indicated that migration is central to their Covid recovery plan. Knowing there is State level politics that can impact on that goal the federal government has confirmed a threefold expansion in the number of ‘Talent Visas’ up for grabs, I think to deflect from the political risks associated with the other ‘skilled pathways’.
The number of places available was increased from 5000 last immigration year to 15,000 this year. Called a global talent visa it sounds very fancy but take the shiny bow off the packaging it is potentially going to apply to a lot more people than one might imagine. The benchmark for qualifying for this visa might not be as high as you think as one of our clients recently discovered.
So what is the global talent visa and how might it present as a different pathway to residence in Australia?
It’s essentially a visa that grants permanent residence for the “brightest and best talent”, designed to help grow Australia’s innovation and technology sectors.
There are essentially two types of global talent visa programs, those sponsored by employers and a second, independent program and this blog focuses on the independent program because for most of our potential clients, this represents the better of those two options.
The Australian Government has appointed a legion of bureaucrats around the world to try and encourage this new pathway. However applicants are not required to wait for one of these states officials to nominate someone for this visa but it can be done through a 'recognised organisation' or individual in Australia 'prominent' in the same field.
As with all thes rules be careful how you interpret words like 'prominent'.
An applicant must be 'prominent' in one of seven targeted areas namely
- agriculutural technology,
- space and advanced manufacturing,
- financial technology
- energy and mining technology,
- medical technology,
- cyber security; and
- quantum information, advanced digital, data science and ICT
This does not mean you need to be Bills Gates or Elon Must or a Nobel Prize winning Quantum Physicist, only that you are really good at what you do.
And even if you a 'prominent' in your field it doesn't mean you'll qualify because it is limited to those broad categories above. For example, a world renowned film director would not be suitable for the Global Talent visa because he or she doesn't operate in the seven areas mentioned above. However, they could qualify for a distinguished talent visa, another category designed for the elites.
To qualify for this talent visa you must demonstrate that you are internationally recognised with evidence of outstanding achievements and have a recognised organisation or individual in Australia endorse you as a global talent, in the same field as you.
Apart from the Australian Computer Society, I am unaware of any other industry association that has agreed to be a nominator so if you are not in an ICT field and haven’t been identified by one of the global talent officers mentioned above, you will have to rely upon an individual in Australia prominent in the same field to nominate you.
Unlike the nomination process for work visas there are no financial implications upon the nominator but finding such an individual is going to prove to be challenging for most people oversees simply because they might not have an extensive network of like-minded colleagues in Australia.
One of the possible ways of overcoming this potential hurdle would be for those people working for multinational companies with an Australian branch to approach a senior representative of the Australian company to act as nominator.
It is also a requirement to prove an exceptional track record of professional achievement. This may include senior roles, patents, professional awards and international publications, memberships, participation in national or international conference in your field.
Applicants also must have the ability to attract a salary of AUD $153,600 plus superannuation but you don’t have to actually be earning this level of remuneration when an application is filed, applicants just need to be capable of earning this level of remuneration.
There is no age limit for this visa which is attractive when one considers that the age limit for other forms of skilled visas is 45 years of age. INterestingly given how important English language ability is to skilled migrants under this policy the level of English-language required is much lower i.e functional English. The other benefit is priority processing with only 1-2 weeks visa processing times (currently), compared to at least 9 months of other permanent residence visas. And no need to apply for travel exemptions to come to Australia.
In the opening paragraph I mentioned a client of ours who was sceptical of whether he would meet the benchmarks of this particular visa. He did have a certain profile in the IT industry with media exposure and had worked for high profile clients and whilst he rather modestly thought that his achievements would fall shot of the benchmark required, the Australian Computer Society had a different opinion and approved his nomination. In other words, you don't need to be Steven Hawking or Bill Gates of your industry in order to be successful.
On paper this type of visa looks like a winner for both Australia and for many talented people overseas wanting a slice of Australia's lifestryle but there are clearly some flaws in the program, such as the lack of prominent industry associations willing to act as nominators and it's hoped that more of the organisations like the Australian Computer Society that provide skills assessments for general skille migration visas would act as nominators.
Typically not all criteria is well defined but it appears that the bar is lower than the fancy title suggests.
At the end of the day, 15,000 places is considerable and the quota needs to be filled otherwise Australia would be tactily admitting that the best and brightest don't want to immigrate here and I suspect that Australia will keep the bar relatively lower than the rules might infer, in order to ensure that the 15,000 places is filled.
Now is not the time for modesty. You might not have considered yourself to be the sort of migrant that this policy is designed to attract but you might be. Make your voice heard because we think this is one of the best visa offerings for 2020-2021.
Posted by Myer on Oct. 8, 2020, 10:47 a.m. in Australia
If we ever needed reminding that 2020 was a strange year last night we saw a liberal treasurer reading a budget that would have in previous years embarrassed a labor government by the scale of spending contemplated by the government to stimulate an economy that has flat lined in the wake of Covid 19. With unemployment forecast to increase to 7.25% and the economy to shrink by 1.5% this year and the machine that goes “ping” silent, the government charged the defibrillators, shouted “clear” and applied contact. Hopefully with a sharp intake of breath the economy will react to give the government the 4.75% growth forecast for 2021-22 to reduce unemployment to 6.5 percent for that period.
As to how immigration factors into all of this can best perhaps be summed up by the media release published by the Department of Home Affairs entitled “Securing and Uniting Australia as Part of the Government’s Economic Recovery Plan”.
Whilst the government has maintained the same annual ceiling or limit of 160,000 migrants per year, it’s changed the quotas of the different visa types with an emphasis upon partner applications and onshore visas. This is probably because we still don’t have a vaccine for Covid 19 but provision has been retained for a healthy quota of skilled migration.
The budget was predicated upon a vaccine being available for release in Australia towards the latter part of 2021 and whilst it seems likely, it would be catastrophic if a vaccine isn’t available. With a budget deficit estimated to reach 1.7 trillion over the next few years and interest rates at record lows, there isn’t much else at the government’s disposal to provide added stimulus if we don’t have a vaccine.
It was however rewarding to see that the government did acknowledge the financial contribution of migration to the economy and hopefully once we do obtain a vaccine, the government will adopt a more expansive immigration program allowing more foreign students back into Australia.
It was forecast that net migration would fall to -71,000 for the current year which contrasts to the positive gain of 154,000 in last year. Whilst shocking it’s not particularly surprising because long-term students and temporary workers are included in these figures, and with border closures and local state lockdowns, many had to leave Australia. As borders are only likely to reopen mid next year, many won’t be returning before the next immigration year begins in July.
Perhaps more significantly for most of our clients (many of whom are overseas relying on obtaining state sponsorship) is how much of the quota would be allocated to skilled migrants. The Government announced figures for the following categories:
Global talent independent visa – 15,000
Business and investment – 13,500
Family - 77,300 (72,300 to be partner/spouse applications)
Skilled - 54 200
The media release also included the rather ambiguous sentence “While overall the government has placed greater emphasis on the family stream, most of these are people already in Australia. Of the new permanent residents coming into the country, we still anticipate that approximately two thirds will be in the skilled stream and one third from the family stream.”
Clearly the government is still anticipating a skilled migration from overseas but the detail as to how this will be divided under the different types of skilled migration such as employer sponsored, state-sponsored, or independent visas hasn’t yet been released.
It’s clearly looking at filling a larger quota than in previous years with safe and easy applications for partners/spouses, many of whom will be in Australia without having to consider difficult issues such as when borders will reopen as well as the contentious issue of skilled migrants competing with Australians for jobs with rising unemployment.
Traditionally the government has used the state-sponsored visa program to entice foreign students to Australia to provide an incentive to studying in Australia but with fewer students more of the state-sponsored visa places would be available to many of our skilled clients who are based overseas.
The government is not only picking sectors of the economy that it wants to succeed namely resources and critical minerals, food and beverages, medical products, recycling and clean energy, defence and space but also intends picking winners with an increase in the global talent independent program to 15,000 places as well as business innovation and investment programs will be increased to 13,500 places.
The budget also covered a range of major government infrastructure spending for States, local councils, and regional Australians with a significant boost to roads, bridges, rail, and community works and whilst the government has announced programs aimed at training and creating new skill sets in Australia it’s doubtful whether all of the expertise required for these programs will be found within Australia’s borders.
As with most government announcements the devil is in the detail but clearly migration remains an important aspect of government policy as it is still seen as a means of delivering economic stimulus, population growth, skill shortages a base for taxation, it’s just that for this particular immigration year spouses and partners of Australian citizens and permanent residents appear to be the big winners.
Posted by Myer on Aug. 28, 2020, 12:59 p.m. in Australia
On 20 August the Australian Government brought into effect the Migration Amendment (Hong Kong Passport Holders) Regulations 2020 in line with previous announcements regarding special consideration to be granted to Hong Kong students, graduates and skilled workers in Australia. But legislation and subsequent comments by the acting Minister of Immigration, Citizenship Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs is not really providing anything more than a longer stay period in Australia on temporary work and graduate (post-study) visas.
Under the new arrangements:
· Hong Kong passport holders who held a Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) or Temporary Skilled Shortage (subclass 482 or 457) visa on 9th July 2020 will automatically have that visa extended for five years.
· Current and future students from Hong Kong will be eligible for a five-year Temporary Graduate visa on the successful completion of their tertiary studies
· Hong Kong passport holders who apply for a temporary skilled visa will be eligible for a five-year visa if they have qualifications listed on the occupational skills lists and meet Labour Market Testing requirements.
Most importantly the legislation is silent on the pathway that these temporary visa holders will use to obtain permanent residence in Australia. And because of this, we expect that Hong Kong citizens will need to still meet the standard requirements for residence like every other person.
Under current policy there are two main pathways for skilled migrants to qualify for permanent residence, either under the general skilled migration visas (these visas don’t require offers of employment) or under an employer nominated residence visa (which as the name suggests requires one to have an Australian employer willing to act as a sponsor).
With the havoc that Covid 19 has wrought on the Australian economy (unemployment in the state of Victoria is forecast to increase to 10%) I cannot see Australia granting an exemption from normal residence requirements to those thinking of coming to study in Australia. Granting permanent residence to approximately 11,000 additional residents would not be politically palatable in times of high unemployment. The government has said immigration will play an important part to the repair of the economy, but Hong Kong citizens will need to meet one of the above categories, with the only benefit being that more time is given to enable one to meet the requirements.
Whilst this new policy might be useful to those people intending to study or work in Australia, I would personally think twice about uprooting my family to go to Australia on a student visa that could be extended for five years, or receive a five-year visa for completing two years of study in Australia as an alternative to the existing pathways available to all skilled migrants.
Studying in Australia is expensive and should be used as a Secondary option if one of the other categories cannot be met first. Course fees range from AU$20,000 - AU$40,000 per year plus living costs.
If you choose to study in Australia many students from Hong Kong have traditionally chosen to study in Melbourne or Sydney, but when it comes to progressing to permanent residence, there are usually better options that will help you gain state sponsored residence. State governments such as South Australia and Tasmania will nominate international students who complete two years of study in the region, can get a successful skills assessment and meet a points test, even if your occupation is not on their list. There are also certain bonus points that are awarded to those people studying in regional Australia (which excludes Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane) and you would need to pay careful attention to structuring your study in Australia in such a manner that takes into account future residence visa pathways.
The fact that the government in Australia hasn’t provided any guidance as to whether normal permanent residence eligibility criteria apply is significant in its absence. Before you consider bringing your families to travel to Australia to complete a course of study (such as a Masters degree) it would be prudent to first consider your permanent migration options. Too often we see people who have moved to Australia for study or work without thinking about their pathways to permanent residence, and the most important step in the entire migration process is indeed the initial eligibility and strategy assessment.
I don’t think that Australia has suddenly developed a social conscience which prompted the announcement of the special visa arrangements mentioned above, rather Australia is likely using the opportunity to encourage Hong Kong students, business people and skilled migrants to see Australia as a favourable destination, particularly at a time when it’s becoming increasingly difficult to attract foreign students.
The Australian Government is treading a fine line between wanting to show support for Hong Kong citizens but at the same time wary of public backlash if they decide to grant permanent residence to approximately 11,000 additional residents at a time when Australia is experiencing increasing unemployment due to the effects of Covid 19 on the economy.
To leap or not to leap?
Those people that qualify for skilled migrant category visas under present policy shouldn’t wait for greater clarity on the “pathway” that the government has in mind for those on five-year study and work visas in Australia. They should be leaping now.
Those that don’t have options under existing skilled migrant categories should be looking very carefully before they leap into student visas until such time as the “pathway” to permanent residence is clarified by the Australian government.
Posted by Myer on June 26, 2020, 1:51 p.m. in Australia
The silly season is fast approaching in Australia and I’m not referring to Christmas or New Year. I am referring to 1 July which is the beginning of our immigration year and demarcates the beginning of the “silly season” in which state governments produce lists of occupations that they intend to sponsor for the immigration year that commences on 1 July 2020 and ends 30 June 2021. We are all then consumed with furious energy trying to secure state sponsorship for our clients with the limited number of places that are available her occupation.
We never know in advance which occupations are going to appear on state sponsorship lists or how many of a particular occupation the eight states or territories will sponsor but before you can apply for state sponsorship you need to have the results of your skills assessment and English-language test.
To borrow from the Christmas analogy, there are many of you that will be reading this without having done your “shopping” (skills assessment and English-language test) early and will be waiting for your occupations to appear on state sponsorship lists before you commence your shopping but for anyone with insight into how the state sponsorship program works you can’t afford to wait until such time as your occupation appears on a state sponsorship list before you “shop” for your English-language test results and skills assessment.
Perhaps I should end the shopping analogy just in case anyone forms the incorrect impression that English-language test results and skills assessments can simply be bought online. They have to be earned by obtaining a positive skills assessment from the relevant skills assessing authority and English-language test results have to be acquired through sitting one of the five possible English-language tests. Some states sponsor such a limited number of places in a particular occupation that the occupation closes often within hours or days of the publication of the state sponsorship list, for other occupations they linger on state sponsorship lists for the better part of 12 months.
Covid 19 hasn’t changed Australia’s immigration quota, we still want approximately 160,000 migrants per year with a preference that a large percentage would want to immigrate to regional Australia (i.e. the whole of Australia excluding the metropolitan areas of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane).
Australia doesn’t have a population policy. Our population is at present 25 million but there is no forecast figure with what our population might look like in 10 or 20 years time we have instead used our annual migration quota (currently 160,000) plus domestic growth to be a de facto population policy but many have been calling for a national debate as to formulating a population policy with the Covid 19 pandemic seen as an opportune time to have that debate.
The majority of politicians in Australia have been lamenting the fact that because of Covid 19 net migration numbers are expected to fall by 85% next year and they understand that migration does add to the economy in so many ways and that it’s a popular misconception that migrants take jobs from Australians. I should hasten to add that this drastic reduction in net migration isn’t as a result of a cut in quotas on the part of the Australian Government, rather a result of border closures in the wake of Covid 19.
On the other hand state sponsorship lists are supposed to be a representation of the skills needed by a particular state for the forthcoming immigration year and in the current economic climate with unemployment in Australia at 7.1% (from the pre-Covid rate of 5.2%) we would expect to see shorter state sponsorship lists evidencing fewer occupations in demand than when the last state sponsorship lists were produced on 1 July 2019.
It’s hard to justify the inclusion of many hospitality related occupations such as chef, Cook, restaurant manager, hotel and motel manager, hospitality manager not elsewhere classified et cetera when many of these businesses haven’t been able to trade and we just don’t know how many of them will actually continue to be in operation once government stimulus package such as Jobkeeper ends.
On the other hand Australia has traditionally always needed many of these occupations and they have always had a good representation on state sponsorship lists so if the lists are to mirror current demand for occupations they would be very short. If on the other hand state governments are forecasting what demand might be like in 8 – 11 months time we might see more generous state sponsorship lists.
Those migrants obtaining state sponsorship would probably only be factoring in a move to Australia towards the end of 2021 given current processing times and it’s going to be interesting to see whether the state sponsorship lists focus on the current economic climate or the forecasted improved economic conditions for 2021 or simply use the lists to boost migration numbers to compensate for the lost economic benefit of certain temporary visa holders such as students, working holiday visa holders and temporary workers.
Net migration also includes long-term student visa holders and as many of them can’t return to Australia to complete their courses because of border closures we may see shorter lists of occupations but more opportunity to acquire state sponsorship by those overseas who haven’t studied in Australia.
The silly season usually involves close scrutiny of state sponsorship lists and their publication (not all appear on one July) followed by frantic lodgement of state sponsorship applications and supporting documentation but given the factors mentioned above it’s perhaps going to be sillier than usual this year. I for one will be wearing my silly hat and looking forward to seeing what occupations Santa has put into my Christmas stocking this year.
Posted by Myer on April 17, 2020, 2:01 p.m. in Australia
My business partner Iain Macleod (the Southern Man) has in recent blogs been gazing at his crystal ball and looking at his tea leaves to see what the future holds for New Zealand and it is now my turn to speculate what the next few months hold in store for most of our clients. I would have done it sooner but the last time I used my crystal ball was in the global financial crisis and I had packed it in storage mistakenly thinking it would be some time before I would need it again. How wrong I was.
The vast majority of our clients intending to immigrate to Australia are overseas and intending to apply for general skilled migration visas. Most of our clients require, amongst other things, a state government to sponsor them. The chances of securing state sponsorship very much depend upon whether their occupations appear on a state sponsorship list.
These state sponsorship lists are produced on or about one July of each year which is when our immigration year commences and the occupations that appear on state sponsorship lists are largely a reflection of the skills required by any one of the eight states or territories in Australia.
A decrease in economic activity in a particular state will presumably mean that state sponsorship lists will be populated with fewer occupations which means less chance of securing state sponsorship.
The International Monetary Fund produced a report yesterday forecasting a contraction in Australia’s economy by 6.7% for the 2020 year but rebounding by 5.8% for the 2021 year. The average country’s economy was forecast to contract by 3% and the figure of 6.7% contraction in the economy sent shockwaves through Australia yesterday. Our Treasurer Josh Frydenberg countered by saying that these predictions did not take into account Australia’s recently announced $130 billion Jobkeeper package which is a fortnightly payment of AU$1500 to Australian workers for a period of six months. The IMF said they had!
Whatever economic modelling you are using the next year isn’t going to be fun in Australia. New Treasury figures forecast the jobless rate will double in the June quarter from 5.1 per cent to 10 per cent, all but confirming Australia will enter a recession as it deals with the COVID-19 pandemic.
It will be the first time the unemployment rate has hit double digits since April 1994 and the figure is a fraction below Australia's peak unemployment rate of 11.2 per cent in 1992.
But Treasury's estimates show the unemployment rate would be much higher, and peak at 15 per cent, had the Government not intervened with the $130 billion wage subsidy program known as Jobkeeper.
As such I would expect state sponsorship lists that are going to be produced on one July of this year to have much fewer occupations than in previous years.
It’s not all doom and gloom though, the general skilled migration visa program which has an annual quota of 41,620 requires one to obtain a positive skills assessment and certain English language test and attain a certain level of English-language ability and these initial steps can take 6 to 8 months for the average client.
Whilst I can see that the state sponsorship lists for the immigration year commencing 1 July 2020 will be significantly shorter I can foresee much longer lists in the immigration year commencing 1 July 2021.
Even on conservative estimates we would have a covid 19 vaccine by then and while a rebounding Australian economy will initially re-employ unemployed Australians I think that these lists will incorporate a number of occupations for several reasons.
International students – the Australian economy is heavily reliant upon international students to support the tertiary education sector in Australia. It represents a $38 billion boost to the economy and many of the state governments offer state sponsorship programs to those studying in Australia and obtaining tertiary qualifications. As such occupations appearing on state sponsorship lists act as an inducement or carrot to those choosing to study in Australia because they don’t need to rely upon employers to nominate them for visas.
Many of those in Australia on temporary visas such as work visas would have left Australia and returned to their home countries as a consequence of losing their jobs and as our economy expands in 2021 not all Australians will be able to fill these jobs.
The nature of the Australian economy is going to be different. I don’t think that Australia will ever return to an economy of government subsidised mass production (the days of automobile assembly in Australia are well and truly gone) but at the same time I think that the government does foresee a need for an Australia that is more self-reliant in certain key areas. I can see occupations relating to life sciences, research and development, technology, manufacture of pharmaceuticals and medical related products, farm production and food technologists all receiving increased government funding and it would be nice to see start-ups in these areas perhaps enjoying tax breaks in other words governments picking winners and supporting them.
There are going to be massive government infrastructure projects that flow on to stimulate the economy and the scope and scale of these infrastructure projects will mean that certain skill sets will need to be imported from overseas.
As to when economic activity picks up in Australia very much depends upon whether you adopt a managed return to work along the lines that schools reopen end of April, work constraints relaxed in May and certain community activities resume fully in September. This model accepts that you will have some covid 19 flare-ups and as a consequence a higher mortality rate but the cost to the economy is substantially less than the alternative model of eradicating the virus entirely which seems to be New Zealand’s model.
New Zealand’s model seems to be eradication of the virus entirely, presumably once a vaccine has been developed and adopting a closed border approach and severe restrictions on the type of economic activity until such time as the virus is eradicated. The number of lives saved is much higher but the economic consequences more dire.
We also have a federation of states in Australia and whilst there are certain decisions that are in the domain of the federal government such as the opening of national borders our state premiers do have a large role to play in the type of economic and social activity permitted in each state and as different states in Australia have different rates of infection we may see some states with lower rates of infection adopting a more rapid return to normal economic activity sooner than others.
My crystal ball wasn’t that effective during the global financial crisis and I don’t know how effective is going to be through the Covid 19 crisis (perhaps it would have been more reliable if made in Australia) but I am of the opinion that if you don’t foresee things getting better in your home country and you do intend to immigrate to Australia you need to pursue a strategy that will ultimately secure permanent residence in this country.
General skilled migration visas still represent a very useful immigration strategy and because of the lead in time before you can apply for state sponsorship is in the region of six – eight months and because the economy in Australia is forecast to rebound in a v shaped way (sharp brief drop but sharp expansion) I believe you need to undertake the foundation phases now so that when the economy does rebound next year you will be in a better position to take advantage of the increased opportunities for state sponsorship.
Posted by Myer on April 8, 2020, 11:07 a.m. in Australia
30 November 2020 -
State government updates
Victoria 188C – Significant Investor
Victoria has announced that it will open visa nominations for the SIV 188C subclass at 9AM on Monday 30 November 2020. This has been possible due to the limited number of places remaining from the interim allocation in August this year.
All other business innovation and investor visa nomination applications (subclass 188A, 188B, and 188E streams and subclass 132A and 132B streams) and the skilled program (subclass 190 and subclass 491) remain closed to new applications.
South Australia – GSM
South Australia is yet to receive our full allocation of nomination places, and is therefore not in a position to open a full Skilled Migration program at this stage.
2 October 2020 -
Victoria will continue nominating skilled and business migrants, until they fill our interim nomination places, even beyond the initial cutoff period of 5 October.
Victoria’s interim allocation for 2020-21 were:
- 600 places for skilled subclass 190
- 200 places for skilled subclass 491
- 400 places for the business innovation and investment program
Once Victoria receives confirmation of its full 2020-21 nomination allocations for the skilled and business migration programs, they will be in a position to reopen their visa nomination programs.
29 September -
Queensland has now opened its Business and skilled migration program from Tuesday 29 September 2020 until Monday 5 October 2020.
21 September -
Concessions for meeting the requirements for subclass 887, 888 and 485 visas.
Some concessions have now been made for subclass 887 applications. These relate to a concession period, which is from 1 Feb 2020 until such time the minister decides it ends. We expect this to be when the borders reopen.
These concessions include:
There are also some concessions for the business skills 188 visa holders:
And finally some concessions for 485 graduate visas:
Depending on how long the borders remain closed, the concessions could change. But this is welcome news to many who were affected by the border closures.
10 September -
A small number of places have been allocated to the States and Territories for Subclasses 190 and 491 nominations and the Business Innovation and Investment classes up until the Federal Budget on 6 October 2020.
The specific number of interim allocated places for each State and Territory for subclasses 190, 491 and the Business Innovation and Investment program are below:
State & Territory
sc 491 & 489
Australia is now allowing Business Innovation and Investment subclass 188 visa holders to enter Australia.
Currently those who are exempt from requiring individual exemptions are:
3 September -
Victoria will be opening the skilled visa nomination program (subclass 190 and 491) on Tuesday 8 September, 2020.
The program will be an interim measure until the budget is released on 6 October, much the same with the other state governments. To be eligible to apply for Victorian nomination, you must:
2 September -
The Government has announced a new Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL) of 17 occupations that will allow people with these skills to enter Australia to assist in the country's COVID recovery.
It is expected that businesses who are sponsoring these occupations will be able to do so under the TSS 482 or the ENS 186 visa classes.
Visa holders, who have been sponsored by an Australia business in a PMSOL occupation can request an exemption from Australia’s travel restrictions, but will be subject to a strict 14 days quarantine on arrival at their own expense.”
The 17 occupations (ANZSCO code) are:
• Chief Executive or Managing Director (111111)
• Construction Project Manager (133111)
• Mechanical Engineer (233512)
• General Practitioner (253111)
• Resident Medical Officer (253112)
• Psychiatrist (253411)
• Medical Practitioner nec (253999)
• Midwife (254111)
• Registered Nurse (Aged Care) (254412)
• Registered Nurse (Critical Care and Emergency) (254415)
• Registered Nurse (Medical) (254418)
• Registered Nurse (Mental Health) (254422)
• Registered Nurse (Perioperative) (254423)
• Registered Nurses nec (254499)
• Developer Programmer (261312)
• Software Engineer (261313)
• Maintenance Planner (312911)
1 September -
NSW has just made an announcement regarding their interim program. As with other states, NSW has been provided a limited number of interim nomination places for the 2020–21 financial year.
Business and investor visas
Potential business and investor applicants will be selected by invitation only.
Invitation rounds will commence shortly for subclass 190 visa nomination. In line with Home Affairs' direction, applicants in selected health, ICT and engineering occupations, and who currently reside in NSW will be invited.
20 August -
The ACT has finally opened their skilled migration program. As promised, it is very compromised and they are limiting invitations to those whose occupation is on the critical skills list and living in the ACT.
If you don’t live in the ACT, they you need to wait until October when the budget is announced and a far greater number of allocations are issued to the state governments. The ACT has finally opened their skilled migration program. As promised, it is very compromised and they are limiting invitations to those whose occupation is on the critical skills list and living in the ACT.
If you don’t live in the ACT, they you need to wait until October when the budget is announced and a far greater number of allocations are issued to the state governments.
17 August -
Victoria has posted an update on their skilled program. They too have been provided with a limited number of visa nomination places until the Federal Budget is delivered on 6 October 2020.
They are preparing to re-open with new policies and nomination criteria to support Victoria’s economic recovery and the public health response.
As with the other state governments, the nominations will be restricted to occupations in the critical care sectors:
12 August -
We have received an update on the current state allocations for the General Skilled Migration program.
The government has allocated a small number of places to each state and territory, and the focus will be on occupations in critical sectors. They haven’t stated which occupations will be available and the individual state and territory governments will be arranging their lists within the following guidelines:
The small number will be in place until the government announces the budget in October, where they will release the immigration program numbers for the follow year. We expect that all occupations on the skills list will be made available to the state and territory governments, as well as a greater number of places allocated by the government.
None of this will likely impact on the strategy we have devised for you as this is just an interim measure put in place until October when we expect a greater number of places to be made available under the state sponsorship program.
9 July -
The Director, Migration Assistance Policy Section, Immigration Policy Framework Branch, Immigration and Community Protection Policy Division, Immigration and Settlement Services Group from the Department of Home Affairs has provided this update surrounding the immigration program:
The State and Territory nominated visa programs will play an important part in Australia’s economic recovery and continue to be a part of the Migration Program. The Australian Government is considering how best to shape the Migration Program into the future to drive economic growth and support job creation. Nominations will be made available to States and Territories in line with these considerations, in the following categories:
· Skilled – Nominated (subclass 190).
· Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) (subclass 491).
· Business Innovation and Investment Program.
With regard to the invitation rounds for Skilled Independent (subclass 189) and Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) (Family Sponsored) (subclass 491), the Government is closely monitoring migration and visa settings to ensure they are consistent with public health measures, are flexible and do not displace job opportunities for Australians so that Australia can deal with the immediate and post recovery impacts of COVID-19. Targeted invitation rounds have continued each month and prioritise skills which are in critical need and will aid Australia’s economic recovery.
7 April - COVID-19 (Coronavirus) - First entry to Australia
The Department has made some allowances with regards to the subclasses below under the General skilled migration category, namely those who have been approved visas and are yet to make their first entry into Australia.
Once your visa is approved, you are given a date by which you must make your first entry. Given the current travel bans, it may not be possible for some of you to make the first entry.
If you can't make the entry to Australia before the expiry of the first entry date, you will need to take the attached information sheet with you when you travel to Australia. The Department can cancel visas if you don't make your first entry date, however they won't seek to do this if you hold one of the visas below.
We don't know how long after the first entry date expires the Department will allow you to enter, so we strongly suggest that once the travel ban has been lifted , and your first entry date has expired, and that you make your trip to Australia as soon as you can.
? Skilled Independent (subclass 189)
? Skilled Nominated (subclass 190)
? Skilled Regional (subclass 489)
? Skilled Work Regional (subclass 491)
This information applies to visa holders who were outside of Australia when their visa was granted.
Requests for information
Some services relating to the visa application process may be impacted by COVID-19 and a range of services we rely on are increasingly unavailable.
This includes overseas panel doctors and visa medical appointments, English language testing facilities, and biometric collection.
You will be given additional time to complete checks and provide requested information.
Processing and allocation times – Subclass 887 visa
7 April - QLD Nomination Criteria
BSMQ has made following announcement for the Bridging Visa holders: s48 bar unable to lodge due to entry ban. These are applicants who have had a visa refused or cancelled since our last entry into Australia.
If an applicant is currently on a bridging visa and has been invited to lodge documents with BSMQ for a subclass 491 visa, they must notify Business and Skilled Migration Queensland of any past visa refusals or cancellations.
If an applicant has received a visa refusal or cancellation whilst on a bridging visa, they are likely to be subject to a section 48 bar which means they are unable to lodge a state nominated visa (and most other visas) onshore.
Unfortunately, during the COVID-19 pandemic, it not possible to go offshore to lodge a visa application, and then return to Australia.
This is because there is an entry ban on temporary visa holders returning to Australia at this time. If you are section 48 barred, BSMQ is unable to nominate for a subclass s491 visa and request that the application be withdrawn.
It may be possible to submit an EOI again at a later date once the entry ban is lifted if Queensland criteria continues to be met.
6 April - Temporary Skilled Visa Holders
There are around 139,000 temporary skilled visa holders, on either a 2 year or 4 year visa. They were provided the visa to fill a skills shortage - a shortage that may still be present when the crisis has passed.
Consequently, those visa holders who have been stood down, but not laid off, will maintain their visa validity and businesses will have the opportunity to extend their visa as per normal arrangements. Businesses will also be able to reduce the hours of the visa holder without the person being in breach of their visa conditions.
These visa holders will also be able to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation this financial year. Those visa holders who have been laid off due to the coronavirus should leave the country in line with their existing visa conditions if they are unable to secure a new sponsor. However, should a 4-year visa holder re-employed after the coronavirus pandemic their time already spent in Australia will count towards their permanent residence skilled work experience requirements.
2 April - PTE Academic COVID-19 update and Free childcare for Australian essential workforce
The Pearsons testing centres have announced a suspension if testing centres until future notice due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Some centres are still open but restrict the number of test takers for each session. A full list of locations and information about testing is avaliable here.
The Prime minister announced free childcare for Australian parents to ensure essential workers can continue their roles.
From next week, childcare centres will be able to access Commonwealth funding equal to 50 per cent of their pre-COVID-19 revenue (up the existin hourly rate cap) in addition to JobKeeper payments to retain employees, where eligible.
30 March - Wage Subsidy Announced By Australian Government
The Federal Government announced an AU$1,500 fortnightly wage subsidy.The subsidy is an integral part of the $130 billion economic stimulus package announced by the Australian Government in response to the coronavirus.
Although the payment is to be made to employers there is a legal obligation on employers to ensure they pass on the full wage subsidy to employees.
It will be backdated to include anyone who has been stood down due to coronavirus. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the JobKeeper scheme would benefit the hardest-hit sectors.
"This $1,500 payment is a flat payment and is the equivalent of around 70 per cent of the median wage and represents about 100 per cent of of the median wage in those sectors most heavily impacted by the coronavirus like retail, like hospitality and tourism," he said.
To be eligible, an employee must be an Australian citizen, the holder of a permanent visa or a Special Category (Subclass 444) Visa Holder. It's not extended to those on temporary visas such as subclass 482 work visas
27 MARCH - Vetassess Trades - alternative interview assessments
VETASSESS is to conduct Technical Interview assessments by online video conferencing during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak commencing 1 April.
This applies to assessments for non-licensed occupations as opposed to licensed occupations. It means the Technical Interviews can be conducted outside a VETASSESS-approved venue such as in the applicant’s workplace or home.
26 MARCH - COVID-19
Australia has chosen not to go into total lockdown to flatten our curve. Most state borders have been closed and of course our national borders as well.
We are thankful though that the Department of Home Affairs is still processing visas as are skills assessing authorities. State Governments are also still processing state sponsorship applications.
We are fortunate that some time ago we put into place systems that enable us to work remotely and even though my colleagues and I have, for the past week, been working from home we are able to still effectively process applications as they are filed electronically.
When people used to ask why I don’t have branch offices abroad I used to joke that I could do my job from Mars if I had a good Internet connection. I never thought that I might have to test that theory one day :-)
The vast majority of our clients are overseas and don’t need to travel to Australia for the purposes of securing employment to process their General Skilled Migration Visas.
The Prime Minister has tried to limit the damage to the economy by implementing a range of policies aimed at socially distancing Australians without going into total lockdown. It’s a controversial decision and many Australians (myself included) believe that the economic fallout would be sharper but of shorter duration were we to go into total lockdown.
The Government’s thinking is that the vast majority of Covid 19 cases in Australia are as a result of international travellers arriving in Australia and the closure of our borders and the social distancing measures will help to flatten the curve whilst at the same time causing minimum damage to the economy.
Only time will tell whether this is the correct strategy but given the length of time it takes to process a General Skilled Migration Visa application (approximately 18 months) and given that migrants are given 12 months to then visit Australia most of our clients are thinking longer term.
We will continue to use this blog to update you on developments.
Posted by Myer on Jan. 24, 2020, 9:31 a.m. in Australia
Posted by Myer on Nov. 29, 2019, 2:39 p.m. in Australia
We always explain to clients when we meet them that the eligibility we describe in that initial assessment is not in fact a description of their eligibility today but a snapshot of their future eligibility. Why? Because there are generally months of work, English exams and third party applications that must be completed before any Visa can be filed for Australia. And it is only when an application is filed that the clock stops. Changes from that day forward should not impact them.
The past two weeks have served to illustrate that specific point with the advent of a new range of points for those seeking to live permanently in Australia.
As we have written about before the Federal Government is increasingly devolving the power to decide which skilled migrants get residence of Australia to the State and Territorial Government.
Applicants are left then having to please two masters.
Each State has its own list of occupations it wishes to support, its own quotas of each occupation and its own criteria for each occupation.
Whilst the pass mark to secure a general skilled migration visa is set to remain at 65 points (according to the Federal Government) it’s clear that many more people are going to be meeting that general pass mark and to quote John F. Kennedy, ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’. Most applicants will now be able to score between 5 and 25 more points than before the recent changes.
What isn’t changing is national (federal) quotas but there sure as heck is going to be an awful lot more people going scoring more than 65 points than was previously the case.
In an environment where the Federal Government is seeking to cut levels of migration it leads to only one conclusion, which is paradoxical - if you give more people more points how do you cut numbers when you don’t increase the pass mark?
Answer? The State Governments will be forced to change their own criteria. We are already seeing some evidence of that.
State governments have, even prior these changes, been feeling the pressure under the State nomination program (too many applicants, not enough places).
We are in no doubt that this pressure will increase notwithstanding the additional 14,000 extra places available for the newly created 491 (5-year work to residence) regional Visa. These additional places aren’t, in my opinion, sufficient to cope with what will be many more applicants capable of scoring more than 65 points.
Prior to the November 16 changes we often saw State governments open and close State nomination programs within 24 hours of the new immigration year beginning on 1 July.
Just this past week we saw Queensland open and fill (then close) their entire annual quota for the 190 (permanent resident visa) within 24 hours. You snooze you lose.
Clearly States are under pressure with a limited number of places available and an almost insatiable demand on the part of migrants for these places as they are pushed in the direction of the States by the Federal Government.
States then find themselves in a difficult situation. They have to balance the needs of the local economy by making sure that the migrants they are sponsoring are satisfying the skills needed by employers in their State whilst still providing pathways for some international students to use the State nomination system to obtain permanent residence.
As to how States achieve this balancing act is yet to be seen but we fully expect, and are starting to see evidence of additional and new requirements being added (or planned) for specific occupations.
For example, Tradesmen are in demand in most locations but most Tradesmen cannot score even 65 points let alone more. We predict that those sorts of occupations will not have to satisfy other criteria and the States will keep things relatively simply for this group.
Other occupations however might, as an example, have a minimum number of years of work experience in that occupation added (we saw at least one State recently add, as a minimum, three years of work whereas previously they did not), or demand a higher than ‘standard’ English.
So it is clear that some occupations that are heavily oversubscribed such as ICT occupations will face higher thresholds to secure state support
Whilst our challenge as consultants is to try and anticipate which occupations might appear on State lists with our clients in mind, so too do State governments have to balance a range of competing interests in drafting their own lists.
We are in close contact with most of the decision makers in the more popular States and we have a good handle on the direction the process is heading, even if they themselves have not yet worked out all the details.
It is our job to keep our clients at the front of the pack chasing state nomination given it is increasingly the only of securing visas for most people and the relationships we have built up with the state decision makers is critical in maintaining that advantage.
Boris Johnson has repeatedly expressed admiration for Australia’s points test in his UK election campaign and one can only hope that he designs a point system that is more transparent than Australia’s system unless of course he enjoys playing chess.
Attend a seminar as a starting point to learn more about the lifestyle of each country, their general migration process and a broad overview of Visa categories.
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