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WA will be able to handpick permanent migrants to service the booming resources sector and other areas of critical need under a massive overhaul of the skilled migration program to be unveiled today.

Under the changes, Immigration Minister Chris Evans will revoke and refund 20,000 applications from would-be skilled migrants and instead give top priority to those who are sponsored by employers and States for high-level jobs.

The overhaul is geared towards making Australia’s skilled migration super-responsive to urgent shortfalls in qualified mining and health sector workers, while also tightening permanent visa criteria for overseas students studying courses in low skill occupations.

Senator Evans will immediately abolish the Migration Occupations in Demand List, which gazettes 106 areas of preferred workers, replacing it by April with a more targeted Skilled Occupations List drawn up by the independent Federal authority Skills Australia in consultation with the States and business.

It means doctors, nurses, engineers and high-value professions and trades will have priority over low-skilled workers such as hairdressers and chefs.

In WA, as yesterday’s Olivier Jobs Index showed, the most sought after workers are in engineering, trades and services, and building.

In a marked departure from the existing skilled migration scheme, States will be asked to draw up their own migration plans to allow fast-tracking of applications for migrants sponsored by States or companies for specific jobs.

The bar will be raised for unsponsored skilled migration applicants, with criteria such as proficiency in the English language, work experience and overseas qualifications to be made tougher.

The overall annual skilled migration intake will remain unchanged at 108,100 people.

The changes are likely to have a significant impact on the burgeoning multi-billion-dollar overseas student market where hundreds of thousands of foreign students have come to Australia to undergo trades training, enticed by the prospect of permanent residency.

The Government believes such courses are skewing the migration program, leaving new permanent residents with poor English and little prospect of finding work in their nominated field of expertise.

Foreign students in Australia studying in areas dumped from the new skilled occupation hit list will be given 18 months after completion of their studies to find sponsorship from an employer or sent home.

The Government believes the new regime will help the clampdown on unscrupulous migration agents, many of whom are Indian-based, who con students into believing completion of an Australian course gives automatic entitlement to permanent residence. 

The bar will be raised for unsponsored skilled migration applicants, with criteria such as proficiency in the English language, work experience and overseas qualifications to be made tougher.

The overall annual skilled migration intake will remain unchanged at 108,100 people.

The changes are likely to have a significant impact on the burgeoning multi-billion-dollar overseas student market where hundreds of thousands of foreign students have come to Australia to undergo trades training, enticed by the prospect of permanent residency.

The Government believes such courses are skewing the migration program, leaving new permanent residents with poor English and little prospect of finding work in their nominated field of expertise.

Foreign students in Australia studying in areas dumped from the new skilled occupation hit list will be given 18 months after completion of their studies to find sponsorship from an employer or sent home.

The Government believes the new regime will help the clampdown on unscrupulous migration agents, many of whom are Indian-based, who con students into believing completion of an Australian course gives automatic entitlement to permanent residence.

Source  :  www.thewest.com.au

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At the meeting with David Wilden at Australia House today, we were told as follows:

All the applications in hand from people in Categories 1 – 4 as listed in the FAQ of 23rd September 2009 are now under control.

DIAC estimate that there are about 3,500 applications in Category 5 – that is, State sponsored but the main applicant’s occupation is not on the CSL. Mr Wilden has been told that DIAC are now in a position to make a start on processing the Cat 5 applications.

Mr Wilden said as follows:

  • Roughly 3,500 is the number of actual visa applications, not the number of people involved. (I checked this with him specifically and he was definite about it.)
  • They will start to process the Cat 5s according to the dates when the visa applications were lodged and they will deal with the oldest applications first.
  • They will make no distinctions between the different visa subclasses – first come, first served means what it implies in a situation where the occupation is not on the CSL but the applicant does have State sponsorship.
  • There is no foundation to the rumour that tradies may be excluded from Cat 5 processing – the tradies are to be treated identically to people whose occupations are in ASCO Groups 1-3.

Mr Wilden said that we have had him up late at night and out of bed before the birds in order to phone his colleagues in Australia to discover exactly what the plans are for the Category 5s because he had seen from Poms in Oz that everyone is particularly worried about this question in particular.

Mr WIlden stressed that he cannot say how long it will take to clear the backlog of about 3,500 Cat 5 applications. As & when they receive further applications from people with greater claim to priority, the applications with greater priority will be dealt with first.

The Famous Five were all PiO members (DanB1, Floater, Gollywobbler, RonnieRocket and Watneyni to put us in alphabetical order.) We were all sitting round the same table with Mr Wilden and we all heard him say exactly the same things. (Needless to say we repaired to a London hostelry afterwards to compare notes – thanks very much indeed to Watneyni for very kindly buying a round of drinks for us all.)

We were joined unexpectedly by a very helpful young man called Andrew. He has worked at the ASPC for a while but he is now in the UK, working with John Adams RMA at Immigration2Oz.com Andrew is not a PiO member [yet] but I am trying to encourage him/twist his arm! Andrew was involved with this part of the discussion so he heard Mr Wilden as well.

That they can’t say how long it will take to clear the 3,500 or so Cat 5 applications is reasonable enough. Mr Wilden promised to find out how many of the 108,100 skilled PR & Provisional visas for 2009/10 have been granted as at 30th November 2009 and he said he will let us know as soon as he knows. Once we have that figure it will probably be possible to start making reasonably sensible guesses.

After the meeting the Famous Five agreed that this information is probably the most significant piece of info from today and that we would get it onto the forum with all possible speed, in its own thread to make it stand out.

Cheers

Gill

Source  :  http://www.pomsinoz.com/forum/migration-issues/73648-category-5-news.html

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A SPECIALIST integrity unit has been formed inside the Department of Immigration to deal with widespread fraud in the working holiday visa program, on which industries such as fruit growing depend.

More than 200 internet advertisements have been found offering to buy or sell documents allowing backpackers to claim they had worked in rural jobs without them leaving Sydney, and thus extend their working holiday visas. The standard fee is $400. So far, 64 visas have been cancelled over the fraud and at least 19 more are being reviewed.

One man, an Irish national, has been convicted of fraud. ”There’s been more than 100 fraudulent claims identified this financial year,” a spokeswoman for the department said. ”The answer is we don’t know [the full extent of the fraud]. At this stage it’s too early to determine and we will be looking at it over the next six months.”

The working holiday visa (subclass 417) allows people to extend their stay in Australia by a year if they can prove they have worked in a rural area for three months. Applications are lodged online but have been abused by people selling Australian business numbers linked to farms so backpackers can falsely claim they worked on farms.

”Second year visas for sale,” one ad read. ”Will email completed 1263 form and add your details to my books so you can gain second year visa with ease.”

Another ad offering similar services, posted on the Gumtree website on Saturday, had received more than 2000 hits by last night. Unlike visa scams targeting international students, mainly Indians, this fraud is used mainly by European visitors.

One backpacker told the Herald he had been offered the false documentation as soon as be arrived in Australia, by people staying at the same hostel.

”People told me about buying the documents – getting the numbers to put in,” he said. ”When I arrived here people said you can go there [to a farm] or you can buy. Everyone knows about it. It’s easy. All the people who are here know about that.”

The federal Opposition spokeswoman on immigration, Sharman Stone, said the widespread fraud reflected under-resourcing of the department.

Source  :  www.smh.com.au

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From 31 October 2009, the South Australian Government Financing Authority (SAFA) has announced it will not accept any further applications from General Skilled Migration (GSM) applicants who wish to lodge a capital investment, as it will close the scheme.

Since the announcement of the reopening of the capital investment scheme by SAFA on 29 January 2009, the department has contacted all applicants whose cases had been assessed and who indicated they intended to lodge a capital investment.

Any applicants who have indicated on their application form that they intend to lodge a capital investment, but have not yet done so, are advised to finalise their capital investment before the scheme is closed.

Applicants who did not indicate on their application form that they intended to lodge a capital investment, but now wish to do so because they will be relying on the five bonus points to meet the Point Test, should also contact the department and finalise their capital investment before the scheme is closed.

This is the final opportunity for all pre 1 September 2007 GSM applicants to lodge a capital investment. As there will be no further capacity for applicants to make a capital investment to gain the bonus five (5) points, the department will not provide applicants any additional time to make a capital investment once the scheme offered by SAFA closes. Please note that this also applies to those applicants who have appealed to the Migration Review Tribunal (MRT) and those applicants seeking judicial review.

Applicants who still intend to make a capital investment are strongly urged to do so before 31 October 2009.

Please note that only SAFA provides an approved designated security that enables an applicant for a pre-1 September 2007 GSM visa to be awarded bonus points for making a capital investment.

For more information  :  http://www.immi.gov.au/skilled/general-skilled-migration/capital-investment-scheme-faqs.htm

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The Department of Immigration and Citizenship is strengthening checks on student visa applications to stamp out fraud and ensure students have the financial capacity to live and study in Australia.

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans said today that applications for student visas grew by 20 per cent to 362 193 in 2008-09, with almost 28 000 student visas refused, an increase of 68 per cent on the number of refusals in 2007-08.

‘While overall student visa compliance rates remain high, there are elements of concern within this large caseload,’ the minister said.

The targeted measures will address the potential for document fraud and other issues around financial capacity, identification and bona fides in some parts of the student caseload. The measures implemented with immediate effect include:

  • upgrading the interview program to build a strong evidence base around fraud;
  • removing or restricting eVisa access for some agents where there is evidence of fraud or inactivity, and
  • restricting access to eVisa for some segments of the caseload if analysis demonstrates restricted access would allow for better control of fraud.

The measures will target parts of the student visa caseload in India, Mauritius, Nepal, Brazil, Zimbabwe and Pakistan.

‘These measures are consistent with those used by other countries that receive large numbers of student visa applications, such as the United States,’ Senator Evans said.

‘Australia’s student visa program supports the entry of genuine international students. For those students, the department provides a convenient, efficient service.

‘The message is clear: genuine international students remain welcome in Australia, but we will not tolerate fraud in the student visa program.’

The measures are part of the Government’s ongoing response to any changes in risk in visa programs and will build on work already conducted across the student visa program to combat fraud as it emerges. Similar arrangements are already in place for students from other countries, such as Sri Lanka and Vietnam.

‘Student visa requirements are aligned to the immigration risk presented by an applicant. The greater the risk identified, the more evidence required to be granted a student visa. Risk is determined by an objective analysis of visa compliance,’ Senator Evans said.

The next formal review of student visa risk framework is scheduled for 2010. The data obtained from the enhanced checking of student visa applications will help inform future reviews.

Source  :  http://www.minister.immi.gov.au/media/media-releases/2009/ce09075.htm

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Migration agents operating in Australia are required by law to be registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (Office of the MARA).

Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (Office of the MARA)

Prior to 1 July 2009, the MIA acted as the MARA under a Deed of Agreement between the MIA and the department. The 2007-08 Review of Statutory Self-Regulation of the Migration Advice Profession, which was undertaken to assess the effectiveness of the regulatory scheme, recommended that the government consider establishing a regulatory body separate from the MIA.

In response to the review recommendation, the Minister announced the establishment of the Office of the MARA as a discrete office attached to the department and headed by a specifically designated senior officer solely responsible for Office of the MARA activities. The new body is located in Sydney and assumed functions from the MIA from 1 July 2009.

The Office of the MARA is supported by a representative advisory board, which includes a nominee from the MIA, a nominee from the Law Council of Australia, a consumer advocate and a community representative.

The Office of the MARA undertakes a range of functions including:

  • processing registration and re-registration applications
  • administering the profession’s entrance exam and continuing professional development program
  • monitoring the conduct of registered migration agents
  • investigating complaints about registered migration agents
  • taking appropriate disciplinary action against registered migration agents who breach the migration agents Code of Conduct or otherwise behave in an unprofessional or unethical way.

See: Office of the MARA website

Source  :  http://www.immi.gov.au/gateways/agents/regulation-of-advice-profession.htm

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DIAC have just announced that the anyone obtaining their Contributory Parent Visa after 1 July and then planning to sponsor an existing partner will be faced with a potential 5 year wait. What this means, as an initial response, is that people going down that route who have not included an existing spouse in the application should be doing so immediately.

This is the text of the announcement:

Amendments to the Migration Regulations 1994 in relation to Contributory Parent visas and split applications

1 July 2009 Legislation Change

Client summary

From 1 July 2009, the Migration Regulations 1994 (the ‘Regulations’) are amended to prevent persons who are granted a permanent Contributory Parent category visa (Subclasses 143 and 864) from sponsoring their partner or fiancé for a Partner or Prospective Marriage visa for five years from the day of their visa grant, if they:

* were granted their permanent Contributory Parent category visa on or after 1 July 2009; and
* were in a spouse or de facto partner or fiancé relationship on or before the date their permanent Contributory Parent category visa was granted and now wish to sponsor that partner or fiancé.

This limitation may not apply in compelling circumstances which are not financially related.

Additional information:
There have been a number of instances in which couples seeking to migrate under the Contributory Parent category visa provisions have resorted to the split application strategy, whereby:

* only one member of a parent couple applies for and is granted a permanent Contributory Parent category visa; and
* once eligible (usually after two years of being lawfully resident in Australia), this parent subsequently sponsors their spouse (the other parent) under the partner visa category which has a much smaller Visa Application Charge (VAC).

Up until 1 July 2009, this strategy is not prohibited by migration legislation and it is being used in order to reduce the costs associated with migration under Contributory Parent category visa. However, it clearly undermines the Government’s policy intent of ensuring that those parents who migrate under the Contributory Parent visa category make a contribution by means of the VAC to partially offset the significant costs of parent migration to the broader community. Contributory Parent migrants are also subject to the provision of a ten year Assurance of Support (AoS) and payment of a bond.

Furthermore, those who lodge a split application benefit by by-passing the ten year waiting period for parent visa holders to access Government benefits and assistance, whilst spouse visa holders are able to access such benefits within two years of visa grant.

Amendments are being made to information products affected by this legislative change.

Source  :  http://britishexpats.com/forum/showthread.php?t=616147

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