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The Australian Government is hosting an employment expo in London during September to help employers find skilled workers from the UK, a Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) spokesman said today.

“Are you skilled in engineering, medical services, or trades? If so, Australia needs you,” the spokesman said.

“There is still a critical need for skilled workers across a range of Australian industries. The Skills Australia Needs Expo in London will target the industries most in need of skilled workers, such as the mining, health and construction industries.”

“The expo will play host to representatives from major Australian employers and governments from all Australian states and territories. Participants will be able to find out more about possible career pathways down under.”

Since the expo program started in 2005, some 23 expos have been staged in Australia and overseas, with eight in the United Kingdom.

The last UK expo was in 2009 and featured 38 exhibitors including Australian employers, government organisations and relocation service providers. More than 1800 people from the UK who had skills in high demand in Australia also attended.

“The last expo was a big success for both industry representatives and people attending: 90 per cent of participants said they would recommend future expos to friends, while 80 per cent thought they might have met a suitable sponsor for migration to Australia as a result of the expo,” a DIAC spokesman said.

The Skills Australia Needs expo will be staged in London on September 11 and 12.

For more information or to register interest in attending, please go to www.immi.gov.au/skillexpos/overseas.htm

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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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IMMIGRATION officials are preparing a 50-year migration plan to ensure that intakes consider a range of long-term issues such as climate change, water needs and national security.

The Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Andrew Metcalfe, said yesterday the department was conducting a review of the nation’s migration needs to ensure a more rounded and visionary approach.

”In terms of the future, we are trying to lift ourselves away from year-to-year decisions to a 50-year vision,” he told the Australian and New Zealand School of Government conference in Canberra.

”We are trying to move away from an immigration department that is responsive to one that can help the government achieve long-term objectives … A long-term planning framework … is something whose time has come.”

Mr Metcalfe said a well-planned skilled migration program could contribute to Australia’s long-term economic, demographic and environmental goals.

”We want to ensure our skilled migration programs are responding to longer-term skill needs which cannot be addressed through domestic training and skills development,” he said.

”The question then is how we can best address shorter-term labour market requirements … It will be important that the skilled migrants we choose are not only young and healthy but also have a high level of education, language proficiency and other skills. This will ensure that skilled migration contributes both to labour force growth and to the productivity of our labour force.”

Mr Metcalfe said the review will include an examination of the points system used to select skilled migrants, known as the Migration Occupations in Demand List.

”The MODL is not as flexible as we would like to address a rapidly changing and uncertain global environment. In my view, one of themes of this century will be the increased mobility of people around the globe, and we need to manage this adroitly.”

But the Government has denied it has adopted a new policy towards asylum seekers in the wake of a decision this week to process a group of 10 Afghan children on the mainland rather than on Christmas Island.

”These are 10 unaccompanied minors and therefore what’s happened is that they’ve been transferred from Christmas Island to the mainland on September 2,” he said

Asked whether there had been a change of policy, the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, said: ”Absolutely not.”

He told 3AW yesterday the group of 10 children had been transferred to the mainland because unaccompanied minors were given priority in processing.

”That’s what’s happening in the case of these minors,” he said. ”That’s why they’re treated separately.”

Source  :  www.smh.com.au

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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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The professional association representing migration agents, the Migration Institute of Australia, is concerned about allegations raised on tonight’s Four Corners program on migration and education scams.

“Unfortunately, hearing reports about international students and visa applicants falling prey to unscrupulous operators is not a new issue”, says Maurene Horder, CEO of the Migration Institute of Australia.

In May 2008, the MIA reported 60 rogue agents from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship and is unaware if any of these were prosecuted.

Any unethical or illegal behaviour by registered migration agents is not tolerated by the Institute and should be cracked down on by the Department.

“We’ve been asking government to sort out problems with education agents and illegal or unscrupulous operators for an extended period of time. The announcement that education agents will have a register is a first step but doesn’t go far enough in reforming the sector,” says Ms Horder.

A recent independent report, entitled Changing Together, confirms the nature of some of the problems which affects the profession – that the bad behaviour of a minority of unscrupulous operators’ impacts negatively on the entire migration advice profession.

“Following the report’s release, the MIA is acting on a comprehensive range of reforms to strengthen standards and ethics of migration agents.” says Ms Horder. These include:

• Comprehensive reform to the education and training of agents
• Requiring current Registered Migration Agents to requalify to a higher standard of English language and professional competence
• Introduce a tiered system of registration to protect consumers
• Formation of an independent complaints body with the power to review fees

Responsibility for change should be shared by education providers, the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

“I wait with interest to see tonight’s Four Corners episode and hope that it will provide an added impetus for the key stakeholders to come together and develop appropriate policies to meet Australia’s educational and immigration interests without anyone being exploited.”

  • Source  :  www.mia.org.au
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    A juvenile humpback whale has died after beaching on Cable Beach near Albany.                                                                                                    humpback                               

    The 7m whale was found on the beach about noon on Sunday.

    Albany Department of Environment and Conservation officer Peter Collins said there was nothing the department could do to help it back out to sea.

    “There was limited access to the area where it was beached and the whale was lodged behind the reef,” Mr Collins said.

    “It probably weighed around five or six tonnes and, unfortunately, we couldn’t do anything.”

    Mr Collins said whale had been badly “scratched up” by the reef but otherwise, at least on the surface, seemed in good condition.

    He said that there were no plans to move it as it was believed the current would eventually shift it out into the ocean.

    “The public are welcome to go have a look at it but remember, dead whales attract sharks,” Mr Collins said.

    “So I would warn anyone against swimming at Cable Beach for a while.”

    Source  :  www.thewest.com.au

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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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