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The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, today welcomed the final report of the Baird Review on the legislation governing international education.

It is most pleasing to note Mr Baird’s support for the Rudd Government’s changes to the skilled migration program announced on 8 February 2010.

The skilled migration program changes will encourage overseas students to focus on obtaining a quality education from a high quality provider by removing incentives for students to apply for a course simply in the hope of being granted permanent residence.

Under the changes, the wide-ranging migration occupations in demand list was revoked and will be replaced mid-year by a new and more targeted skilled occupations list to be developed by the independent body, Skills Australia.

The new skilled occupations list will be tightly focused on high value skills that will assist in addressing Australia’s future skills needs. It will deliver a mix of skills across the professions and trades in areas such as healthcare, engineering and mining.

International students currently studying in Australia who hold a vocational, higher education or postgraduate student visa will still be able to apply for permanent residence if their occupation is on the new skilled occupations list.

Students currently studying a course in an occupation that is not on the new skilled occupations list will have until the end of 2012 to apply for a temporary skilled graduate visa which will enable them to spend up to 18 months in Australia to acquire work experience and find an Australian employer willing to sponsor them.

It must be remembered that a student visa is just that: a visa to study. It does not give someone an automatic entitlement to permanent residence.

International students should be focused on obtaining a good qualification from a quality education provider in a field in which they want to work. The changes will in no way impact on international students coming to Australia to gain a legitimate qualification and then return home.

Similarly, Australia’s migration program is not and should not be determined by the courses studied by international students.

Australia will continue to welcome international students and provide an opportunity for those who have the necessary qualifications and skills to find an Australian employer willing to sponsor them for a permanent visa.

Source  :  www.immigov.au

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Legislation has either been passed earlier this week or is about to be passed (I’m not sure which) that will have a substantial impact on some of the people who hope to apply to migrate to Australia but who have not yet lodged an application for a GSM visa. GSM = General Skilled Migration = no employer sponsorship. GSM visas can be unsponsored, State sponsored or family sponsored but they are not employer sponsored.

The relevant document is here:

http://www.comlaw.gov.au/ComLaw/Legi…0A091201EV.pdf

A well-known migration agent gave me his initial reaction to the document above in an e-mail yesterday evening. I quote verbatim:

Quote:
I was just reading changes coming in on 01 January 2010 require 175/176 applicants (in to-be- gazetted trade occupations) will require 12 months experience in that nominated trade occupation and not “in any skilled occupation.”So those tradies who’s recent experience does not exactly match their nominated occupation, had better try and lodge prior to 01 January 2010.

It could affect recognised tradespersons who are working as supervisors unless they can convince DIAC they are working hands-on in the nominated trade for at least 20 hours per week

It will affect the tradesman who has become a production manager or any other related or unrelated occupation

Bigger things happening on-shore with 885/886 applicants requiring to get suitable skills assessment before applying for the visa AND, for gazetted tradies, a requirement to get a skills assessment dated 01 January 2010 or later.

I wondered where my informant obtained his information till I happened to look at ComLaw for a completely unrelated purpose just now. As far as I can see, there is nothing on the DIAC website about these latest changes from 1st Jan 2010 as yet? I can’t find anything specific, anyway.

I think we will see more about all this soon – probably next week sometime, I suspect.

Cheers

Gill

Source  :  http://www.pomsinoz.com/forum/migration-issues/74537-significant-changes-gsm-program-1st-jan-2010-a.html

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The Notices of Legislative changes effective 14 September 2009, published on the website, do not come into effect till 12:00am AEST (GMT + 10) Monday 14 September 2009.

 See: All Notices of Legislation Changes at  :   http://www.immi.gov.au/legislation/amendments/

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1 July 2009 Legislation Change                                                                                                                           

From 1 July 2009, the Migration Regulations 1994 (‘the Regulations’) are amended to provide Retirement visa holders with full work rights by removing mandatory condition 8104 from the visa.

Current visa holders will not automatically receive the benefit of this change.

Retirement visas granted before 1 July 2009 will still have limited work rights (up to 20 hours per week).  Access to the no work limitation will take effect when the visa holder next renews his or her Retirement visa.

Source  :   www.immi.gov.au

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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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The strategy :  To work out how the changes to the health insurance rebate affect me.

I suppose it means I’ll be paying more for my health insurance. That’s the gist of it though it will depend on whether Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull delivers on his threat to block the legislation. As you may have picked up from the federal budget, the Government needs to find savings to fund higher pension payments.

One proposed measure is means testing the health insurance rebate, which currently allows you to claim a tax rebate of 30 per cent of the cost of your health insurance if you’re aged under 65, 35per cent if you’re 65 to 69 and 40 per cent if you’re 70 or older.

Most people ask their health fund to reduce their premiums to take account of the rebate rather than paying the full premium and claiming the rebate in their tax return. For someone under 65, a monthly insurance premium of $250 could be reduced to $175. That won’t change if you earn up to $75,000 if you’re single and $150,000 for families. But if your income is higher, your rebate will be reduced or cut out altogether.

How will that work? Let’s look at singles first. If you earn $75,001-$90,000, your rebate will be reduced to 20 per cent. If you earn $90,001-$120,000, the new rebate will be 10 per cent.

Once your income exceeds $120,000 you will be ineligible for the rebate.

For families, the combined income limits are $150,001-$180,000 for the 20per cent rebate, $180,001-$240,000 for the 10 per cent rebate and the rebate will disappear altogether once family income exceeds $240,000.

All income thresholds will be indexed to wages and will be adjusted for families with one child in the same way that thresholds are already adjusted for determining whether you have to pay the Medicare levy surcharge if you don’t have private health cover. The threshold is currently lifted by $1500 for each dependent child.

The Government says the definition of your income for the rebate will be the same as for the Medicare levy surcharge. Challenger’s head of technical services, Alex Denham, says this definition is changing from July 1 to include your taxable income, reportable fringe benefits, salary sacrificed to super or any personal deductible super contributions made and net investment losses. So higher-income earners won’t be able to use strategies such as salary sacrifice to get or increase their rebate.

Would I be better off dropping my health insurance and paying the Medicare levy surcharge? The proposed measures also include a rise in this surcharge precisely to stop this sort of behaviour.

The 1 per cent surcharge will rise to 1.25per cent once income exceeds $90,000 for singles or $180,000 for couples and to 1.5 per cent for incomes exceeding $120,000 or $240,000. That extra tax may cancel out any savings from dropping your health cover.

MLC’s head of technical services, Andrew Lawless, says a better option may be to make changes to your policy, such as increasing the excess you pay before claiming on the cover or reducing cover on ancillary benefits. However, to avoid the surcharge you must have hospital cover with an excess of $500 or less for singles or $1000 or less for families or couples per calendar year.

When will the changes come in? Not until July 1 next year, so you have time to check the final details if the measures are passed and weigh up your options.

It’s worth noting that the Medicare levy surcharge income limits will be indexed from their current levels of $70,000 for singles and $140,000 for couples to the new $75,000 and $150,000 levels at this time.

Source : www.watoday.com.au

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Colin Barnett is on the brink of caving in to worried Liberal backbenchers and accepting an 8pm closing for weeknight shopping rather than the 9pm time he took to the election last year.
  
The Premier has been softening the public up for an 8pm closing time in recent days and again said yesterday that it was an acceptable alternative. 
  
The West Australian understands that most Liberals don’t want 9pm and would prefer a 7pm closing time but are prepared to accept 8pm to save the Premier the embarrassment of being rolled by his own party.
  
Mr Barnett has been canvassing his MPs one-on-one in recent days and knows that 9pm is beyond his reach.

The Nationals say they will not support changes to shopping hours, which they fear would deliver a crucial blow to WA producers because it would increase the market share of big supermarkets
   
The Government will rely on Labor to get legislation on later weeknight shopping hours through Parliament but the ALP took a position of 7pm to the election and is not guaranteed to support a later closing time. A Labor spokeswoman said yesterday that shadow Cabinet and caucus would discuss the party’s position once the Government’s preference was known.
 
Cabinet discussed the shopping hours issue last Monday and Mr Barnett is expected to take his preferred position to the party room on Tuesday, but the Upper House is not sitting, and the meeting will be only for Assembly MPs, meaning that a vote on the issue will probably be delayed a week.
  
Mr Barnett said yesterday that most people in the retail industry, including the unions, favoured a 9pm closing time from Monday to Friday to bring all weeknights into line with existing late-night shopping.
  
“That’s a position I think is logical, however a number of people are saying 8pm might be better. I don’t think there’s a big difference between the two,” he said.
  
“To simply extend it to 7pm would be pointless.
  
“So, 8pm, yeah that’s OK, 9pm might be better but at least either of those would be a significant extension to weeknight shopping.”

But backbenchers are under pressure from small businesses to wind back the closing time, believing that the later hour is supported only by Coles and Woolworths.
  
Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief James Pearson urged politicians from both sides to “stand up to vested interest groups, which are determined to deny West Australians more choice and lower prices when they shop”.  

ROBERT TAYLOR, PETER KERR and AMANDA BANKS

Source www.thewest.com.au

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