Friday, 6th of June 2014 Issue #1 June
No Borders Newsletter



Issues of this month

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New visa arrangements for the offshore resources industry

New visa arrangements for offshore resources workers are designed to ensure minimal red tape and regulation for those facing the burden of unnecessary legislation implemented by the former Labor Government and due to come into effect on 29 June 2014.

Speaking at the 2014 Australian Resource People Summit in Perth, Minister Cash confirmed that the government continued to pursue the repeal of the Migration Amendment (Offshore Resources Activity) Act 2013 (or the 'ORA Act').

Minister Cash noted however that if the Senate did not pass the repeal bill before it is due to take effect, the new visa arrangements that have to be implemented have been designed to ensure minimal regulatory impact.

This legislation was rushed through the former Parliament under the previous government despite serious concerns from industry in relation to the impact of it and the fact that the legislation appeared to cater for sectional interests as opposed to the national interest.

The government understands the value of the offshore oil and gas industry to the national economy. We are concerned that the ORA Act will impose an additional regulatory burden, and additional costs, on this critical sector and have done our very best to ensure that this does not occur.'

'The new visas arrangements use existing visas that the industry is already familiar with. This will make it easier to manage the transition, and avoid the costs of developing and implementing a new visa'.

Under the new visa arrangements announced today, all people who are subject to the ORA Act will need to hold either a permanent visa, or one of the following:

  • the maritime crew visa for articled crew members of vessels who are participating in, or supporting, an offshore resources activity
  • the temporary work (short stay activity) (subclass 400) visa for people undertaking short-term, highly specialized, non-ongoing work
  • the temporary work (skilled) (subclass 457) visa for people being sponsored by an approved business for up to four years.
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More choice in visa English language tests

English testing

Visa applicants will have more choice in English language testing with the addition of more test options for temporary graduate, skilled, work and holiday, and former resident visas, Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Senator Michaelia Cash, said this week.

The changes, which come into effect in November, are in line with the department's focus on increasing competition in the English language testing market for visas.

"Applicants who need to provide the Department of Immigration and Border Protection with an English language test score as evidence of their English ability will be able to choose from two additional tests," Minister Cash said.

These tests are the Test of English Language as a Foreign Language internet-based test (TOEFL iBT) and the Pearson Test of English Academic.

Minister Cash said increasing the number of English language tests accepted by the department will provide greater choice for visa applicants and address any possible shortages in the number of places available to sit the test.

"The department expects to also receive test scores from the Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) test across visa programmes from early 2015, further expanding the English language test market," said the Minister.

The TOEFL iBT, Pearson and Cambridge tests have been accepted in the student visa programme since 2011.

Applicants planning to take an English language test before lodging their expression of interest or visa application from November 2014 can visit Department of Immigration and Border Protection website for information about minimum test score requirements and upcoming updates.

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Inherent unfairness to be introduced under proposed amendments to s48 restrictions

Vulnerable people with genuine claims will soon be precluded from raising them in a fresh visa application, simply because a previous application which they did not understand and which may have been made by someone else without their permission was refused. There are several amendments proposed in the Migration Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2014 but the amendments to section 48 remains the most contentious.

Section 48 of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth( (the Act) in general prohibits an individual whose onshore application for a visa has been refused or cancelled from making a further onshore application, with limited exceptions applying to the application ban.

Submissions to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee opposed the amendments for various reasons including the following (as summarised in the Parliamentary Library Bills Digest 4 June 2014):

  • the changes increase the potential for instances of injustice to arise as some vulnerable people will be denied the opportunity to present their claims for asylum in their own right
  • the changes will prohibit re-consideration of issues that have been considered in a previous application even though such an application may not have appropriately taken into account the views and capacity of a minor or other vulnerable person
  • the changes will adversely affect particularly vulnerable groups of asylum seekers due to factors entirely beyond their control
  • the changes could result in unintended consequences such as refoulement
  • the changes are not proportionate to the administrative burden on the Department
  • the changes raise doubts about Australia's compliance with international law such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
  • the retrospective nature of the changes is not fair for applicants
  • the changes are premature and misconceived and
  • the Minister's personal and non-compellable powers under section 48B of the Act to exclude the operation of the provision on public interest grounds is a grossly inadequate safeguard against refoulement for particularly vulnerable people subject to the prohibition in section 48A of the Act.
Migration act amendment
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A few more students eligible for speedy visa club

ADVANCED diploma students are the latest to be offered membership in the streamlined visa club.

The government has announced that low-risk providers offering these qualifications will be invited into the streamlined visa processing system, which makes it easier to recruit students offshore.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said the latest extension of SVP, to go into effect early next year, would ."

"However, it still leaves out of the loop a number of high quality public TAFE and private colleges who either don't have advanced diplomas or whose risk profile has been affected by certain student source countries."

Advanced diploma
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Fair Work Commission increases minimum wage by 3%

Wage increase

The wages of Australia's 1.5 million lowest paid workers will increase by an extra $18.70 per week from July in response to a decline in their living standards.

Fair Work Commission president Justice Iain Ross delivered the decision to increase the minimum wage by 3 per cent to $640.90 per week or $16.87 per hour.

Employer groups said the rise would cost jobs and dissuade businesses from offering extra hours. Unions said they were disappointed the increase was too small.

The commission rebuffed an appeal by the federal government to consider how low-income households would be better off without the carbon tax. But it did take into account the planned increase in superannuation contribution rates from July 1, this year.

The rise is lower than the $27 extra a week being sought by unions but higher than the maximum of $8.50 being ­pursued by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

"The decision means that low-paid workers, including cleaners, retail and hospitality staff, childcare workers, farm labourers, and factory workers, will fall even further behind the rest of the workforce," the Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Dave Oliver said.

Three per cent is higher than the 2.6 per cent awarded in 2013 and 2.9 per cent awarded in 2012.

We hope that you have found the information in this issue of our newsletter to be enriching and useful. Stay tuned for our next publication and if you would like to talk to us directly, please do not hesitate to email In addition, if you would like your contact details updated or removed from this distribution list or you know someone who would like to be added, please email us on the same address.

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