Friday, 18th of July 2014 Issue #2 July
No Borders Newsletter

TOP STORY

changes to occupational ceilings

Issues of this month

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Changes to Occupational Ceilings could affect you

Occupational Ceilings are state and government imposed limits on the issuing of Skilled Migrant visas for each profession.

Some of these changes that have come into affect might impact on your application for a Skilled Migrant visa based on the number of visas that will be issued for a specific profession.

The most important changes are:

  • The occupational ceilings have been announced for the 2014-15 year.
  • There have been some significant changes to the number of places allocated to Engineers, Accountants, Teachers, IT Professionals, Constructions Trades and Chefs.

Interestingly occupational ceilings will no longer apply to state nominated 190 and 489 visas.

Several Australian states have already announced their occupations lists for the 2014-15 and have started accepting visa applications based on the new conditions.

Changes to the Occupational Ceilings:

The Occupational Ceilings for most professions in most states have now been announced for the 2014-15 Financial Year.

In a positive change Occupational Ceilings will no longer apply to State Nominated visas - they will only apply to Skilled - Independent Subclass 189 visas and family sponsored Skilled Regional Subclass 489 visas.

Effectively this means that states can nominate occupations for Skilled Nominated Subclass 190 and Skilled Regional Subclass 489 visas even if the ceiling has been reached.

As a result, occupational ceilings are only published for occupations on the Skilled Occupations List Occupations, not all occupations on the Critical Skills Occupation List as was the case in previous years.

There have also been some changes in the places available for certain occupations:

Engineers: Good news for engineers is that an additional 2,530 places have been secured for the occupational ceiling. This is an encouraging move as this field was close to reaching the limit of its occupational ceiling in 2013.

Accountants: The occupational ceiling for accountants have been reduced of 4,242 places. Last program year, the ceiling was not close to being reached so we are hopeful that the ceiling reduction will not severely impact applicants.

Teachers: The reduction of 1,170 places for the occupational ceiling sounds alarming but is in fact not much cause for concern as applications in this sector have not even come near to making a dent in the available places in 2013.

IT Professionals: The number of available places under the occupational ceiling for IT professionals has been increased by 1,132 places. This is very encouraging at these occupations were close to meeting the occupational ceiling last year.

Construction Trades and Chefs: While the occupational ceiling for construction trades have been decreased by 2,168 places and 1353 places for chefs, as announced earlier this year; you now longer need a sponsored visa if you are employed in many of the positions in this field.

Registered Nurses: Occupational ceilings for registered nurses have by far seen the biggest increase in places – with 15,042 places available on the list. This is more than double the quota of any other occupational group.

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Officials stress importance of making sure a migration agent is registered

Registred migration agent

Australian visa applicants are being reminded by the Department of Immigration that if they choose to use a migration agent, it is important to check they are registered.

Agents should be registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA), which has more than 5,000 registered agents listed on its website.

‘It’s against the law for anyone who is not registered to advise about eligibility for a visa or provide assistance beyond clerical help with a visa or citizenship application,’ said a Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) spokesman.

Registered migration agents are skilled professionals with up-to-date knowledge of Australian migration law, and are bound by the professional standards set out in the migration agents’ Code of Conduct.

‘This provides you with a level of protection. On the other hand, an unregistered agent may not have current knowledge about the law and ignore any form of consumer protection,’ the spokesman added.

Migrant agents should also be realistic about the chances of getting a visa. ‘They shouldn’t give you false hope and can never guarantee you a visa. You should discuss with your agent what your chances of success are and your agent should provide you with an agreement of services and fees before they start work or take any money from you,’ the spokesman explained.

The agreement should give a breakdown of the costs involved in preparing and submitting a visa application, including the agent’s professional fees and any visa application charges.

One of the benefits of using a registered migration agent is that they must charge you reasonable fees for their services. The average range of fees charged by registered migration agents is published by MARA on its website.

Agent must also keep applicants informed about the progress of their visa application and must let them know in writing about the outcome as soon as possible. At the end of the process, or after completing a large block of work, the agent must give you an invoice for the work they have completed.

‘It’s important to know that agent fees can vary and may depend on the type of visa you need, the amount of time it will take to prepare your application, or if you need extra help or have complex circumstances. For example, your agent might charge more if you have dependents on your application such as children. Some agents who are very experienced and highly qualified may charge a higher fee,’ the DIBP spokesman explained.

‘If your agent’s fees seem too high, discuss this with them before signing a contract. You should consider talking to a few agents about their services and fees before you choose one and sign a written contract with them,’ he added.

If there are problems applicants are advised to speak to their agent first but if that doesn’t work MARA may be able to help. ‘But if you get migration advice from someone who is not a registered migration agent, the Authority cannot assist you if there’s a problem,’ the spokesman concluded.

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Controversy over need for overseas accountants in Australia

A row has broken out in Australia as to whether or not the country has enough qualified accountants, with claims that there is no need to recruit abroad.

Accountants are named on the official overseas skilled jobs list, published by the Department of Immigration and Border Control (DIBP), but some believe there is an adequate supply of suitably qualified people already in Australia.

The Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency recently said there was a risk of an oversupply of accountants in the medium term. However, it advised the government to issue preferential visas to accountants because historical data and demographic trends suggest that domestic supply will be insufficient to meet demand for accountants in the long term.

The decision by the DIBP to keep accounting on the skilled occupation immigration list has upset many accountants, who say there are not enough jobs and competition for positions is fierce.

On top of this, immigration expert Bob Birrell of Monash University has claimed that foreign accountants are being allowed into Australia under a scheme designed more to prop up the lucrative market for international students, rather than to ensure an adequate supply of accountants.

He argues that 'accountant' remaining on the skilled immigration list is actually about the Australian government trying to protect the overseas student industry, with about 25% of overseas business students opting for accounting studies. When they graduate, they can stay on for 18 months on a temporary graduate visa.

'What I find stunning is that in circumstances where you've had no increase in employment in the level of accountants for the past six years, and the Department of Employment estimates there is a serious oversupply, that AWPA nonetheless recommends keeping accountants on the skilled occupation list and the government has accepted that,' said Birrell.

However, the major organisations representing accountants, CPA Australia and Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, said there is a genuine shortage of accountants in the short, medium and longer term.

'Our submission to the government regarding keeping accounting on the skilled occupation list was based on research into future labour market conditions and the importance of skilled migration to Australia's cultural and economic growth. Accountants are projected to rank among the most highly sought after occupations over the short, medium and longer term,' they said in a joint statement.

Overseas Accountants
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Growing percentage of Australians favour higher migration intake

Higher Migration Intake

One-fifth of Australians favour a higher migration intake while more than half are happy with the current intake a Newspoll survey has uncovered.

Twenty-two per cent of those surveyed actually wanted to see Australia up their intake of immigrants, with European, African and Asian migrants having the most support from locals.

Twenty-six per cent of participants wanted to see more European migration, while African migration was closely behind, with 20 per cent and Asian migration at 18 per cent support.

In contrast, just 14 per cent of Australians want to see more Muslim migrants, and 37 per cent favour a cut.

Low income earners were most likely to agree that immigration intake was already too high, and 27 per cent of Australians wanted to see the whole program cut.

Although Australians might be increasing their tolerance to migrant intake, many still feel the country isn't as open-minded as it should be.

One in five people felt that the world 'racist' described Australians "a lot", while two-thirds believed Australians were 'a little' racist.

Middle income earners and older Australians were the only group to say they felt Australians were tolerant, while women were more likely to say that Australians were "very racist"

Australia has peacefully absorbed 7.5 million migrants since the end of the last World War, including 800,000 refugees according to the Minister of Social Services.

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 service@noborders-group.com. 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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