Friday, 17th of October 2014 Issue #2 October
No Borders Newsletter


australia visa

Issues of this month

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457 Visa to Be Reformed; New Premium Investor Visa to Be Created in Australia

Australia's 457 visa programme for skilled migrants is to be reformed with strong safeguards against abuse, the government has announced.

In a joint statement, Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Minister for Industry Ian McFarlane and Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Scott Morrison said that the 457 programme must be a means of filling genuine skills gaps in the local labour market while not placing unnecessary administrative burdens on business.

The reform follows an independent review of the 457 programme and will include streamlining the processing of sponsorship, nomination and visa applications to reward low-risk applicants and refocus compliance and monitoring activities on high risk applicants.

  • The sponsorship approval period will be increased from 12 to 18 months for start-up businesses, to give start-ups more time to make their businesses sustainable.
  • There will be greater flexibility in relation to English language testing and skill requirements for 457 applicants, to ensure that the standards required are appropriate for the industries and occupations being sought.
  • The Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold will be retained at $53,900, but this figure will be reviewed within the next two years.

Safeguards will remain in place to ensure that the 457 visa programme is not rorted. It will continue to be a requirement that a foreign worker receives at least the same market rates and conditions that are paid to an Australian doing the same job in the same workplace.

Alongside, the Significant Investor Visa programme is to be expanded and improved.

  • At present, SIVs are available for applicants having an eligible investment in Australia of A$5 million, for a minimum of four years.
  • There will be a new Premium Investor Visa (PIV), offering a more expeditious, 12 month pathway to permanent residency than the SIV, for those with a minimum of $15 million to invest.
  • The changes to the SIV will take effect during the 2014/2015 financial year, with the Premium Investor Visa to be introduced from 01 July 2015.

The Government said it will soon make further announcements on the recommendations of reviews into both the 457 and SIV programmes.

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Latest Advice on Using Migration Agents in Australia Focuses on Costs

Using Migration agents

People using migration agents in Australia for their visa applications and or advice need to be aware of what the costs might be.

Advice from the Department of Immigration and Border Control (DIBP) includes checking the arrangements in advance and being conscious of using agents who are registered.

For example, if an agent asks for payment in advance or takes money before completing all their services to, clients should make sure the payment goes into the agent's 'clients' account.'

'This must be separate from their business operating accounts or personal bank accounts. The only time an agent can use money from this account is when they need to pay disbursements on your behalf such as your visa application charge or they need to be reimbursed for disbursements they have paid on your behalf with their own money,' said a DIBP spokesman.

'If a visa application has several parts, for example, under the Employer Nominated Scheme or a visa with a skills assessment component, your agent may expect payment on completion of each component rather than at the end when all work for the entire visa application is complete,' the spokesman explained.

He also pointed out that before an agent can take money out of the clients' account to pay their professional fees, they should give the applicant a written 'Statement of Services.' This must show the work the agent has done so far and how much the agent has charged for that completed work and whether it is charged by service or by the hour.

'The Statement of Services should only list work already performed rather than to be performed. It should not include any services that are not listed in your Agreement for Services and Fees,' the spokesman said.

He added that if an agent requires payment upon completion of work, you will pay for their professional fees in one payment when all services have been delivered.

Whether an agent decides to charge you up-front or after completing services, they must issue an invoice for their professional fees and for each disbursement. After you pay each invoice, they must provide you with a receipt for each amount paid.

Also, the migration agent must inform a client as soon as they become aware of any change to the fees they will charge, for example, extra work the agent did not know about when they agreed to work.

'They must inform you in writing about the extra cost and the total likely cost as a result of the change in fees. Your agent cannot do work for you in a way that increases the cost of the work, for example, by seeking advice from specialists when it's not needed,' said the spokesman.

All agents are registered and monitored by the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA) and it has a list of fees on its website. 'Consider talking to a few agents about their service and fees, before you choose one and sign a written contract with them,' said a MARA spokesman.

There is also a list of agents who have been sanctioned on MARA's website along with a list of lapsed agents and disciplinary actions.

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Australian Farmers Push for Changes to Seasonal Visa Rules

Australian Farmers

Farmers in Western Australia want the country's visa system to be changed to allow them to repeat hire overseas workers on a seasonal basis.

Every year the farmers need seasonal staff to work during busy periods such as seed time and harvest but finding local people for short term work can be difficult.

Under the current visa arrangements it is often not possible to hire the same people on a seasonal basis despite the farmers wanting experienced and good workers and workers wanting to come back.

They have been lobbying assistant immigration minister Michaelia Cash who has said that she is not totally against the plan. The problem with the 457 visa, the most popular visa for temporary overseas workers, is that holders need to work on a full time basis and not seasonally.

This means that every year farmers have to look for new staff and are finding it increasingly hard to fill in the gaps.

On top of this Western Australian farms are more geographically isolated than anywhere in the country and farmer say it is unrealistic to expect farmers to pay for full time workers when they weren't needed.

They want the system changed to suit modern day requirements, with allowance for Australian travellers to return to overseas seasonal working situations such as in the snow fields in Canada.

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Positive Outlook for Many Job Sectors in Australia to End of 2014

Job seekers in Australia can look forward to cautiously optimistic hiring conditions in the country in the final quarter of this year in many employment sectors.

Some 19% of employers expect to increase staffing levels in the October to December period; 9% forecast a decrease and 70% anticipate no change, according to the latest outlook report from Manpower.

This results in a Net Employment Outlook of +10%. Once the data is adjusted to allow for seasonal variation, the Outlook also stands at +10% and is the strongest reported since the third quarter of 2012.

The firm says that hiring prospects remain relatively stable when compared with the previous quarter and have improved by seven percentage points year-on-year.

Staffing levels are expected to grow in all eight regions during the next three months. In the Northern Territory employers report the strongest hiring plans with a Net Employment Outlook of +17%.

Steady payroll gains are also forecast in Victoria, where the outlook stands at +14%, and in New South Wales, with an outlook of +12%. Employers in Queensland report respectable hiring plans with an outlook of +11% and the outlook stands at +10% in Australia Capital Territory (ACT).

Some payroll gains are expected in Tasmania and Western Australia, with outlooks of +8% and +7%, respectively, while the most cautious outlook of +3% is reported in South Australia.

When compared with the third quarter of 2014, employers report stronger hiring prospects in five of the eight regions, with the most noteworthy improvement of 18 percentage points reported in ACT.

Elsewhere, Queensland employers report an increase of four percentage points. The outlook for New South Wales is two percentage points stronger. However, hiring prospects weakened in three regions, including South Australia and Northern Territory, where Outlooks decline by two percentage points.

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Australia Named Perfect Place to Work, Live and Retire by British Expats

Australia is the most popular destination for British expats and 87% of those who live there intend to do so for the long term, a new survey has found.

For the majority, 87%, the reason for moving to Australia is a better environment and quality of life for their children, according to the latest annual study by NatWest International Personal Banking.

Some 73% say they have seen their health improve since moving to Australia and 68% say they are wealthier as they have more disposable income. A further 88% rate the state of the economy highly.

For 84%, the Australian sunshine is one of the top five reasons for living there, so much so that 87% will remain in Australia indefinitely, with 26% of the expats living in the country already retired.

'Our seven year Quality of Life Index has shown Australia to be consistently popular with British expats,' said Dave Isley, head of NatWest International Personal Banking.

'Who can blame the many Brits who have decided to make their home in this sunny country, which has fared reasonably well during the financial crisis. They believe Australia offers a better quality of life for them and their children, a healthier lifestyle, plus they get a suntan to top it off,' he added.

Australia has consistently been in the top three of the survey rankings since 2009. The country was third in 2009, top in 2010, third again in 2011, second in 2012 and top again last year and this year.

australia uk

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