New Work and Holiday visa arrangement signed by Australia and Israel

Australia and Israel signed a reciprocal Work and Holiday visa (subclass 462) arrangement on 22 October 2014.

Soon young adults, aged 18–30 years, from Australia and Israel will be able to experience a once in a lifetime opportunity to play, work and study in each other’s country for up to 12 months. There will be 500 places on offer for each country per programme year.

Our website has detailed information about the Work and Holiday visa and its eligibility criteria.

Once a start date has been determined for this visa programme, eligible young adults from both countries will be able to apply for this visa. This process can take some time, however, we will announce the start date on our website and social media channels.

Interested in a working holiday in another country? Find out more about other working holiday arrangements overseas on our website.

Be invested— benefitting Australia through investment migration

The Australian Government announced changes to investor visas designed to enhance the attractiveness of investment migration in Australia on 14 October 2014. The announcement was made following a departmental review of the programme.

Significant Investor visas are a niche category of Australia’s skilled migration programme. They make substantial contributions to Australia’s economy, with more than AUD 2 billion injected into Australia’s economy since their inception in November 2012.

In order to be eligible for the Significant Investor visa, applicants must invest AUD 5 million into approved investments in Australia. Visa holders must then maintain their investment for at least four years in order to be eligible for permanent residency.

Exciting changes to the programme will see the creation of the Premium Investor visa on 1 July 2015. This visa will allow applicants who invest AUD 15 million in approved investments to be eligible for permanent residency after 12 months. These changes are good news for investment in Australia, and will also enhance the attractiveness of the programme for potential applicants.

To ensure investors’ dollars work hard for Australia, Austrade will now assume policy responsibility for approving the investments that qualify for the programme.

Significant Investor visa nominations will continue to be made by states and territory governments. Austrade will also be able to nominate applicants for this visa type, as well as be the only nominating agency for the Premium Investor visa.

Learn more about investment migration to Australia.

Keep following our blog for news on upcoming changes to Australia’s Business Innovation and Investment programme.

Are you working in your nominated position?

240 x 320 - Office WorkerThis post is part of a series of fictional scenarios designed to help temporary skilled workers holding 457 visas and their sponsors to better understand their responsibilities and obligations. It is also designed to assist you in avoiding visa scams and fraudulent activity. The department takes allegations of fraud very seriously. There are significant penalties if you are caught engaging in fraudulent activity.

Working in your nominated position

  • You must be working in your nominated position. If you are found to be working in a different position your visa can be cancelled.
  • Your sponsor also has an obligation to make sure you are working in your nominated position. The sponsor can face severe penalties if this does not happen.
  • If you want to change your position, your sponsor must submit a new nomination application. You cannot work in a different position until it is approved by the department.
  • Woking outside of your nominated position is a breach of the conditions of your visa.

If you know of someone not working in their nominated position please inform the department through the Immigration dob-in line.

Please note: names of people and businesses in this story are fictional for the purposes of this case study.

Vikram has spent the last four years in Australia studying. While Vikram was studying he was working 40 hours a fortnight at a local restaurant as a waiter. As he has almost finished his course, Vikram was becoming nervous about his future in Australia; he wanted to stay but did not know if he was eligible for any other visas.

Vikram’s boss at the restaurant offered to sponsor him as a restaurant manager. Vikram had never worked as a restaurant manager and his only work experience was in waiting tables. When Vikram expressed these concerns to his boss, his boss told him that he would not expect Vikram to work as the manager, but they could just tell the department that this was the role he had already been filling at the restaurant and that he would continue in that role. Vikram’s boss said he would organise all the paperwork.

Vikram’s boss said that as he was helping him out with his visa to stay in Australia, he wanted Vikram to pay $30,000. This was a lot of money but as Vikram wanted to remain in Australia he agreed to this proposal.

Vikram had to pay $10,000 to his boss before he submitted the visa application and $20,000 once the visa had been approved.

Vikram had a very nervous wait while his visa was processed as he knew he wasn’t being honest with the department. He was very relieved when he received notification of his visa approval and was looking forward to his life in Australia. Even though $30,000 was a lot of money, he was happy to be remaining in Australia.

Vikram continued to wait tables and perform other duties in the restaurant. Several months after his visa was approved, monitoring officers from the department visited the business to see if the sponsor and visa holders were complying with their obligations.  Vikram was asked about his role in the business. He was asked questions about his experience and the duties he performed on a daily basis. Vikram was nervous and concerned because he was struggling to answer their questions and knew he was being untruthful.

Following the monitoring audit it was determined that Vikram was not working as the restaurant manager but rather as a waiter. As Vikram was not working in his nominated position, he breached his visa conditions and his visa was cancelled. The sponsor was also penalised for employing Vikram in an incorrect position. The sponsor was barred from sponsoring skilled workers for the next five years and received a substantial fine.

Vikram was disappointed. Not only would he have to leave Australia, he had lost $30,000 by engaging in fraudulent conduct. He was also informed by the department that as his visa had been cancelled he was unlikely to be successful in obtaining a new visa for at least three years.

Are you working for your nominated sponsor? If this question concerns you or someone you know, read next week’s blog post.

Beware of visa scams

Over the next few weeks, this blog will host a series of fictional scenarios designed to help temporary skilled workers holding 457 visas and their sponsors to better understand their responsibilities and obligations. This series is also designed to assist you in avoiding visa scams and fraudulent activity. The department takes allegations of fraud very seriously. There are significant penalties if you are caught engaging in fraudulent activity.

Visa Scams240 x 320 - Chef

  • Be suspicious of anyone offering to sell you a visa. No one should be charging you, in order to get sponsorship for a job and a subclass 457 visa.
  • The department is not able to assist you in regaining money lost through your involvement in a visa scam.

If you have been approached by someone offering to sell you a visa or nomination, we want to know about it. Visa scams should be reported to the department through the Immigration dob-in line.

Please note: names of people and businesses in this story are fictional for the purposes of this case study.

Chang is a qualified chef. He wanted to find employment in Australia in his field. Chang thought he and his family might like living and working in Australia and they could consider applying for permanent residence.

A friend told Chang that he knew of someone who helped to find people jobs in Australia and could organise sponsorship under the subclass 457 visa programme. Chang’s friend provided him with an email address to find out more.

Chang emailed the contact his friend had given him and received an immediate response from a person called Jo. Jo said that he could find a job for Chang as a chef with a good restaurant in Sydney and asked Chang to meet him at a local café to discuss the process further.

Chang met Jo at a local restaurant and Jo explained to him that in order to secure a job and visa sponsorship for Chang he would need to pay $5000 now and then $5000 once the job was secured. Chang thought this was a lot of money and asked if he could speak with the restaurant in Sydney first. Jo said that he would ask the restaurant manager to email Chang with more details.

Chang received an email from Sam at Roasted Roo Bar and Bistro in Sydney. Sam said that they would like to offer him a chef position and emailed him a copy of an employment contract. Chang looked at Roasted Roo Bar and Bistro on the internet and thought it looked like a great place to work.

Chang organised another meeting with Jo. They met at the same restaurant and Chang gave Jo $5000 to secure the job with Roasted Roo Bar and Bistro.

Later that day Chang received an email from Sam at Roasted Roo Bar and Bistro in Sydney with a formal job offer. The email also asked Chang to provide another $5000 to Jo, so that all the paperwork could be lodged with the department. Chang made this payment to Jo.

Chang did not hear anything for a couple of weeks and sent many emails to Jo, but did not receive any response. Chang sent emails to Sam at Roasted Roo Bar and Bistro and did not receive any response. Chang contacted the department and was advised that no application had been lodged with the department. Chang became very worried and called Roasted Roo Bar and Bistro in Sydney to speak with Sam. Roasted Roo Bar and Bistro’s manager said no-one called Sam worked there and they did not need any chefs. Chang explained that he had been in email contact with Sam and gave them Sam’s email address. Roasted Roo Bar and Bistro’s manager said the email address for Sam was not linked to their restaurant and that they had never heard of him.

Chang was really upset as he realised he had been the victim of a scam and had lost a lot of his hard-earned savings.

Stay tuned for another scenario next week about working in your nominated position.

Are you interested in Australia’s 2015-16 permanent migration programme?

Every year, we set a migration programme to best support Australia’s economic and social goals. This year’s programme looks like this:

Visual guide to Migration Programme in 2014-15

To help set 2015-16’s programme, we have prepared a discussion paper, which is now online at www.immi.gov.au/pub-res/Pages/discussion-papers/overview.aspx?heading=the-2015-16-migration-programme. This discussion paper provides a broad starting point for thinking about the best settings for migration levels next year.

At the end of the discussion paper, you will find a short survey. This is your chance to tell us what you think is the optimal size and composition of the permanent migration programme. Your responses will be confidential.

So have your say – read the discussion paper, take the survey and let your government know your thoughts before Friday, 5 December 2014.

Migration agent fees and charges – part 2

You might have read our recent post on how much a migration agent should cost. This is the second part to our series and focuses on when you should pay your agent.

When should you pay your agent?

Some agents may ask you to pay in advance of services being provided, while others will charge when their services are complete.

If your agent asks you to pay in advance or takes money before completing all their services to you, your payment must go 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:

  1. They need to pay disbursements on your behalf such as your visa application charge
  2. They need to be reimbursed for disbursements they have paid on your behalf with their own money
  3. They receive their professional fees once they have completed a certain amount of work.

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.

Before an agent can take money out of the clients’ account to pay their professional fees, they should give you a written ‘Statement of Services.’  This must show:

  • the work your agent has done for you so far
  • how much your 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.

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.

Migration Agent Fees and Charges P2

What if an agent changes their fees?

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

You can find a table of average fees charged by registered migration agents for common visa types on the Authority’s website. See Agent fees

Information on agent fees is also provided in the following languages:

Agent fees in Arabic – رسومالوكلاء

Agent fees in Chinese -移民代理费用

Agent fees in Russian – Вознаграждение за агентские услуги

Agent fees in Vietnamese – Lệ phí Đại diện Di trú

Agent fees in Hindi – एजेंटकीफ़ीस

Agent fees in Farsi رسومالوكلاء

Need migration advice? There are over 5000 Australian registered migration agents in Australia.  Find one at www.mara.gov.au

Migration agent fees and charges – part 1

How much should a migration agent cost?

If you have decided to use a migration agent registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (the Authority), you should find out in advance what fee they will charge you.

Registered migration agents can only charge you a fee that is fair and reasonable. You might notice that the fees charged by migration agents vary. This is because an agent’s fee depends on:

  • the type of visa you are applying for
  • the level of service you want
  • how complex your application is
  • the experience and qualifications of the agent. If your agent is a lawyer, a specialist, or has many years of experience, their fees might be higher.

You can find a table of average fees charged by registered migration agents for common visa types on the Authority’s website. See Agent fees

Many agents offer to discuss your visa application with you in an initial consultation before you decide to use them. This can happen face-to-face, over the telephone, or via internet links depending on where you are.  These initial consultations can be provided free or for a fee. If it’s not clear, you should find out from the agent before the consultation whether or not you will be charged for it.

Some agents also provide an online form on their website that assesses your eligibility for a visa. Just like an initial consultation, some agents offer this service free while others charge for it. The agent’s website should indicate whether you have to pay for the online assessment.

You should use the initial consultation as an opportunity to ask the agent for a written estimate of their fees.  This will give you an idea of how much you need to pay altogether and what you are paying for. This should include the visa application charge and all other fees required to be paid. Professional fees are usually charged by the hour or by the service provided.

As well as the fees paid to your agent, you will also need to pay a fee to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) for your visa. This is known as a visa application charge (VAC). Visa application charges will vary depending on the type of visa you are applying for and may change from time to time.

Many agents will pay the visa application charge on your behalf, but this will be in addition to the fee they charge you for their services. This is called a disbursement. Remember also that you may need to pay your agent any credit card charges they have incurred in paying the visa application charge. You should have a look at the visa pricing table on the DIBP website to find out what the charge for your application will be. See Visa pricing table

If you decide you want to accept the agent’s estimate of fees, you will be asked to sign an ‘Agreement for Services and Fees.’ This agreement should set out:

  • services to be performed
  • fees for those services
  • disbursements.

Do not pay your agent until you have read, understood and agreed to the Agreement for Services and Fees.

More information about migration agent fees and charges will be posted shortly. In the meantime, if you would like to read more about migration agents, refer to some of our earlier posts:

‘Do you want help with your visa application?’

What to expect from a registered migration agent’

Need migration advice? There are over 5000 registered migration agents in Australia. Find one at www.mara.gov.au

New work and holiday arrangement for Portugal and Australia

IMG_0680Australia and Portugal signed a reciprocal Work and Holiday visa (subclass 462) arrangement on 25 September 2014.

This means young adults, aged
18–30 years, from both countries will soon be able to experience a once in a lifetime opportunity to work and holiday in each other’s country, lasting up to 12 months. There will be 200 places on offer for each country per programme year.

Our website has detailed information about the Work and Holiday visa and its eligibility criteria.

Once a start date has been determined we will announce it on our website and social media channels.

Australians can also find out more about other working holiday arrangements overseas on our website.

Robust New Foundations – an independent review into 457 programme integrity

You might have read in our previous post, that an Independent Review into Integrity in the Subclass 457 Programme was announced on 25 February 2014.

On 10 September 2014, the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection released the independent panel’s final report of the Independent Review into Integrity in the Subclass 457 Programme, titled Robust New Foundations: A Streamlined, Transparent and Responsive System for the 457 Programme.

The panel’s report identified 22 recommendations and addresses a number of elements of the 457 programme.  The report is now available to download from the department’s website.

457 Review CoverThe review was informed by a large amount of feedback from a diverse range of stakeholders, which included comments from this blog, as well as a Facebook ‘live chat.’ In their report, the panel wrote about how social media helped them reach a wide audience as part of their consultation process –if you are interested, you can check out their summary on page 114 in the report.

On behalf of the panel, thank you to those who participated and provided feedback through the various social media channels.

 

Working while on your Student visa

The work conditions offered as part of a student visa provide an opportunity for international students to gain cultural experience during their stay in Australia, and can also help them improve their English language skills. However it is important to recognise that international students should not rely on work in Australia to pay for the costs of their studies and living expenses.  Most international students are restricted to a maximum of 40 hours work per fortnight while their course is in session and may only work unlimited hours during scheduled course breaks. These conditions protect students from the pressures of excessive work commitments which might mean that they are unable to finish their course successfully.Working While on Your Student Visa

The below examples illustrate how work conditions on a student visa operate:

  1. Sally arrives in Australia three weeks before her Certificate III in Hospitality starts. Within one week, she finds a job as waitress. She begins working two-weeks after her arrival. Sally is in breach of her work conditions as she is working before her course has commenced.
  2. Abu came to Australia with his wife Jane on a Higher Education Sector (subclass 573) visa. Jane is studying a bachelor degree at university. Abu decides to take on a full time job with a local accounting firm. He is in breach of his visa conditions. This is because Subclass 573 dependants are not allowed to work more than 40 hours a fortnight unless the student is studying a masters or doctorate degree .
  3. Fatima is studying commercial cookery in Australia on a Vocational Education and Training sector (subclass 572) visa and is offered some work experience during the holidays. She works 75 hours a fortnight. Fatima is not breaching her work conditions as she is allowed to work unlimited hours while her course is not in session.
  4. Sajeed is working while studying in Australia on a Vocational Education and Training (subclass 572) visa. His roster for the next month looks like this:
Week one Week two Week three Week four
30 hours 10 hours 35 hours 5 hours

Sajeed is in breach of his visa conditions. This is because he will work more than 40 hours in week two and week three (he will work 45 hours). Sajeed should discuss this with his employer and ask to have his roster updated. For more information on the 40 hour a fortnight work condition, please visit our website.

  1. Ellen is studying her PhD. She is also tutoring at the university for about 50 hours a fortnight. Ellen is not breaching her student visa conditions. This is because the Postgraduate Research Sector visa (subclass 574) does not have a restriction on the number of hours a student can work. Ellen will still have to be careful to ensure she is achieving satisfactory progress on her PhD.

For more information on your rights at work, please see this blog post. For more information on visa conditions please visit our website.