Last weekend, the department attended the
Working Abroad Expo in Kuala Lumpur and gave residents the opportunity to speak to our experts about migrating to Australian on a skilled visa. This opportunity presents itself again, specifically to anyone who lives in Singapore as DIAC will attend the expo in Singapore on May 11-12.
Our experts will be available to talk to you throughout the day about the different visa options available for living and working in Australia. They will also answer any questions about submitting an expression of interest through the SkillSelect website and will present each day from 1.15–2.00 pm.
When: May 11-12, 11.00 am to 4.00 pm
Where: Traders Hotel Singapore, 1A Cuscaden Road, Singapore
To register online or for more information, visit www.Workingabroad.net/exhibitions-and-events/singapore/
The Working Abroad Expo in Kuala Lumpur saw around 1000 attendees over the weekend of May 4-5. Many attendees found the information presented by our experts to be very valuable.
If you are unable to attend the expo in Singapore then you can learn more about SkillSelect by visiting www.immi.gov.au/skills/skillselect/
Remember, there is no better time to express your interest through SkillSelect, so read about our top 10 tips here:
Changes have been made to the cancellation regime for student visa holders who breach their visa conditions. Automatic and mandatory cancellations no longer exist and departmental officers now use a discretionary framework to consider breaches of visa conditions.
Automatic and mandatory student visa cancellations were abolished on 13 April 2013. This means that students who do not meet attendance or course progress requirements, or work for more than 40 hours per fortnight no longer face automatic or mandatory cancellation of their visa.
All international students are required to abide by their visa conditions, however if they do breach them they are now subject to a discretionary cancellation framework. The discretionary framework allows departmental officers to take the circumstances of an individual student into consideration when assessing visa condition breaches and making a decision on whether or not to cancel a visa.
The discretionary framework will lead to fairer outcomes for students. For example, it will enable the department to consider individual circumstances, such as where a student may be struggling with particular unit choices and could benefit from a change of course or education provider.
The move to a discretionary framework does not change an education provider’s responsibility to report a student for breaching a visa condition. Providers still have to advise a student when they have breached a visa condition that they may be reported to the department. The provider should also have in place a process for the student to appeal. If an appeal is unsuccessful an education provider must report the student to the department so that a case officer can consider the breach under the discretionary cancellation framework.
More information about the cessation of automatic and mandatory cancellation is available on the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s website www.immi.gov.au/students/.
Australian visa holders are giving employers, education providers and other third parties evidence of their visa status quicker and easier thanks to VEVO Email— a new tool that enables visa holders to email their details to a third party directly from VEVO.
Visa Entitlement Verification Online or VEVO is a free online service that gives visa holders, employers and other registered organisations access to visa entitlements and status information 24 hours a day.
Australian authorities no longer require visa holders to have a visa label in their passport, with VEVO now the preferred method for checking work, study and residence entitlements of visa holders.
VEVO helps millions of visa holders and organisations find and check visa details every year. And now that most visa holders need to pay a visa evidence charge for a printed visa label, more and more people are logging on to VEVO. This year we have seen a 36 per cent rise in visa holders using VEVO to check their entitlements.
Throughout this year, we are improving VEVO so it continues to meet the needs of visa holders and organisations, quickly and effectively. In March 2013, in addition to introducing VEVO Email, we made changes that allow users to see if a visa holder is currently in Australia or overseas. This is important because entitlements for the holders of some visas, such as student visas, can change according to whether they are in Australia, or yet to enter the country.
Following user feedback, we’ve also extended the VEVO password expiry time from 28 to 90 days, which will help users keep track of their password.
Later in the year, organisational users will also be able to manage their own VEVO account, making it easier for them to use VEVO at any time, as they will no longer need to wait for service centre support during standard office hours.
Watch our latest video about checking your details using VEVO.
Visit VEVO online to find out how VEVO can help you.
VEVO—anywhere, anytime, online.
By any measure the size of our skilled migration program is impressive. Last year almost 130 000 skilled visa holders settled in Australia—accounting for more than 60 per cent of all permanent places. Taking a longer term view, almost one million skilled visas have been issued in the past decade.
In a country of only 22 million, numbers of this scale have wide-ranging impacts. Part of our remit is to look beyond these facts and figures to examine how well new migrants are settling into our society. One way we do this is through the Continuous Survey of Australia’s Migrants (CSAM), a survey the department commissions to report on the labour market integration of recently arrived migrants.
See: CSAM Fact Sheet
The good news is that latest findings from this survey are positive, indicating skilled migrants outperform the typical Australian.
For instance, at the six month stage, unemployment among skilled migrants sits at about five per cent, a figure on par with the national average. Given the dual challenges of competing for work in an unfamiliar labour market and adjusting to a new society, this is not a bad result.
An additional six months in Australia sees further improvement. Unemployment among the skilled cohort falls to about two per cent, the proportion in skilled work increases from 68 per cent to 73 per cent and average earnings increase by $4000per year.
Employment outcomes of skilled migrants and general population, six and 12 months after arrival/grant of visa
Moving from the general to the more specific, the CSAM also reveals three tiers of performance among different categories of skilled migrants.
In this category are onshore skilled independents, who are former international students who were accepted as skilled migrants at the end of their studies. Their relative youth makes them less competitive against older more experienced workers for well paying, highly skilled jobs. As a result many are either entering the professional labour market in entry level positions or are taking on less skilled work until something better comes along.
Those sponsored for skilled migration by state governments or family members fall into this group. As they are generally older and more experienced than onshore skilled independents they are more likely to be found in skilled work and earn $8000 more per year on average.
Given that their visa conditions require sponsorship in a full-time skilled job, it is reassuring, but hardly surprising that employer sponsored migrants appear in this category. Also featuring in this elite group are offshore independents. Their appearance is a pay-off for their qualifications, more extensive work experience, and the fact they don’t get any concessions in the General Skilled Migration points test, unlike state and family sponsored. These outcomes clearly support recent skilled migration reforms which gave emphasis to employer sponsored categories and highly skilled independent skilled migrants with workforce experience.
Employment outcomes by skill category at 12 months
Never let it rest…
While the CSAM provides evidence that support recent skilled migration reforms, it does reveal a diversity of employment outcomes. In a wider context the needs of the Australian labour market are continually changing and the global competition for skills is increasing. For these reasons there is an ongoing need to make continued use of this survey.
Until your good is better, and your better is your best
This will ensure that our skilled migration program and the range of policy tools such as the points test, the skilledoccupation List and SkillSelect which help in deciding its size and composition are delivering the workers Australia needs.
See:CSAM Cohorts 1 to 5 Report
Kruno Kukoc, First Assistant Secretary Migration and Visa Policy Division. Responsible for overseeing the policy development and implementation of Australia’s permanent migration and temporary entry programs.
The past year was an important year for the migration program and a range of temporary entry programs. We implemented a number of changes that were designed to improve responsiveness to Australia’s economic needs, strengthen program integrity and, where possible, streamline our processes.
With the new year well and truly underway, I thought this would be a good opportunity to run through the year that was.
The Migration Program We successfully delivered the 2011–12 migration program within two places of its planning level of
185 000. We are now halfway through the 2012–13 migration program—the largest program on record with 190 000 places, and work is already in progress for the 2013–14 program.
When planning for the program, we conduct extensive consultations with stakeholders in all capital cities and some regional centres. These consultations provide valuable feedback and public opinion on the size and composition of the program.
Skilled migration The biggest reform to the skilled migration program was the introduction of SkillSelect on July 1 last year. SkillSelect represents a fundamental change to Australia’s skilled migration practices. It provides a one-stop shop for:
- prospective migrants to research and apply for visas
- employers and state and territory governments to connect with candidates for sponsorship
- government to manage the migration program in response to Australia’s economic needs.
Parallel to this are the reforms to the permanent employer sponsored program occurred simultaneously with the introduction of SkillSelect and allowed us to maximise the benefit of temporary skilled migrants transitioning to permanent residence. The reforms have also taken the important step of bringing about the Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List which aligns the Subclass 457 visa with its permanent counterparts.
A revised business skills program was also launched on July 1 to enable Australia to attract people with demonstrated business acumen and a willingness to innovate. A key component of these reforms is the significant investor visa, which was introduced on November 24.
Over this past year we also hosted one of our most successful Skills Australia Needs events in London during four days in February. The event attracted 45 exhibitors and more than 1300 pre-screened skilled workers. Following this success, the department staged a Skills Australia Needs event in Houston, Texas—targeting skilled workers in the oil, gas, mining and construction industries.
Finally in terms of skilled migration, 2012 also saw the establishment of the Ministerial Advisory Council on Skilled Migration (MACSM), which provides the government with independent advice on skilled migration to create stronger skilled migration policies and programs. The Council is chaired by Michael Easson AM, Executive Chair of EG Property Group, a fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, and a serving member on the boards of ACTEW Corporation and Telstra Stadium.
Family migration To improve the assessment of family violence and lessen the burden for victims, the family violence provisions were amended on November 24 last year. Changes were made to streamline the evidence that applicants need to provide when making a non-judicial claim for family violence.
The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Reference Committee held an enquiry into the Prospective Marriage (subclass 300) visa. The committee’s report made seven recommendations, but found ‘there is a high level of integrity within the prospective marriage visa program’.
Working holiday program Highlights in the working holiday program during 2012 included the government agreement and announcement of the commencement of working holiday negotiations with the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Latvia, Slovak Republic, Israel and Greece. Implementation of new arrangements with Argentina occurred in February, expansion of the arrangements with Indonesia were announced in July and an agreement was signed with Uruguay in late November.
Visitor visas Access to the electronic Tourist (e676) visa was expanded to Chile, Croatia, Maldives, Turkey (officials), Argentina and Brazil. A streamlined trial was also introduced for Chinese independent tourists.
Student visas We continued to implement the recommendations of the Hon Michael Knight AO following his review of the student visa programs. The changes are aimed at improving quality, integrity and competitiveness.
We have also been actively conducting a review of the Assessment Level Framework in consultation with key stakeholders and introduced the Migration Legislation Amendment (Student Visas) Bill 2012, which will cease the automatic cancellation of student visas.
Visa deregulation In November, the simplified temporary work visa framework was delivered. This is a big step toward the government’s commitment, under the Better Regulation Agenda, to reduce the number of visas by 50 per cent.
Inquiry into the Migration Treatment of Disability We helped the Government finalise and table its response to the Joint Standing Committee on Migration’s report on the Inquiry into the Migration Treatment of Disability. The Government’s response introduces the idea of a new and innovative net benefit model for assessing the health impacts of prospective migrants, against their benefit to Australia.
I thank you all for your continued engagement with our Migration Blog and hope that it continues to serve as a reliable and up-to-date source of information and discussion into the future.
We started reducing the reliance on visa labels over 15 years ago, when we introduced the ‘label-free’ Electronic Travel Authority system for visitors. Now, millions of people every year travel to Australia without a visa label.
We continue to lead the move towards online services. For a long time now we have issued electronic visas linked to passports, making travel to Australia hassle-free. International commercial airlines and cruise ships verify that passengers have a valid visa before they travel to Australia, generally at the time of issuing a boarding pass.
Visa holders are still given the option of requesting a visa label if other countries require it for transit or exit purposes. From 24 November 2012, a charge for a visa label of $70 AUD was introduced for this non-compulsory service. A visa applicant will only be able to request and pay for a visa label after their visa is granted. Certain exemptions will apply.
Once granted a visa, clients can check their visa details and entitlements online, anytime, anywhere, using the Visa Entitlement Verification Online service, also known as VEVO. VEVO is a free service that lets visa holders and organisations (with the visa holder’s permission) see details of current visas.
No matter what visa you have, if your employer or education provider wants to see proof that you are eligible to work and study in Australia, you can encourage them to register for access to VEVO to see your current visa details and work or study entitlements.
The 457 program has a minimum salary threshold to ensure that visa holders have sufficient money to support themselves inAustralia. This salary threshold is called the ‘Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold’, or the TSMIT for short.
The TSMIT is important as 457 visa holders are generally not eligible for government benefits and support.
The other key purpose of the TSMIT is to ensure the 457 program is only used for positions which require skilled and experienced workers, rather than entry-level positions.
To ensure that this threshold keeps pace with increases in Australian salaries, the TSMIT is indexed annually in accordance with Average Weekly Earnings. For the period February 2011 to February 2012, the latest available AWE increased by 4.2 per cent. For the previous financial year, the TSMIT was set at $49 330. Therefore on 1 July 2012 indexation will result in a TSMIT of $51 400.
The new TSMIT takes effect from July 1, and it is assessed at the time nomination applications are decided. So any nomination applications, regardless of when they were lodged, if assessed after July 1 2012, must be paid a salary that is greater than $51 400.
The 457 program recognises that higher salaries reduce the risks that low levels of English proficiency pose for overseas workers. Therefore higher paid visa applicants are not required to meet the English language requirement. The salary level for this exemption is currently set at $88 410.
Applying the same increase of 4.2 per cent results in the English language exemption increasing to $92 000.
The new exemption level will take effect at the same time as the TSMIT increase on1 July 2012.
Note: Please ensure all comments are related either to the TSMIT or English language exemption.
We’d like to commemorate the first anniversary of the Migration Blog (previously known as the Skilled Migration Blog). A big thank you to all our readers who continue to engage with us.
Since June last year, the blog has posted 74 articles with a variety of content, including skilled migration, family and student visas.
The most successful part of this journey was introducing comments that allowed you to engage and ask questions. We’ve had over 1000 comments since February 2012.
Our audience is diverse and large. We’ve had approximately 188 000 visits and more than 300 000 page views. Visitors have come from around 180 countries. About 50 per cent are referred from other websites, and in the past three months, we have seen more than 60 per cent arrive through search engines. This is positive as it shows the blog is becoming a place where information and engagement is commonplace, easy to navigate and most importantly, easy to find.
Thank you again for being involved over the past year and hopefully we will continue to hear from you.
As always, we encourage you to ask questions about our policy and programs as well as share the blog with your friends and colleagues.
If you want to find out about SkillSelect and the upcoming changes to our skilled migration program, join us on Thursday 31 May between 4.00 – 5.00pm AEST to chat with the Assistant Secretary Labour Market Branch Peter Speldewinde.
While Peter can’t respond to questions unrelated to the live chat, including individual case inquiries, he will be able to answer general questions about how SkillSelect will work and how changes to the skilled migration program will affect you.
To join in, you need to ‘like’ the department’s Facebook page.
Twitter users can also join our live chat by tweeting @SandihLogan.
We have been providing regular posts about the employer-sponsored program reforms that will be introduced on 1 July. A key element of these reforms is that Skill Level 4 occupations or ‘semi-skilled’ occupations will no longer be eligible for the regional sponsored migration scheme under ‘exceptional circumstances’.
Employers who need specialised semi-skilled workers from overseas will instead need to negotiate a labour agreement.
Labour agreements provide a robust integrity framework for the entry of semi-skilled workers who are likely to be more vulnerable than highly-educated, highly-paid and highly-skilled workers.
Where this change affects a number of employers in the same industry with similar specialised semi-skilled needs, the department can look at developing template agreements for all businesses in that industry or sector; for example, specialised animal attendants or machinery operators in the agricultural sector.
More information about labour agreements is available on the department’s website.