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This bulletin is for members only, and provides our members with month to month updates on Australian immigration policy changes and consequential opportunities. Opportunities are found via federal and state government policy shifts for the demand and supply for certain occupations.
This bulletin will keep you up to date so that you do not have to employ expensive immigration lawyers to provide you with monthly research.
April 2022 has landed, and in this month’s bulletin we discuss Australia’s migration programme from PANDEMIC TO ENDEMIC! Faced with the global pandemic, on 20 March 2020 the Australian government closed Australia’s borders to focus on public health and safeguarding the security of the nation. Since then, Australia has grappled with the greatest labour shortage since World War II. In March 2020, there were some 2.4 million temporary visa holders in Australia, in contrast to 31 October 2021 where there were 1.6 million temporary visa holders in Australia (many who are now planning to secure ongoing stay). As a consequence, opportunities are continuing to rise for skilled professionals who are seeking to migrate to Australia.
As of 1st April 2022, the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL) remains in effect. Visa applications with an occupation on the PMSOL continue to receive priority processing.
In this month’s ‘Federal News’, we highlight a key indicator of Australia’s post-COVID-19 transition, being that almost 200,000 people have arrived in Australia in December 2021, up from just over 72,000 in November 2021 and the highest number of arrivals since Australia’s COVID-19 border restrictions commenced in March 2020. As Australian immigration is now evidently on the rise, we take a deeper look at the Ministerial Direction for Priority Processing, and which visas are covered by the Ministerial Direction, and what this means for Skilled Visa Applicants. If too much information is making you perplexed, in this month’s edition we also provide a simple, summary guide (key requirements) on how you can acquire an Australia Permanent Resident (PR) Visa.
In this month’s ‘Economic News’, CEO’s at the Australian Financial Business Summit discuss Australia’s need for more people to migrate to Australia to help plug the severe labour shortage, as well as improve workplace diversity. Dynamic changes are continuing to be a constant feature of Australia’s Migration Program and policies, particularly in the context of the rapidly-changing Australian border rules. As Australia adjusts to the ‘new normal’, it is expected that there will be greater flexibility in Australia’s migration policies to enhance Australia’s competitive position overseas while meeting Australia’s trade, investment and national security priorities.
In this month’s ‘State News’, even more changes are anticipated for Australian state and territory immigration law, and in this month’s bulletin we include a summary of the upcoming changes, including the introduction of the Subclass 191 visa which is expected to commence in November 2022.
The State Skilled Migration Programs for the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), New South Wales (NSW), Tasmania and South Australia (SA) remain open to Offshore Applicants! All other state and territory programs still remain closed (to offshore applicants) due to pandemic restrictions. The Australian Government hopes the influx of new visa holders will help alleviate labour shortages around the country.
In this month’s ‘Student News’, ICEF Monitor reported that over 56,000 international students have returned to Australia as of Jan. 30, 2022, and another 50,000 more have their student visa applications filed. In a continued bid to woo international students back to the country’s shores, Australia has announced a variety of incentives and perks for students to enjoy once they touchdown, including post-study work visa extensions, work hours extensions and visa rebates, all which have proven to be beneficial to students. With a vaccination rate of more than 90 per cent – one of the highest in the world – a strong student market recovery is predicted.
All this and much more in the April issue of The Australian Immigration Bulletin! Let’s take a deeper look at what has happened so far and what is planned for the remainder of April 2022 in Australian Immigration, so that you can start planning!
As legislation and travel requirements are constantly changing, we strongly recommend obtaining advice on your individual situation from a Registered Migration Agent.
Please click here to book a consultation with one of our Registered Australian Migration Agents, located in Australia.
As we’ve entered the fourth month of the new year, join us for a look at the latest news and developments in the world of Australian Immigration!
We asked those who have established themselves with skilled jobs to share their experience and tips for a career in Australia.
We spoke with Van, a skilled migrant and civil engineer currently working for a private company in Australia.
What can a migrant do to be competitive in Australia?
There are a few things a skilled migrant can do to be competitive in Australia in general.
The most important thing is to improve English (although it might sound obvious as we live in an English speaking country). The second thing is that you have to be immersed in the Australian culture. The ways of work might be different and you have to adapt to that and learn how to work in a team.
Then you have to adapt to the work environment. Humility is the most important thing.
What could be a solution for migrants with no Australian experience?
Well many companies like to also hire people through referral programs.
Usually, the Australian companies have an internal referral program, where a new candidate is referred by an existing employee. If a migrant is finding it difficult to find work, then my advice in this situation is to try to take up some volunteering work. That way you can immerse yourself in Australian working culture and get some experience. Even if this experience is not directly relevant to your profession, you can improve some of the soft skills like communication, working in the team, case management, or project management. Those can be stepping stones on your way to getting a dream job.
Could you please talk a little bit about the recruitment process based on your experience?
My second job was with my local government department. I found this position in the graduate program section of the JumpStart website and applied for it. Usually, to apply for a job in the public sector, you need to complete the Selection Criteria. The government would assess your responses and if you satisfy all the requirements, they will invite you for the interview. During the interview, you can be asked similar questions to those in the Selection Criteria.
What challenges did you face as a migrant working in a new country? What are some of the things migrants can do to adapt to these challenges?
I hadn’t known much English before I came to Australia, that was my biggest challenge. The second one was culture. Coming from an Asian country, I had to adapt to Western culture.
The best thing to do is to create your network, be present on LinkedIn, a dimension where you actually can try to reach local communities seeking opportunities. After doing some volunteering and entry-level jobs, you will have a chance to finally get to your dream job, and prove yourself to be successful working in Australia.
How long do visa applications take?
Visa application processing times vary significantly. Updated processing times for most visa types are issued every month by the Department of Home Affairs and are indicative of the actual processing time for recently finalised applications.
Processing priorities are usually established by Ministerial Direction while processing times are impacted by application volumes and seasonal peaks, the complexity of a case, and whether or not an application is complete.
Ministerial Direction- Priority Processing
The Migration Act 1958 allows the Minister for Immigration to issue Directions to establish the priority in which visa applications should be considered by the Department of Home Affairs.
There are currently two Directions setting out the order of priority for skilled visa processing: Direction no. 92 for permanent and provisional visas and Direction no. 93. Both Directions took effect in July 2021, replacing earlier Directions issued in August 2020.
Visas covered by the Ministerial Direction
Permanent visas allow the holder to live in Australia indefinitely; provisional visas are generally issued for a period of time (e.g. 5 years) in which the visa holder/s must satisfy certain conditions (such as living and working in regional Australia or establishing a business in Australia) before they are eligible to apply for permanent residence.
The subclass 189 (Skilled – Independent Visa / Points-tested Stream) is covered by the current priority processing Directions, and similarly with the subclass 190 and subclass 491.
What this means for Businesses & Skilled Visa Applicants | Key Considerations
The date on which an application is lodged does not necessarily establish its priority. This means a Subclass 189 visa application submitted based on work in a critical sector may be processed very quickly, while the same visa for an applicant in a non-critical sector may take longer.
Throughout the Pandemic, the migration program remained open and visa applications made by individuals in Australia and overseas were accepted – many are still pending. However, because overseas applicants for provisional and temporary visas required a Travel Exemption to enter Australia we saw that overseas applicants were generally not processed unless a Travel Exemption was approved.
Since 15 December 2021, Travel Exemptions are no longer required for fully vaccinated eligible visa holders and processing of skilled visa applications is now proceeding with priority being accorded according to the Directions with some delays being reported in this transition time.
Unvaccinated visa holders must still obtain a Travel Exemption to enter Australia.
What To Expect Moving Forward | Border Re-Opening & Changed Processing Priorities
Nationally, Australia continues to progress towards re-opening fully, while each State and Territory has established different quarantine and entry requirements adding a layer of complexity for skilled visa holders and their families coming to work in Australia.
In a sign of Australia’s post-COVID-19 transition, almost 200,000 people arrived in Australia in December 2021, up from just over 72,000 in November 2021 and the highest number of arrivals since Australia’s COVID-19 border restrictions commenced in March 2020.
If your occupation is NOT listed on the processing priority list (PMSOL), we suggest you plan early and expect delays. Some visa requirements do take several months to prepare.
*The following is a summary overview only. For full details regarding the Subclass 189 (Skilled – Independent Visa) please refer to The Australian Immigration Bulletin’s ‘Step by Step’ process, as shown in the Members Area.
If too much information is making you perplexed, here’s a simple, summary guide (key requirements) on how you can acquire an Australia Permanent Resident (PR) Visa, which allows you to stay in Australia for an indefinite period. Further, a permanent resident is given privileges and rights as citizens, including access to subsidised or free health and legal services.
If you are applying for an Australian PR visa, you must keep these key requirements in mind.
It’s necessary to keep the required documents handy to avoid any hassle. Apart from educational, work and routine travel documents, you need the following two primary documents.
Skilled Occupation List
You must choose an occupation from the SOL (Skilled Occupation List).
Once you have selected your occupation from the SOL (Skilled Occupation List), you must satisfy Australia’s point-based system. For the same, you need to submit an Expression of Interest in the Australian Skill Select System online. It is an online system that stores and maintains an applicant’s profile details like name, age, gender, work experience, language ability, qualification etc.
Based on these factors, the system generates points, which should be a minimum of 65 points. Higher the points, better the chances of acquiring an invitation to apply for the PR visa.
Character and health requirements
To acquire a PR visa, an applicant’s character has to be morally good, and he or she should be mentally fit to work and live in Australia.
The Australian Government considers the IELTS score very important during immigration formalities. It can have a huge impact on your total score and thus, you need to maintain a good IELTS score. However, if you do not wish to undergo this exam, you can opt for other English language tests like TOEFL, PTE etc.
*Family and Child stream visas
The Family stream allows the permanent migration of close family members — of Australian citizens, permanent residents, and eligible New Zealand citizens. It not only provides eligibility to partners and parents but also to additional family members such as aged dependent relatives, carers, remaining relatives and orphan relatives.
Under Child stream, visas are allowed to children, of Australian citizens, permanent residents and eligible New Zealand citizens. The Child visa comprises two categories — Child and Adoption visas.
Faced with the global pandemic, on 20 March 2020 the Australian government closed Australia’s borders to focus on public health and safeguarding the security of the nation.
Since then, Australia has grappled with the greatest economic shock since World War II: a covid19-induced recession.
Australia re-opened its borders to prescribed visa holders on 15 December 2021, with a 4.5 per cent unemployment rate, critical labour force shortages and Mid-Year Economic & Fiscal Outlook, which highlighted Australia’s resilience in the face of significant economic challenges. The budget aggregates and major economic parameters forecast a government deficit for 2021–2022 of $99.2 billion, and net debt estimated at A$729 billion.
Australia’s high vaccination rates and restrictions have helped keep infection and deaths relatively low: as at mid December 2021 Australia had had a total of 238,969 covid-19 cases with 2,126 deaths, while globally there were 273,110,082 cases and over 5.35 million deaths.
The Department’s role and function as the central coordination, strategy and policy leadership agency includes managing cyber security, infrastructure resilience and security, immigration, border security and management, law enforcement and counter-terrorism, emergency management, the protection of Australia’s sovereignty, citizenship and social cohesion.
The Australian Border Force, its independent operational enforcement arm, works domestically and internationally to manage the movement of goods and people across the borders while identifying, mitigating and responding to threats before they reach Australia’s borders.
Australia’s highly codified, rule-based, complex and ever-changing immigration laws and policies reflect the government’s economic and social policies for Australia. They underpin Australia’s focus on economic prosperity and population growth while creating a secure and united Australia.
With the vaccination rate of more than 90 per cent – one of the highest in the world – and a strong economic recovery predicted, Australia is well placed to deal with the Omicron variant as we reopen our borders.
The recent changes include a phased approach to reopening the border to vaccinated travellers. As of 15 December 2021, fully vaccinated visa holders are able to travel to Australia without exemption. This includes international students, skilled migrants, refugee/humanitarian, and temporary and provisional family visa holders.
With international education previously a A$37.4 billion industry, state and territory governments are leading the return of international students to their jurisdictions within their health and quarantining capacities.
The Australian Strategy for International Education 2021–2023 summarises changes to visa settings to allow for “ongoing flexibility in Australia’s migration policies” to enhance Australia’s global competitiveness and to “support diversification and growth and align with Australia’s skills needs”.
Applications for the Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189) can only be progressed if the expression of interest lodged by the candidate results in an issue of an automated SkillSelect invitation.
The Department of Home Affairs has extensive automated processes across the visa program. SkillSelect uses a ranking system of enabling those with the highest points score, followed by the earliest “date of effect” when the person reaches the points score for a relevant visa subclass, to be eligible for an invitation to apply.
There is no right to lodge an application under SkillSelect if the Department does not issue the invitation to apply first.
The SkillSelect invitation round focuses on various occupations consistent with the Priority Skilled Migration Occupation List, which came into effect on 2 September 2020 and now includes 44 occupations in high demand, for example:
In March 2020, there were some 2.4 million temporary visa holders in Australia. As at 31 October 2021 there were 1.6 million temporary visa holders in Australia, many looking to secure ongoing stay.
Dynamic changes are a constant feature of Australia’s Migration Program and policies, particularly in the context of the rapidly-changing Australian border rules.
As Australia adjusts to the ‘new normal’, it is expected that there will be greater flexibility in Australia’s migration policies to enhance Australia’s competitive position overseas while meeting Australia’s trade, investment and national security priorities.
As a result of very high vaccination rates, Australia’s most important function now is to remind global visitors and potential visa holders what a safe place Australia is to come to, with the lowest death rates of almost any developed country peer.
While Australia has kept COVID-19 deaths at levels comparable with a bad flu season, declines in the birth rate and virus-hit migration have meant the lowest population growth in a century. That really puts the onus back on the federal government to start increasing immigration rates or perhaps the doubling to 400,000 per annum that NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet’s advice suggested last year.
There is already insatiable demand for staff in the hospitality sector, with vacancies up more than 80 per cent though 2021.
There was a net outflow of 100,000 people in the 2021 financial year. The Morrison government has allowed 200,000 existing skilled and student visa holders to return, or remain to apply for permanent residency – including hospitality workers who were barred from permanent residency.
Yet stalled population growth, as both fertility and migration decline, could leave Australia with 1.5 million fewer permanent residents/citizens than expected by the end of the decade. That by itself is a big threat to continued dynamism in the economy once the pandemic era has passed.
The crisis is not over yet for the tourism sector. There is no government plan to reopen domestic cruise operations. Australians can only join cruises overseas. And the higher travel costs after the pandemic are a prelude to a more carbon-constrained world as aircraft and ships shift to greener and costlier technology.
Yet travel is critical to the world’s well-being. Isolation has been feeding the global mood of geopolitical crisis. Australians are hardcore travellers, and won’t stay grounded for long. And nothing is going to suggest normality here at home more than foreign visitors taking selfies in front of the Sydney Opera House once again.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought all kinds of challenges since the first case of coronavirus in Australia, especially for immigration. As we continue our journey into the New Year, even more changes are anticipated for Australian state and territory immigration law and below is a summary of the upcoming changes that have been flagged. Here we cover upcoming changes to the Regional Migration Program and the latest updates to the COVID-19 travel restrictions.
1. Subclass 191 nomination due to commence in November 2022
In November 2019, the Australian Government introduced the subclass 491 Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa and the subclass 494 Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) Visa. These visa subclasses provide the State and Territory governments and employers in regional Australia a broader range of skilled occupations for nominations of temporary skilled workers. There are other criteria for this visa, such as relevant work experience, English language proficiency and age limits (unless an exemption applies).
A person who has held the subclass 491 or the subclass 494 visa for at least 3 years and meets a minimum taxable income and other criteria may be eligible for the corresponding permanent visa (the Subclass 191 visa).
It is expected that the Subclass 191 visa will commence in November 2022 as the first batch of visa holders become eligible to apply for permanent residency.
2. Visa extension for subclass 491 visa holders
On 18 January 2022, the Minister has also announced that subclass 491 and 494 visa holders impacted by COVID-19 travel restrictions will have their visas extended by 3 years. Further details of this arrangement are yet to be announced.
3. COVID-19 related travel restrictions and quarantine requirements
From 21 February 2022, Australia’s international border has reopened to all fully vaccinated visa holders. Those who are unvaccinated will need to apply for a travel exemption. The Australian Government hopes the influx of visa holders will help revive the tourism and hospitality sector and alleviate labour shortages around the country. Despite the “reopening” of the border, travellers will be asked to undergo pre-departure COVID testing, complete required paperwork such as the Australia Travel Declaration and follow applicable quarantine requirements from the relevant Australian state or territory that the traveller will enter.
In view of the global pandemic, the Australian government during 2020 and 2021 imposed some temporary travel restrictions. Now various states of Australia have started issuing invitations and nominating the candidates for skilled migration.
Australia has a point-based system for skilled migration. The Australian State and Territory government programs have two ‘point-tested categories’, being;
The ‘Skilled Nominated- Subclass 190’ is a points-tested permanent category for skilled workers who are nominated by an Australian State or Territory government. The ‘Skilled Nominated- Subclass 190’ enables skilled workers and their families to live, work and/or study in Australia indefinitely with full work rights. You would generally be expected to reside for 2 years in the State or Territory which nominated you.
The ‘Skilled Work Regional (Provisional)- Subclass 491’ is a points-tested temporary category for skilled workers who are nominated by an Australian State or Territory government. The ‘Skilled Work Regional (Provisional)- subclass 491’ enables skilled workers and their families to live, work and/or study in regional areas of Australia for up to five years. This nomination then provides pathways to permanent residency after three years. For migration purposes, most locations of Australia outside of major cities (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, etc.) are classed as regional areas.
Key requirements for an Australian State or Territory Government immigration nomination:
To apply for either of these nominations, ‘Skilled Nominated- Subclass 190’ or
‘Skilled Work Regional (Provisional)- Subclass 491’, you will still need to lodge an Expression of Interest (EOI).
When deciding whether to nominate an applicant, state or territory nominating agencies refer to their own criteria, which vary from state to state. As a starting point, all applicants must show they have an occupation on the relevant state or territory occupation list, and that they have a genuine intention to reside in that state or territory.
State and territory agencies offer a number of different ‘streams’ and generally cater to offshore skilled applicants, onshore skilled applicants, and recent tertiary graduates. Some states also provide options for small business owners, or applicants with family living in the state or territory.
Please note, the below is information on general requirements and does not take into account any of your personal circumstances. You must check the State/Territory information carefully to ensure you can meet all the requirements for nomination.
The ACT Critical Skills List identifies the occupations in current demand in the ACT. This List is important if you want to apply for ACT nomination for either a:
The ACT Government will update this list every four months to make sure that the ACT Skilled Migration Program adapts and responds to the evolving critical skills needs of the ACT economy.
The Canberra Matrix is weighted to ensure that applicants who will make a positive economic contribution to the Territory and/or have demonstrated a genuine commitment to the ACT are more likely to be ranked and invited to apply for ACT nomination.
*ACT nomination does not guarantee a migration outcome. You must still meet the Department of Home Affairs criteria.
To manage South Australia’s COVID recovery response, applicants currently residing offshore are still able to apply.
Depending on your occupation and situation, there are two state nomination options available for skilled migrants through South Australia.
For South Australian state nomination, prospective applicants must meet the Department of Home Affairs requirements, state-specific occupation requirements and have skills in an occupation that is available on the South Australian Skilled Occupation List. Offshore applicants meeting the minimum published requirements can now lodge a Registration of Interest (ROI).
Changes to nomination requirements:
Only minimal changes have been made to nomination requirements for the Tasmanian 2021-22 program year. A summary of this information is below:
The two state nomination options available for skilled migrants through Tasmania are:
The Tasmanian State Nomination Skilled Migration Program supports Tasmanian businesses and increases the state’s working age population. It does this by attracting and retaining migrants with skills genuinely in need by employers, or with the capacity to settle in Tasmania through skilled employment in the long-term, and business activities that will increase employment opportunities.
Due to the effects of Covid-19, Migration Tasmania’s current nomination priorities continue to be:
Tasmania’s skilled migration program is for people wanting to move to the state who have skills that Tasmania need. Skilled migrants are attracted to Tasmania because of the state’s enviable lifestyle, career opportunities, affordable housing, reputable schools and a globally recognised university.
The New South Wales government has invited applications from offshore migrants under the following nomination streams:
The NSW State Government announced that offshore applicants skilled in certain ANZSCO unit groups are still eligible for NSW nomination.
Offshore candidates criteria:
If you are residing offshore, you must:
*Please note: Invitation rounds occur throughout the financial year.
Some of these identified ANZSCO unit groups include: engineering managers, health and welfare service managers, production managers, primary and secondary school teachers, pharmacists, dental practitioners, midwives, registered nurses, social workers, chefs, cooks, and other professions on the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL).
Program Status Update
The Queensland Skilled Migration Program is currently open but due to current Covid-19 restrictions this is still currently available to onshore applicants only. A review will be made at a later date to open the program for skilled workers living offshore.
For the Skilled Migration Program, Migration Queensland will currently only accept “decision-ready” applications (onshore applicants only).
The Australian Migration Bulletin will continue to update you regarding the Queensland State nomination migration program for offshore applications over the next monthly bulletins.
Program Status Update
The 2021-22 migration program is well underway and the Northern Territory remains open for new onshore nomination applications. Offshore applications remain currently closed due to Covid-19 restrictions.
The Australian Migration Bulletin will continue to update you regarding the Northern Territory nomination migration program for offshore applications over the next monthly bulletins.
Program Status Update
The 2021-22 Western Australia migration program remains open for new onshore nomination applications. Offshore applications remain currently closed due to Covid-19 restrictions.
The Australian Migration Bulletin will continue to update you regarding the Western Australia nomination migration program for offshore applications over the next monthly bulletins.
Program Status Update
The 2021-22 Victoria migration program remains open for onshore nomination applications. Offshore applications remain currently closed due to Covid-19 restrictions.
The Australian Migration Bulletin will continue to update you regarding the Victoria nomination migration program for offshore applications over the next monthly bulletins.
The Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL) identifies 44 occupations which fill critical skills needs to support Australia’s economic recovery from COVID-19. The list is based on expert advice from the National Skills Commission and consultation with Commonwealth departments.
Visa applications with an occupation on the PMSOL will be given priority processing. All other skilled occupation lists will remain active, but the PMSOL occupations will take priority.
The list is temporary and priority occupations may change as Australia recovers from the pandemic. The Government and the National Skills Commission will continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on the Australian labour market and assess Australia’s skills needs as they evolve and new sources of data emerge.
There has been no additional changes during the month of March 2022 to the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL). Strengthened labour market testing will continue to allow numbers of sponsored skilled workers to migrate to Australia to fill urgent skills needs in critical sectors, helping to create Australian jobs and rebuild Australia’s economy.
This bulletin segment will be updated with the most up-to-date list when priority occupations change.
As of 1st April 2022 , 44 occupations remain on the PMSOL including (ANZSCO codes):
Those who are not fully vaccinated are still required to obtain a travel exemption and will be subject to the relevant state and territory quarantine requirements. Unvaccinated travellers must enter hotel quarantine for 7 to 14 days, depending on their state of arrival.
Please see the list of vaccines that are recognised by the Australian government for travel purposes here. Fully vaccinated visa holders should also check Australia’s travel requirements prior to departure.
Australia needs more people to move to the country and help plug a severe labour shortage, as well as improve workplace diversity, top executives told a business forum.
“A big role for migration is in helping to find people with experience we haven’t had time to acquire. I think that’s critical,” said Kate Pounder, chief executive officer of the Tech Council of Australia. She was speaking at the Australian Financial Business Summit.
Pounder pointed out that half of workers who arrive via skilled migration in the tech sector are women. “But if you look at our training system, 90% of people that come directly from information and communication technology degrees are men. So migration helps improve gender balance,” she added.
Prior to the pandemic, almost 400,000 international students and 250,000 working holiday makers were employed each year in Australia, many in pubs, hotels and restaurants. That supply evaporated when the country closed its borders.
Australia finally reopened its international borders last month. But economists say it will be some time before migration returns to pre-pandemic levels, compounding a labour crunch as job vacancies soar.
Preeti Bajaj, chief executive officer of talent recruitment firm Adecco Group ANZ, said, “What I could say is speed is of the essence. It’s a simple policy setting, we know where the demographic is coming from, we have a shortage, we can be intentional about it and just speed up the visa process, and pathway to permanent residency and citizenship. If you don’t have talent and you’re not mobilizing it from the education system and also from the globe you cannot scale your company.”
Australia – which has seen one of the strictest lockdowns during the Covid-19 pandemic with the country adopting fortress-style controls – finally fully opened its doors in February this year. Tourists, families and friends started landing on its popular shores and were welcomed with a sign painted on a runway with the message, ‘Welcome Back World’. And these are not the only people they are welcoming back; skilled migrants are in demand. Sam Hopwood from Sable International said the construction industry is booming and there are plenty of opportunities for people who are handy with a hammer.
A tough two years when immigration ground to a halt
We’ve been closed for two years and, as someone who travels the world quite a bit for business and pleasure, I can tell you we are very happy to be reopened again. From an immigration point of view, having our country more or less closed off to the rest of the world for two years throughout the pandemic was difficult. We’re a country that has relied on our immigration system to assist our economy and our general populace to help grow the country over time. We’re an immigrant country; we have taken people from all over the world and to close ourselves off for two years has hurt many parts of our economy and different industries. So, it’s a welcome relief now to know the borders are open. You can come to Australia; general visitors can come; students can come. People can come to visit their family members and skilled migrants can come back to Australia as well. A lot of industries, government and businesses are happy we are where we are now and hopefully, the worst of the pandemic is behind us. As an immigration professional in the business for 20 years, I hope that is the worst we will ever see. It got pretty bad there for a while but we have some positivity in the industry now. I speak with a lot of my corporate clients here in Australia who are eager to welcome new, skilled migrants to Australia.
General skills visa available again
General skilled migration is the traditional route of entry into Australia for many visa applicants. We use the terminology of subclasses of visas and 189, 190, these are all the general skilled migration visas, which have more or less been put on hold for a long period because of the pandemic. The government stopped inviting people to apply for these visas because they did not want to process visas for people stuck offshore. Now that our borders are open again, we are going to see general skilled migration take off. It will perhaps be more selective than it was in the past. People who work in particular occupations will be targeted by the government; those occupations will be determined based on our labour market needs. Ie. those occupations on the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL).
There is a shortage of skills in construction
I can tell you, government spending in areas of infrastructure is huge at the moment. We are building more roads, rails, ports and airports than we ever in the history of our nation and there is an absolute shortage of construction skills: civil engineers, site engineers, surveyors, etc. If you have experience in tunnelling, building, general construction, building houses … we are building a whole lot of houses. We don’t have enough bricklayers, plumbers or electricians. These are common skill shortages in Australia. In my opinion, we will see our state and federal governments turn back towards the General Skilled Migration programme and there will be opportunities for [foreigners] looking to come to Australia who have these particular skills.
Get ready for new Aussie visa quotas in July
I probably wouldn’t wait for the government. Make your move now in terms of getting prepared. Our financial year starts on 1 July each year. At that time, the federal government announces quotas for visas for the forthcoming financial year. They have stated in their forward estimates in the budget that they will increase certain visa quotas. So, you have three to four months to get ready. There are certain things you need to do as a visa applicant. It doesn’t matter if you’re a student, a sponsored employee or just setting down this path, you need to get your documents in order. Some of these things can take three to four months. Have you got your unabridged birth certificate? Marriage certificate? Apply for a police check. You are going to need a skills assessment. Go and do an English language test, etc. I talked earlier about some of these applicants who were processed in as little as four to eight weeks. Many of these applicants spent a few months getting ready to submit their visa applications. All this stuff in the background takes time … if you start getting prepared now rather than in July when other opportunities become available, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running, so to speak.
Now, what about all those super poisonous creepy crawlies?
People do say to me: I would love to come to Australia but you’ve got all those spiders and snakes, or I’m worried a shark will eat me, or the crocodiles will get me, or something to that effect. The reality is that 80% of the population lives in the major cities up and down the eastern seaboard. We are so far away from anything that will cause us any harm. You have more chance of being struck by a tram or car when crossing the road than you have of being injured by any insect, snake or anything else. Yes, they are out there. If you do get into the bush, you do need to be careful, but it’s not the threat the international world thinks it is. We quite like the fact that we’ve got a lot of poisonous stuff and we do ride on those coattails a little too often, but it is certainly not that bad.
New data shows city-dwellers are continuing to move to the regions at a higher rate than before the pandemic, and those already living there say now is the time to put measures in place to help make it a sustainable trend.
The quarterly flow of people from capital cities to regional areas during 2020 and 2021 was 15 per cent higher, on average than the previous two years, according to the latest data from the Regional Australia Institute (RAI).
The Regional Movers Index uses relocation data from the Commonwealth Bank (CBA) to track movement between capital cities and regional areas and shows, in terms of net migration, the shift to regional Australia during the pandemic has been more than double the pre-pandemic levels
The shift was highest in the states hardest hit by pandemic restrictions, with people leaving Sydney and Melbourne at a much higher rate than other metro areas.
Melbourne held the top spot over Sydney in 2020, it was the other way around in 2021.
But it wasn’t necessarily regional areas in those states getting all the migration benefits.
In terms of numbers, the Gold Coast continues to be the most popular destination, accounting for 11 per cent of all capital city dwellers who moved to regional areas during 2021.
The next most popular destinations were the local government areas of the Sunshine Coast, Greater Geelong, Wollongong and Lake Macquarie.
The towns that had the strongest annual percentage growth in migration from capital cities in the full 2021 calendar year were all in Queensland and South Australia.
Port Augusta in SA topped the list, closely followed by Douglas and Western Downs in Queensland, Mount Gambier in SA and Banana in Queensland.
CBA executive general manager for regional and agribusiness banking Paul Fowler said the trends were underpinned by unemployment rates, tourism and agriculture.
“We see unemployment rates in regional Australia are 3.8 per cent compared to metropolitan centres at 4.1,” Mr Fowler said.
“Tourism into regional Australia remains very strong and, actually, relatively comparable to pre-pandemic levels.”
Mr Fowler said record commodity prices and “excellent outcomes from the harvest late last year” provided an opportunity for farmers to reinvest in their own business as well as their communities.
Business Port Augusta spokesperson and Ray White Port Augusta principal Darren Sherriff thought the stress of COVID-19 had pushed some people to make the move.
“Since COVID hit we’ve noticed a big spike in enquiry and we’ve seen an influx of people purchasing,” he said.
“Our volumes [of house sales] from pre-COVID have probably tripled and a lot of that is people realising they don’t have to work in the office.”
Mr Sherriff said the rental market was also becoming very competitive in Port Augusta.
“Pre-COVID we were sitting around six per cent vacancy rate, now we’re down well and truly in the threes and sometimes there isn’t anything available with our office,” he said.
“I’ve been in Port Augusta for 16 years and I haven’t seen it like this before.”
Gold Coast was the most popular local government area for metro-movers during 2021, with an 11 per cent share of regional migration.
Mayor Tom Tate said he wanted to recent spike in migration to be “sustainable long term love”.
“I welcome that we’re being loved because with that comes money and with that comes jobs,” he said.
“Don’t just love us and leave us and then it’s a boom and bust scenario.”
The Gold Coast had already been experiencing significant population growth prior to the pandemic but estimates that the city’s population would reach 1 million by 2041 may now be conservative, with indications that level could be hit five years earlier.
Australia’s international borders reopened to international students last December after nearly two years of being closed to the world. More recently, the country opened up to the rest of the world on Feb. 21, 2022, paving the way for the return of families, tourists and business travellers.
In conjunction with the reopening of Australia’s international border, international travellers at the airport were greeted with adorable koala plushies and iconic treats including Tim Tams, chocolate cookies and vegemite.
Even Federal Tourism Minister Dan Tehan was on the ground to greet the first arrivals on a Qantas flight from Los Angeles, US.
In a bid to woo international students back to the country’s shores, Australia has announced a variety of incentives and perks for students to enjoy once they touchdown. Over the past few months, Australia’s international border has given these incentives in hopes to bring back the international students they have sorely missed these past two years and the sweetened deal has proven beneficial.
ICEF Monitor reported that over 56,000 international students have returned to Australia as of Jan. 30, 2022, and another 50,000 more have their student visa applications filed.
On Nov.25, 2021, the Australian government announced changes to the Australian post-study work visa rights to give international students some flexibility upon their return.
Thanks to the changes made to the visa, international students can now remain in Australia longer to live, study or work after completing their studies.
A joint statement by Education Minister Alan Tudge and Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said changes to the new visa setting will extend efforts to protect the work visa rights of international students and extend the temporary graduate visa from two to three years for master’s by coursework graduates.
Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector graduates will also receive a two-year Temporary Graduate visa.
On Jan. 14, 2022, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison temporarily removed the 40-hour-a-fortnight limit for student visa holders, allowing them to work for an unrestricted amount of time while studying.
Morrison also announced that from Jan. 19, 2022, international students who arrive in Australia will have their visas rebated at a cost of 630 Australian dollars per student. The refund was offered until March 19, 2022; students were be able to apply for the rebate through the Department of Home Affairs. The rebate is meant to coincide with the aforementioned work hours extension.
The Australia visa application rebate was part of an initiative to encourage students to return for the start of the university year as a “thank you for choosing Australia.”
“But we also want them to come here and to be filling some of these critical workforce shortages, particularly those who are working and being trained in health care, aged care, those types of sectors, that will be incredibly helpful,” Morrison was quoted saying.
As legislation and travel requirements are constantly changing, we strongly recommend obtaining advice on your individual situation from a Registered Migration Agent. Please click here to book a consultation with one of our Registered Australian Migration Agents, located in Australia.