Australian visas to cost more from 1 July 2018
By Shamsher Kainth | 25 Jun, 2018

The visa application charges for some Australian visas are going up on 1 July 2018.


It was in the May 2017 budget that Treasurer Scott Morrison made the announcement of annual indexation of visa fees in line with the forecast consumer price index.


The Government is hoping to generate $410 million dollars over a four-year period from 2017 to 2021.


Visa fees are indexed and rounded off to the nearest $5. This round of indexation increases the fee for a majority of visas by the 2018‐19 forecast consumer price index.


The visa fee hike only applies to the 1st installment of the visa application fee for both primary and secondary applicants. It does not apply to the second installment of the visa fee.


The student visa fee for the primary applicant will rise by $15 to $575 from $560. An adult dependent applicant will now have to fork out $430 instead of $420 from 1 July this year.


The application fee for independent skilled visas, regional sponsored and employer nominated visas is also rising.


A primary applicant for independent skilled visa subclass 189  will now have to pay $3,755, $85 more than the current $3,670. The visa fee for an additional adult applicant will now be 1,875 instead of 1,835 and a $940 instead of $920 for an additional child applicant.


The same visa fee hike also applies to visa subclass 190 (state nominated), Employer nominated(Subclass 186), Regional Employer Nomination (Subclass 187) and Skilled provisional Temporary Graduate (Subclass 485) visa.


Partner visa application fee which is among those recording the highest hike is going to set back overseas brides and grooms looking to be with their partners in Australia by $7,160 instead of $7,000. Since July last year, the fee for this visa will rise by $235.


The fee for Business Innovation and Investment (Subclass 188 Provisional) visa in the Premium Investor stream will record the highest hike of $190. Applicants will now have to pay $8,770 instead of $8,580.



Australian visas: What’s changing from July 1

By Preetinder Grewal, Shamsher Kainth | 13 Jul, 2018 

From 1 July 2018, many governmental initiatives will be implemented which will deeply impact Australia’s migrant community. This includes a series of reforms on various skilled visa categories in Australia’s migration program.


The Government is changing the eligibility requirements for some permanent skilled visas “to better align the permanent and temporary programs”.


The department claims that these measures are intended to sharpen the focus of Australia’s skilled migration programs, to ensure they better meet Australia’s skills needs.


Ranbir Singh and Rohit Mohan of Lakshya Migration told SBS Punjabi that prospective visa applicants will face “new hurdles” to meet the recently toughened requirements.


Listed below are some changes recently announced by the Federal Government and the new arrangements for the skilled migration visa applications.


Changes to point-based skilled migration

Australia’s skilled migration program is a points-based system designed to attract highly qualified and experienced professionals to best meet Australia’s skills needs.


There are a number of skilled migration visas that require applicants to score a minimum number of points to qualify for permanent skilled migration.


The government announced that from 1 July 2018 the points threshold will now be increased from 60 to 65 for skilled – independent, nominated and regional sponsored visa categories.


Global Talent Visa scheme

The Global Talent Scheme will commence in July 2018 on a trial basis for 12 months.


The visa scheme aims to attract highly skilled workers to deliver innovation to Australia’s tech industry. It consists of two streams – the start-up stream and established the business stream.


In order to sponsor the foreign workers, the employers will first need to prove their track record of hiring and training Australian workers.


According to migration agent Ranbir Singh, the scheme is similar to existing entrepreneur visa and it may have been introduced to complement the skill shortage generated after the closure of the controversial 457 visa scheme.


Increase in visa fees

Application charges for some Australian visas are going up on 1 July 2018.


The government is hoping to generate $410 million dollars over a four-year period from 2017 to 2021.


In partner visa applications, the prospective applicant will now need to pay $7,160 instead of $7,000.


The fee for Business Innovation and Investment (Subclass 188 Provisional) visa in the Premium Investor stream will record the highest hike of $190. Applicants will now have to pay $8,770 instead of $8,580.


Skilled partner age limit lowered for Australian permanent visas

The latest set of changes introduced to skilled permanent visas has lowered the maximum age of a skilled partner to 45 for which an applicant can claim additional points in the general points test.


Earlier, applicants for general skilled visas whose spouses and de facto partners were under 50 years of age, were able to claim additional five points.


The changes introduced will apply to Skilled Independent visas Subclass 189 and Subclass 190 and Skilled Regional Subclass 489 with effect from 1 July 2018.


Changes to employer-sponsored visas

Government plans to implement the Skilled Australians Fund for employer-sponsored visa categories. This will be followed by the introduction of a training levy also known as Nomination Training Contribution Charge (NTCC) for the respective sponsors.


Employers and businesses seeking to nominate a worker will need to pay NTCC for the following visas: Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) (Subclass 482) visa, which is replacing visa subclass 457; Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) (Subclass 186) visa; and Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) (Subclass 187) visa.


For 482 visa, an annual fee of $1200 would be implemented for each nomination for a business that has a turnover of lesser than 10 million dollars.


A fee of $3,000 is set for an employee on a permanent skilled visa (186 and 187 visas).


Migration experts claim that in the next few months, regional industry body groups may exert pressure on the government for easing out conditions for visa related to Employer Nominated (EN) and Regional State Migration Scheme (RSMS).


Spike expected in General Skilled Migration (GSM) visas

General Skilled Migration Visa is designed for skilled workers who are willing to live and work in Australia on a permanent basis. This visa is also applicable to those individuals who can get sponsorship of an Australian employer.


Ranbir Singh told SBS Punjabi there are very few options available for international students under the Employer Nominated Scheme (TSS, ENS, RSMS) and it’ll lead to a spike in the lodgement of General Skilled Migration or GSM visas (489, 189, 190 and 887).


Qualification points to secure an Expression of Interest (EOI) are also expected to go up due to an increased demand, he said.


Partner visas

This will be a two-stage process where the sponsorship application will need to be approved before the visa applicant can apply for a visa.


Migration expert Rohit Mohan said that although it’s a good move to save the prospective applicants from domestic violence, it’ll lead to further delays in visa approvals.


Skilled Occupation Lists (SOL) changes

Australia’s skilled occupation lists are currently under review and the changes are likely to be implemented in July.


A number of occupations were flagged for removal from the lists and some were put up for moving between different lists.


The last changes in Australia’s skilled occupation lists were made in March this year at the time of making the new Temporary Skill Shortage visa available when the new Regional Occupation List (ROL) was introduced.


Though at that time, the Department had said that no further changes in the lists will be made in July, but as many as 17 occupations have been flagged for removal from the list and six occupations (including Dentist and Management Accountant) for moving between different lists.


Citizenship changes

It is speculated that getting Australian citizenship will be much tougher if the government succeeds in passing the citizenship bill this year by introducing increased residence requirement up to four years and a mandatory English test.


In an exclusive interview with SBS Punjabi, the Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, Alan Tudge said the government may bring in a conversational, primary school level test instead of IELTS.


Earlier this year, Mr Tudge told SBS News that the government was committed to implementing the citizenship reforms from July 1.


While the Minister said he would still want this to happen within this year, the government is currently working on the details of the revised legislation, including the general residence period.


International student loses visa due to agent’s mistake.

By Shamsher Kainth | 28 Aug, 2018

A court has upheld the decision of the Immigration Department to refuse a student visa to an international student on the grounds that his agent had provided false information in his previous visa application.


Adnan Ashiq, a Pakistani national, originally applied for an Australian student visa in February 2012.


To a question whether he had ever served in the military or undergone military or weapons training- the ‘no’ box was ticked in response.


Mr Ashiq applied for another student visa in March 2015 and answered the same question with a yes and said that he had undergone military service or training in Pakistan as an aviation cadet at the Pakistan Air Force Academy between 2008 and 2010.


He told the Department that he was terminated from the Air Force Academy on disciplinary grounds.


In July 2015, the Immigration Department sought more information about the circumstances of Mr Ashiq’s dismissal but received no response, and his visa application was refused in March 2016 on that basis that he did not satisfy the Public Interest Criterion 4020.


Mr Ashiq unsuccessfully appealed the decision in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and said his visa form was filled by an education agent in Pakistan and he had merely signed the document.


The AAT heard that Mr Ashiq had been terminated as a result of a series of minor infractions of discipline, such as being late or non-attendance at classes, and that there was no suggestion of any charges against him or that he had been found guilty of any offence.


In turning down his appeal, the AAT said it was not satisfied that the inclusion of untrue information was a result of “inadvertence, negligence or simple accident”, but was because of the consultant in Pakistan.


Mr Ashiq’s subsequent appeal against the decision was dismissed by the Federal Circuit Court in March this year.


During the hearing in April last year, the court heard that Mr Ashiq, upon learning his visa had been refused, contacted his agent in Pakistan who maintained that his application was correct because he had not had any military career.


“It suggests that the consultant was aware of the military service of the applicant but chose to interpret the question incorrectly and, in my opinion, unreasonably in a way that meant disclosure of the service would not occur,” said Judge Young in the reasons for judgement updated on July 31st.


“If so, this was not inadvertent or accidental but purposeful non-disclosure when disclosure was required, that is, purposefully untrue.”


The court dismissed Mr Ashiq’s appeal and ordered him to pay $7206 in the respondent’s cost.


Public Interest Criteria 4020

Under Public Interest Criteria 4020, a visa application can be reused in case of provision of bogus documents or false or misleading information in relation to a current application or a visa held during the last 12 months.


According to the Department of Home Affairs, if a visa application is refused due to false or misleading information or document, the applicant may face a ban of 3 years. In case of identity fraud, this ban may extend to ten years.


Migration agent Ranbir Singh says Mr Ashiq’s case is one of many such cases that underscore the importance of reviewing the documents and information prepared by agents before submitting to the Department.


“It’s a well-established legal precedent that whether or not the applicant is aware of the false information or fraud in the application, the axe has to fall on them. So, the need of reviewing every document, every piece of information can’t be overstated,” Mr Singh says.


Last year, the Government brought in stricter legislative measures that could impose a ban of 10 years on those providing false or misleading information in their visa applications, even unwittingly. However, the changes were disallowed after the successfully brought a disallowance motion in the Senate against the regulations.

New visa could keep migrants in regional Australia

By James Elton-Pym | 29 Aug, 2018 


The Morrison government is expected to forge ahead with new skilled and family visas that force migrants to spend years in regional areas before they can move to a city like Sydney or Melbourne.


The previous Turnbull government had long flagged new visas to “bind” migrants to the regions, with data from the Home Affairs department suggesting one in 10 who come under existing rural visas then move to a city within 18 months.


New prime minister Scott Morrison is yet to comment on the visas, but his recent cabinet reshuffle suggests the policy could be tweaked or integrated in a broader population policy.


The minister working on the visas was then-multiculturalism minister Alan Tudge, who has now been appointed to the new position of minister for cities and population in the reshaped Morrison cabinet.


The Australian reported a proposal for visas that locked migrants into the regions for five years was due to go to cabinet before the Liberal leadership spill, but is yet to be considered by the new team.Mr Tudge’s office would not comment on the matter.


David Coleman has been appointed the new minister for immigration. His office told SBS News he was not yet in a position to comment on the policy either, having only just been sworn in.


The move takes immigration policy out of the responsibilities of Home Affairs minister Peter Dutton, with the exception of the Border Force, and could see a shift in emphasis.


Business lobby Ai Group said it hoped immigration would again be seen as an “economic portfolio”.


The business community reacted with anger when the Turnbull government revealed permanent migration – made up of skilled and family visas – had fallen to its lowest rate in 10 years.


James Pearson, head of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the regions were “paying the price” for a failure of infrastructure planning in the capital cities.


Australia already has a number of visa programs designed to bring migrants to the bush, including the Skilled Regional (887) and the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (187).


But the schemes bring in relatively few migrants, despite the acute population decline and skills shortages in some regional areas.


More than 90 per cent of permanent arrivals choose to settle in the big cities on Australia’s east coast.Moreover, there is little employers can do to stop migrants leaving for a city once their permanent residency has been granted.


In the visa world, the “regions” normally include smaller cities like Adelaide, Darwin, Canberra and Hobart. The government reclassified Perth as a metropolis in November last year.


Questions remain over how the government can force migrants to stay in the regions without running into legal disputes by restricting freedom of movement.


Labor frontbencher Richard Marles questioned how the visas would function in practice. “I’m not sure that mandating new immigrants living in regional Australia is going to work,” Mr Marles told Sky News.


“I’m not actually sure there is the power to put that in place, to actually mandate that they do live there,” he said. “So I am a little worried about the particular prescription they are putting in place to bring this about.”

South Australia introduces a new visa


By Shamsher Kainth | 12 Sep, 2018


Unlike the current Entrepreneur visa, the new visa does not require $200,000 funding arrangements and the English language requirement is 5 Band score on IELTS.


South Australia has allocated $400,000 to implement a pilot program for a new visa for startup entrepreneurs seeking to establish a business in the state.


The visa was first announced in March this year, before the SA state election.


Giving an undertaking to the South Australian Liberals to pilot the visa from SA before its national rollout in 2019, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said it would foster business growth and investment in Australia.


The Government said it would increase job opportunities and boost the economy by attracting startups to establish operations in Australia.


This visa will be different from the existing entrepreneurial and Business & Innovation visas as it will not require any mandatory funding outlay and an applicant only needs to demonstrate vocational English language proficiency.


With the new visa, foreign entrepreneurs and investors with an innovative idea and a supporting business plan will be able to apply for a temporary visa to establish their venture in Australia.


The applicants’ business proposals will be examined by the State or Federal Government and those successfully establishing their business venture in Australia will become eligible to apply for permanent residence.


The South Australia pilot will run over four years and 30 places allocated in the first year with the number of visas increasing every year, StartupSmart reports.


The South Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, David Ridgway said the new visa encourages growth in the local entrepreneurial culture.


“The new visa will drive entrepreneurialism and innovation in our state, with the future potential to employ South Australians,” Mr Ridgway said.


While it’s not yet clear whether any financial requirements apply to the applicants, they must be under the age of 45 and have vocational level English which is band 5 in each of the four components of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). They are also required to meet the health, character and financial requirements set by the Federal Government.


“We are confident that this arrangement can lead to participants applying for permanent residence in South Australia as they develop their business plans into successful enterprises creating new companies and jobs in our state,” said Mr Marshall said after the Federal Government’s announcement.


“These arrangements will also encourage more investment in those sectors of our economy with the greatest capacity to grow, including advanced manufacturing and defence technology following the Federal Government’s decision to centre the naval shipbuilding program in South Australia.”



To deal with labour shortage, Australia may soon start a new visa

By Shamsher Kainth | 14 Sep, 2018


Jaswinder Singh Mavi and his family own 300 acres of orange farm land on the outskirts of Griffith in New South Wales’ Riverina region.


The Mavis are just out of what they call a very stressful and busy picking period that lasts from May to August.


“One of the biggest issues for us is sourcing workers during this extremely busy season,” says Mr Mavi who is a prominent figure in Griffith’s Sikh community.


He says the family often has to rely on labour sharing contracts with friends and relatives to see them through the season.


“Our family owns six farms and we share the labour amongst ourselves and we seek help from our relatives in Melbourne and ask them if they know anyone who needs work. But it’s difficult to work that way.


“But in spite of doing all this, at times we aren’t able to pick fruit in time and if the weather takes a turn for bad before picking, it just rots on plants,” Mr Mavi tells SBS Punjabi.


He isn’t the only farmer facing these issues.


Currently, the farmers are sourcing seasonal workers using a variety of visas, including season worker program and working holiday maker visa which at times lead to several complications.


Growcom, the peak representative body for the horticulture sector in Queensland, says the current visa settings aren’t right. “We have a situation whereby many overseas workers come here and work illegally,” Growcom CEO David Thompson argues in a blog for Fairfax Media.


Mr Thompson said they would love to hire Australians but the “volatile” nature of the industry made it hard to employ locals for the job.


Uneasy over the uncertainty over the availability of labour, the farming sector has been demanding a special visa for the agriculture sector, which now seems close to reality with Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud throwing his weight behind the farmers.


“Agriculture has a huge shortage of labour, particularly for picking, and an ag visa can help address that,” Mr Littleproud said.


“We need a specific farm visa so farmers and those who want to work on farms don’t have to wade through multiple different types of visas,” Mr Littleproud told SBS Punjabi.


Australian farmers are seeking a short-term multiple-entry visa without any labour market testing or requirement of sponsorship with the workers being allowed to move between employers within the agriculture sector.


Mr Littleproud recently indicated that the agriculture visa could be made available soon.


“When I became Agriculture Minister last December, I made it a key priority to deliver an agriculture visa for this picking season,” he said.


Mr Mavi says a stand-alone visa for the agriculture sector will be helpful for him to secure the right workers suited to his needs.


“Now even if we are able to source foreign workers, language is a huge barrier between the employer and the worker. If this special visa is started, we would like to have people from Punjab come here and work for us,” he says.


Farming industry bodies have demanded that there should be no requirement for labour market testing and it shouldn’t be employer-sponsored.


“We contend that only employers who demonstrate sustainable workplace practices should be able to access visa workers and one mechanism to achieve this would be through the Fair Farms certification scheme,” Mr Thompson said.


The Department of Home Affairs says the Government is committed to supporting the skills needs of regional Australia and is always looking at ways to improve the migration system.


“Australia’s immigration needs aren’t the same in all areas, and policy should take that into account,” Immigration Minister David Coleman told SBS Punjabi.


“Where the system can be improved to better match immigration patterns to needs in specific locations, we should do that. In particular, we need to look closely at ways of filling employment gaps in regional areas.” Mr Coleman told SBS Punjabi.