Recent Changes in Australian Migration Regulations

-Niraj Shrestha
Australia's migration program is very complex and rules keep changing all the time. The changes will obviously have an impact on the prospective applicants but some changes or decisions also affect the applications which were already lodged. Their dream of coming to Australia either temporarily or permanently would be tarnished with such changes made by the department. A while ago,  a report was published which says the Australian citizenship will be sold to people who are willing to pay hefty amount to the Australian government  and people were speculate what would the future of migration be in Australia  but the Abbott government denied the policy of selling Australian citizenship to prospective migrants.  Migration is a vast area and the policy is always influenced by the events taking place in the world.
Recently, the government made few changes in Immigration which affected both the applications which were already lodged and the future applications as well.
1. Government agrees to settle 12,000 Syrian refugees:
Because of the on-going crisis in Syria, the Australian government is taking in 12,000 Syrian refugees on a one off basis under the humanitarian program which is the largest intake as per the decision made by the government. Australia would take women, children and families from persecuted minorities sheltering in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey as they are most vulnerable group as per the government. There would be no preferential treatment to Christians over Muslims and priority will be given to those who can't go back home according to the government.
2. Cap and cease decision to affect thousands of skilled applicants:
The government recently made a decision which affected thousands applications mostly offshore applicants who met the criteria for permanent skilled migration to Australia under three different subclasses which is no longer in existence. The applicants had applied under subclass 175, 176 and 475 and applications were prioritized as group 5 as the skills of these applicants are no longer in demand in Australia. The applicants had waited for more than 4 years to process the applications in the hope of getting permanent residency but now it has ended in disappointment.
The applicants were told that their applications have been deemed to never have been made even though they validly lodged and paid the application fees at the time of application. There were close to 18,000 applications waiting on queue to be processed but the Assistant Immigration Minister Michaelia Cash used the little known provisions in the Migration Act to “cap and cease” the 175 (Skilled independent applications), 176 (skilled sponsored) and 475 (skilled regional sponsored) visa subclasses. The Assistant Minister first fixed the number of visas to be granted in the current fiscal year and once that number has been determined for different subclasses, all other applications have been made null and void.
As per the department, 16,000 applications were ceased and most had the occupations which are not in the current skilled occupation list which means their occupations like cook, hairdresser etc are not in demand except few states and territories. The government argues that since their occupations are not in shortage, the chances of getting job in such occupations are very low and that’s why the government has to make a harsh decision in order to resolve such applications. They said the affected applicants can lodge another visas if they are eligible under the existing regulations.
3. Low number of Invitations issued to Accountants:
The number of invitations issued to accountants was low in the September round - only 20 places offered. The minimum points score to receive an invitation in the accountant occupational group was 70 in this round. The Department has not provided a reason for the low number of invitations issued. Given the low occupational ceiling for this group (Accountant was axed by 54% in the fiscal year 2015-16) and the high number of Expressions of Interest (EOIs), it is expected that the minimum score for an invitation to be 65 for the rest of the 2015-2016 immigration year.
Furthermore, there will be no invitation for Auditors, Company Secretaries and Corporate Treasures for the rest of the year as the occupation ceilings for the above occupations has already reached. Those who submitted EOI with the above occupations need to wait another year before they get invited to apply for visas under different subclasses. It will not affect the applicants who have applied in state or territories for nominations as the states or territories will continue nominate those applicants provided such occupations are on the demand list.
(Note: The writer is a registered migration agent and advises the visa applicant to consult with the professional agent before taking any further step)