I'm currently got an application in for a skilled worker visa, and figured that there might be some interest in how the system is changing, particularly as migration is one of the drivers of the property market.

On 23rd September of this year, all applicants for a working visa were reclassified into seven priority groups, listed below.
  1. Employee sponsored workers.
  2. State sponsored workers whose occupation is on the Critical Skills List (CSL).
  3. Family sponsored workers whose occupation is on the CSL.
  4. Unsponsored workers whose occupation is on the CSL.
  5. State sponsored workers whose occupation is not on the CSL.
  6. Workers whose occupation is on the Migration Occupations in Demand List (MODL), or those whose occupation isn't on the CSL, but are sponsored by family.
  7. Everyone else.
DIAC decided that only migrants in groups one to four would be processed for the foreseeable future. Every other PR application is being held up until the end of 2011 (if onshore) or the end of 2012 (if offshore). So if you're on the CSL (medicine, IT, engineering, accountant and a few construction trades) then you're OK. Otherwise you're not migrating anytime soon.

There are some group five applicants being awarded visas. These tend to be people who had been assessed and accepted, but hadn't actually received the visa when the changes were implemented.

Needless to say, this has caused some anger amongst would be migrants.

This doesn't appear to be a permanent change of policy, but a review of migration has been completed and will be published shortly. The sort of recommendations that have been rumoured or discussed are:
  • Something akin to the aforementioned priority groups will remain.
  • The Critical Skills List will be replaced or possibly enhanced by a more forward looking Future Skills List. The aim is to predict skills shortages, but also boost the priority of some lower ranked occupations to aid these applicants.
  • The discussion is framed around the Knowledge Based Economy. My guess is that this will be skewed in favour of technical, research and design based professions.
  • There will be more importance paid to work experience and English language skills.
One of the comments that I saw was that it's easier for a hairdresser than a research scientist to migrate to Australia, and this was seen as showing that the system's priorities were wrong.

There's been no discussion of numbers, but my guess is that these will be tweaked for economic and political reasons. Rudd seems to be committed to the Big Australia, whereas Adams is speaking out against it.

Some of the comments that Adams made have been read as limiting immigration to replacement levels, around 35,000 per year, but the Age article suggests that's a starting point for a debate rather than a limit.

My guess is that the implications of both these changes will be:
  • The migration rate will drop sharply over the next year or so as the number of visas fall off.
  • The processing times will probably discourage applicants. I'd guess that numbers will remain lower until 2013 or so.
  • Longer term, the immigration rate will depend on political factors.
  • The focus on professionals will skew the average migrant's wealth and income upwards. So whilst there'll be fewer arriving, those that will should be richer.
Thanks for the info Graemsay.

I suspect that the problems of immigration being easier for a Hairdresser rather than a Scientist or perhaps Doctor, would be due to our policies on education requirements in specialist fields.

Just as well, as far as I am concerned.

I wonder if the processing time will slow though as I only see this as a shuffling of paperwork.

Perhaps there will be more of a push in the Employee Sponsered section once Employers realise their advertisements just aren't bringing in the workers they need.

My Rudd may make up for the migration rate with boat people after all, he is inspiring them.

Yet another asylum seeker in Indonesia says Kevin Rudd has inspired him to try his luck:

‘’We heard that Australia recognised Hazara,’’ he said. ‘’The government has changed now. It’s good for refugees there.’’

Regards JO
no point having stronger "front lines" if we're letting people in thru the back.

doing deal with immigrants is not on. there's no incentive.

we need to be taking a wider look at worldwide education standards, and provide up-to-date "bridging" training fro those qualified in other countries to meet our standards.

a doctor is an engineer is a boilermaker is a carpenter - the basics are the same.
There will be almost certainly be no drop in total immigration numbers. The limit is based on how quickly applications are processed not how many applicants there are.

As for the comments by Kevin Andrews about limiting immigration to 35,000 a year. Ignore him. He is a complete clown. Although he does have a point about the open access to Kiwi's. There's no point having a national target when you have no limit on the NZ numbers (at a stack of Kiwi's have been moving to Melb/Syd over the last 10+ years).

Big business needs skilled labour imports to keep wages down. Especially in the trades and engineering.
Josko, I believe that the processing times for applicants in the first four groups has actually speeded up. One visa tracking website suggests that Group 4 applicants (CSL without sponsorship) are currently taking around three months to be assigned a case officer. It took a lot longer at the start of the year, so it's probably a consequence of them basically ignoring the bulk of applications.

Neophyte, I'd agree that the changes won't materially affect the number of visas awarded, just delay them. But it will put off less committed individuals from applying, and anecdotally I've heard of applicants reconsidering plans in response to this.

DIAC have probably made the changes to reduce the numbers of migrants whilst the economy is soft. So I'd expect that fewer will arrive until 2013 or so.

My reading of Andrews was that he was arguing for managing migration with a stable population being the starting point, whereas Rudd is coming from having the largest population he feels can be accommodated. I also suspect that Andrews is chasing the anti-migration vote, particularly if there's likely to be an election next year.
Very interesting topic.

I guess the changes will discourage overseas students to come to Australia for study immidiately, who are the main demand in the rental market. We will see more investment properties on the market for sale next year or two.
Lets say each immigrant brings in $500k in net assets. If we assume allowed 50,000 skilled immigrants each year....we would lose about $50 billion or 4-5% of GDP.

In case you are wondering that most don't have $500k in net assets think again.

I for one think this is great for Australia.....and will continue to pay for the growing welfare bill. By the way new immigrants cannot access any sort of welfare payment for at least 2 years unless they are refugees.

Personally this is great for my property growth in both CG and rents.;)
Just bumping this again.

I received an email yesterday informing me that I've been assigned a case officer who will review my application and recommend whether or not I should get a visa. It took 78 days to be assigned one, and I'm in priority group 4, which is the lowest that DIAC are officially processing. (Though some in group 5 have been awarded visas.)

Looking at this statistics page (and the numbers are probably too small to be anything other than anecdotal), it was taking 13 to 14 months to get a CO at the start of the year, with the time falling off rapidly since then.

Either the number of migrants has fallen off, which is possible given that it's expensive to apply for a visa and the rest of the world is in a deep recession. Or DIAC are processing the same number of applicants, and those in the priority groups (like myself) are going through that much faster.

My guess is that it's probably a bit of both, but with a throttling of the numbers by DIAC.
G, any further news.

Sash, quite a few of my former clients brought in easily 5 times that amount. $500K goes too quickly when buying and setting up a house, 2 cars and putting kids into private schools and a few other luxuries.
Getting there. I need to do an IELTS test to hit the visa pass mark, get police checks done, and have a medical check up.

There were rumours of further changes in January, but I've not heard them yet. They probably won't affect me, but sometimes these things are retrospective.
I am told that NZ is the back door to Australia.

Their relatively easier immigration rules allows large numbers of people to become NZ citizens who then automatically are allowed entry into Australia as Kiwi's two years later.

All the refugees headed to Australia which are taken by NZ end up here two years later anyway.

Or so I hear.

Is this true?
I am told that NZ is the back door to Australia.

Their relatively easier immigration rules allows large numbers of people to become NZ citizens who then automatically are allowed entry into Australia as Kiwi's two years later.

All the refugees headed to Australia which are taken by NZ end up here two years later anyway.

Or so I hear.

Is this true?

Certainly true in terms of NZ migrants getting easier access to public welfare in Australia until it was recognised and tightened some years ago.
You are probably right....particularly professional or business types coming from Japan, Korea, China or India....

I knew one guy who came to Sydney.....only wanted to live in Holdsworthy...he could have lived in the North or Easy but bought a nice house for 600K in cash so he could be close his wife's family.

G, any further news.

Sash, quite a few of my former clients brought in easily 5 times that amount. $500K goes too quickly when buying and setting up a house, 2 cars and putting kids into private schools and a few other luxuries.
Another update.

There's been another round of changes to the immigration system, with more promised in the middle of the year.

The main change is that the Migration Occupations in Demand List (MODL) is being discontinued. Any occupations listed on this get an extra 15 points, and a subclass 175 visa (which allows for immediate permanent residence with no restrictions) has a passmark of 120.

It looks to me as though this is to make it harder to get a 175, and thereby push migrants towards the state sponsored visas. Particularly when there are State Migration Plans in the pipeline which will give applicants a higher priority.

It is also becoming harder for graduates to get permanent residence, and they now have an 18 month probationary period to get sponsorship from a company. This seems to be a way of stemming the flow through colleges.

The last change is that any applications made before 1st September 2007 are being rejected, with application fees refunded under the Cap and Cease powers that the Immigration Department holds. I'm guessing that this is going to become a rolling cut off date, in which case would-be migrants in the lower priority categories won't actually make it over as they're likely to be waiting for three years or more for a decision.

There's an article at the Age.

Later this year the Department of Immigration will announce changes to the points associated with different occupations.

The example cited in one of the documents on their website was that under the outgoing points system a hairdresser with training in Australia would land 135 points, whereas an environmental scientist with a PhD from Harvard would get 100. The passmark for a 175 visa is 120, making it impossible for a highly qualified scientist to be granted one, whereas the hairdresser would waltz through.

I'm sticking with my original assertions, namely:
  • There will be fewer migrants in future, but those that arrive will be more highly qualified and richer.
  • The unrestricted PR visas are on their way out. State or employer sponsorship will have a bigger role in the future.
  • Migration will be more tied into skills shortages (at a state level), rather than the more open door policy that's currently in place.
  • And it's going to become increasingly difficult...
From a property perspective, it suggests that overall demand for housing will fall, but richer migrants will mean more stimulus to the top end of the market.

On a personal level, I think that I've timed my application right. I've caught the tail-end of the MODL (changes aren't retrospective to existing applications), and the priority policy brought in on 23rd September meant that the queue suddenly shortened drastically.

And hopefully it'll be finalised in the next week or two.
Two reasons net foreign migration is being tightened.

- GDP per capita has not gone up since GFC, and net foreign debt has gone up as % of the global recovery is not strong enough to fund our intake of migrants, yet.

- Every level of Aussie govt has gone into debt since GFC. To continue the recent historical high migration rate would require tax revenue be pulled from paying down public debt, to fund the infrastructure necessary to facilitate a larger population. If new infrastructure cannot be funded from current tax revenue, the only other option is to borrow more foreign funds, thus increasing net foreign debt and the current account deficit.

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I'd actually figured that it was down to the slowing economy, and a desire not to bring in more workers whilst unemployment is high. I hadn't thought of it that way - thanks!

The other trend seems to be that the system is being changed to get immigrants to work in their nominated occupation. Apparently there have been a huge number of accountants move to Australia, yet there's still a significant shortage of them.

Also jobs like hairdresser or chef are being pushed down the priority list, along with the rules that allowed studying them to be a pathway to permanent residence.
I am told that NZ is the back door to Australia.

Their relatively easier immigration rules allows large numbers of people to become NZ citizens who then automatically are allowed entry into Australia as Kiwi's two years later.

All the refugees headed to Australia which are taken by NZ end up here two years later anyway.

Or so I hear.

Is this true?

Yes, absolutely.
I know an english couple who live near me (friends of my sister) who wanted to come to Australia to live and the only way they could get here was to emigrate to NZ, get their citizenship and then they came to Australia. They have been hear about 12 years now and doing very nicely. Not sure if it is still a way to get here though as rules have most definatley changed since.

I have mixed thoughts about tightening immigration through students studying here. On one hand, Australia is getting educated people who have paid full rates for their education but how many have done "fluffy" courses just to get a PR visa and never work in that industry that they studied?

I know this from experience from when I was at uni (finished 5 years ago), we had one fellow from China/Hong Kong who hardly turned up for tutorials/lectures and from the look of his work must have done his design and drawings the night before they were due (was an Architecture degree).

Was ********** the rest of us in the course off big time as we were slaving over designs, research and drawing of our assignments (not unusuall to do 160 odd hours for 2 weeks towards the assignment and an all nighter the night before). You'd do all this work and think I've got a pretty good design and drawing and get a credit, and this clown who I might add could hardly speak english, would hand in a drawing with no research (couldn't answer why he had done something a particular way) and I swear a 10 year old could have done better. He would get 1 mark over a pass, consistantly.

When we wernt doing uni work, most of us in our own time were reading up and studying the works of the llikes of Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright and he was out riding his skateboard. He just didn't seem interested at all. In 3rd year he still didn't know who the affore named Architects were and they are probably the most studied anywhere in the world.

He was an embarrasment to the other Asian students in the couse (I know because they told me) as they are usually extremely hard working.

I thought he was probably getting passed as the uni at the time was in big debt and needed all the forign student fees.

I didnt know about students studying here being able to get residency until recently and then it all became clear as to why he was actually bothering to do the course.

Funnily enough, he didn't go on to do the 2nd degree which is needed for registration and employment as an Architect.
so are you a registered Architect, bespoke?

i guess that dude fits that bill of "if you drink and draw, you're a bloody architect"... :p