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Immigration Blog

REGULAR POSTS FROM NEW ZEALAND & AUSTRALIA

Posts with tag: Australia Borders

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Enough Greek (language)!

Posted by Myer on Dec. 10, 2021, 7:27 a.m. in Australia

In the last few weeks the world learnt a new letter of the Greek alphabet, Omicron, and whilst I am in favour of classical learning I am not in favour of acquiring more knowledge about letters of the Greek alphabet when they are associated with new variants of the coronavirus. I was quite happy to stop my education in the classics at Delta. The new variant has caused quite a stir and most developed countries have (unfairly in my opinion) imposed travel bans on Southern African countries notwithstanding the fact that the variant is to be found in a vast array of countries.

Australia announced a closed border policy of restricting entry to the eight southern African countries but they have stressed that this is just a pause in the transition to opening of Australia’s borders until such time as they fully understand the virus, the transmissibility of it and the seriousness of the symptoms.

It comes at a time where Australia is suffering acute skill shortages across a number of sectors and skill shortages are felt across both skilled and unskilled workers. Articles and editorials on skill shortages tend to dominate the press in Australia and we frequently receive calls from employers inquiring as to whether we have workers in a vast array of industries.

Already we have received requests for roof plumbers and tilers, joiners, pharmacists, farmers, diesel mechanics, and electronics equipment professionals from employers who simply cannot find suitable skills in Australia. The shortages are most certainly not limited to the above occupations and anyone who works in a skilled occupation will have plenty of opportunities available to them when looking for work. In fact I don’t know if there is an industry in Australia that isn’t suffering acute skill shortages.

I read an article that the State of Victoria is suffering from a skills shortage of 4000 teachers. We had a shortage of teachers prior to Covid but it’s been exacerbated because not only have we not had the usual flow of migrants for the past two years but Australian students studying teaching haven’t been able to complete their teacher practical training because of lockdowns.

If skill shortages were not in themselves sufficient reason to encourage migrants, Australia relies upon migrants to build the economy, increase consumption, compensate for the low birthrate in Australia and provide a tax base for Australians wanting to retire.

Notwithstanding predictions regarding a baby-boom during the frequent lockdowns we endured, registered births fell by 3.7% in 2020 with the fertility rate at an all-time low of 1.58 babies per woman. It’s the first time in 14 years that registered births dropped below 300,000.

There are essentially two streams of skilled migrants entering Australia, those who acquire general skilled migration visas (points tested visas that don’t require offers of employment) and those that are sponsored by employers.

In the past employers have traditionally been reluctant to act as sponsors and for anyone who has been looking at recruitment related websites in the past you will notice how many employers have stipulated that workers must have “work rights”. They are essentially saying that there is a preference for those who hold general skilled migration visas because employers don’t have to sponsor these prospective employees as the general skilled migration visas give them work rights.

“Sponsorship” is an expensive option for an employer, as it involves guaranteeing the repatriation of the employee (and other members of the family unit) if the employee cannot afford return airfare, payment to an Australian industry training fund of between $ 1200 – $1800 per annum (in advance) for each year of the term of the work visa, and payment of some of the government fees associated with the work visa.

Whilst employers might not want to act as sponsors they often don’t have a choice. The processing time of general skilled migration visas is generally 12 months and often the lengthy processing time doesn’t suit employers. They don’t have a choice but to sponsor temporary workers. If the lack of sponsored migrant is going to cost the employer more in terms of lost productivity, operational inefficiency or an inability to service existing contracts and acquire new business, then it’s a bit of a no-brainer - employers have to act as sponsors.

Australia will open its borders to more than the handful of countries that are allowed to enter Australia at present (Japan, South Korea and Singapore) in the early months of next year and I’m sure that within time, those from Southern Africa will be welcomed again.

When this occurs I think that employers will have no option but to embrace sponsorship of workers that they want to employ as I don’t think that the limited numbers of general skilled migration visas (amounting to approximately 28,900 places) is going to sufficiently satisfy employers needs, and whilst many employers may find themselves in the uncomfortable position of having to act as sponsor the needs of their businesses will dictate their actions in this regard.

All in all 2022 looks like being an interesting year for migration and a good one for our industry. With the dawn of a post pandemic migration era approaching, the opportunity for prospective migrants to consider a move to Australia has never been better.

It's about time, as after two years in the wilderness we were due for a bountiful harvest, and as for learning more Greek, Omnicron is as far as I would like to go, it's enough Greek for me.


It’s Go Time

Posted by Myer on Oct. 8, 2021, 3:16 p.m. in Australia

The Prime Minister of Australia recently announced lifting of travel restrictions and the ability for certain types of travellers (including Australian citizens and permanent residents) to quarantine at home from November. The next phase would focus on students and temporary workers with tourists only being able to travel to Australia next year. Australians will also be allowed to travel overseas, for the past 18 months Australians have had to apply to their government for permission to leave Australia. 

Prior to this announcement there was a loose promise to open borders when Australia had reached 70 or 80% Covid vaccination rate but the Prime Minister is keen to hammer home several messages to amongst others, Australians to get vaccinated to enjoy freedom to travel, and to state governments that are still indicating a reluctance to open their own borders that they will be left behind and to the rest of the world (including migrants) that Australia will be opening up.

Key elements of the announcement are:

1.       International travel will commence for fully vaccinated citizens and permanent residents From November through NSW.

2.       Those Australian citizens and permanent residents who are fully vaccinated would be subject to a seven day home quarantine on return to Australia.

3.       Those who are unvaccinated will have to endure 14 days of managed quarantine, either in hotel quarantine or “managed quarantine”.

4.       Quarantine free travel is expected for countries with high vaccination rates and low infection rates.

5.       Covid tests will be required by international travellers.

The announcement is a clear carrot to Australians hesitant to obtain a vaccination with the promise of greater freedoms for those double vaccinated. It is also a clear signal to those states in Australia (such as Western Australia and Queensland) reluctant to open their borders because Covid case numbers are almost non-existent.

It’s a message that Australia needs to live with Covid and the previous unofficial elimination policy needs to be replaced by a learning to live with Covid message. Even the Premier of the most locked down city in the world (Melbourne) has decided to follow suit and open up our state borders once we have achieved 80% vaccination rate notwithstanding rapidly escalating Covid case numbers in Victoria (Wednesday we had over 1400 new infections in Victoria and over 1700 on Tuesday).

Australia is sending a clear signal to the rest of the world that we are emerging from the self-created cocoon of the past 18 months and like Rip van Winkle after a long sleep, rubbing its eyes, stretching and yawning before welcoming returning Australians, migrants and travellers. We are shedding the mantle of the hermit country and extending a welcoming fist bump to those seeking to travel to Australia.

Of course much of the detail hasn’t yet been released but already we have seen changes to the way in which state governments are addressing skill shortages. South Australia (no surprise) was the first to commence sponsoring certain occupations for overseas-based applicants and to be fair to South Australia, their announcement to sponsor 70 new occupations (in addition to several others that they are already prepared to sponsor) preceded the Prime Minister’s announcement. South Australia has long been the most proactive state in terms of sponsoring migrants with the most dynamic migration program amongst any of the states. It’s little wonder that approximately 65% of our clients based overseas are headed to South Australia.

I expect other states to follow suit because skill shortages in Australia are at profound levels notwithstanding the fact that currently three states in Australia namely ACT, Victoria and New South Wales are experiencing degrees of lockdown.

When previous lockdowns ended, the Australian economy bounced back in a V shaped recovery, due to several factors including huge Federal and State government stimuli packages, ability to continue working from home, online purchases and the loosely applied term of essential services continuing to operate. The fact that approximately 500,000 temporary visa holders left Australia 18 months ago when Covid travel restrictions were announced and the fact that apart from a few occupations on the priority skilled occupation list, we haven’t been acquiring sufficient skills to satisfy the demands of industry.

The federal government has announced that fiscal stimuli packages are to be discontinued once Australia reaches an 80% vaccination rate and it is envisaged that the pent-up consumer demand that has accrued after months of lockdown will provide more than sufficient economic stimulus to the economy that government support is no longer required. Of course not all industries were affected uniformly by government closures and if you are ever naïve enough to believe that “we are all in this together”, the next 12 months will dispel that myth as different sectors of the economy grow at different rates.

We are frequently asked by clients which Covid vaccinations are recognised in Australia. The Therapeutic Goods Association in Australia (the equivalent of the FDA in the US) recognises the following and the Prime Minister announced two new vaccines that would be recognised for the purposes of international travellers namely Sinovac-and Covidshield:

Pfizer Australia Ltd (Comirnaty)

AstraZeneca Pty Ltd (Vaxzevria)

Janssen-Cilag Pty Ltd (COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen)

Moderna AUstralia PTY Ltd (Spikevax)

The federal government hasn't made it mandatory for migrants to get vaccinated but the message is fairly clear that the unvaccinated will constitute a new underclass in society with proprietors of restaurants, pubs, sporting facilities able to request proof of vaccination before entry will be granted. Some state governments such as Victoria have made it compulsory for workers in certain occupations to have a Covid vaccine to work. The 'no jab, no work' policy. The list of occupations is too long to mention but it's expected to account for at least 1.25 million Victorians.

I've received a number of emails from those thinking of migrating to Australia in the wake of the Prime Minister's announcement telling me that now that Australia is opening its borders they have decided to recommence their migration plans and whilst this is welcome, my message during the past 18 months has been consistent one i.e. don't wait until such time as a the borders open to have a consultation with us to determine the most appropriate visa options that apply in your particular case because the lead in time before you can apply for the visa takes several months to complete.

Before you can apply for state sponsorship you need to have completed skills assessments and English-language tests, and you really want to be in a position to have this in place when places open up, so that when states like South Australia fully recommence sponsoring occupations, you can be that "first cab off the rank" as one of my previous Singaporean clients put it to me.

It's time to be proactive as far as your migration plans to Australia are concerned, or to put it another way "it's go time".


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