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Immigration Blog


Posts with tag: student visa

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Where to Study in Australia

Posted by Myer on Aug. 9, 2018, 11:32 a.m. in Visas


If you know some of the pitfalls in the process, student visas can be a useful pathway to not only acquiring an Australian qualification but potentially a pathway to obtaining permanent residence. However the location of your studies in Australia is as important as the subject matter of your studies.

Of course you have to satisfy a number of requirements including a genuine temporary entry criteria relating to student visas, and have to have sufficient funds to pay for your studies which can be quite pricey as an international student.

A student visa does allow you to work for 40 hours per fortnight as well as your spouse or partner and you have unlimited work rights when your course is not in session. This can help offset some of the living costs as well as gaining work experience in the Australian environment.

There are some advantages to studying towards a degree in Australia (two years of study required) or studying for a course that is on the medium to long-term skills shortages list. As either option could entitle you to either a two-year post study work visa (in the case of a degree) or at least an 18 month graduate work visa in the case of studying for a suitable course in an occupation on the medium to long-term skill shortages list.

While the Government does not endorse Australian study as a pathway to permanent residence, progressing from the temporary work visas to permanent residence is largely dictated by where you study in Australia.

There are two ways to obtain permanent residence, either:

1.       through nomination by your employer in one of two schemes, the employer nomination scheme or regionally sponsored migration scheme or

2.       through general skilled migration visas which are points tested and don’t require you to obtain an offer of employment.

This blog is largely focused upon pathway 2 above i.e. the pathways that are available under general skilled migration visas.

Because of the very high pass mark for the independent general skilled migration visa (the type of general skilled migration visa that does not require state sponsorship) more and more applicants for general skilled migration visas are relying upon state sponsorship as a pathway to securing permanent residence.

There are eight states or territories that produce lists of occupations that they will sponsor depending upon the needs of the economy of that particular state. However, because the pass mark for the independent general skilled migration visa is so high (in the region of 70/75 points for most occupations) more and more people are relying upon state sponsorship to obtain permanent residence.

As we don’t know in advance which occupations will appear on state sponsorship lists or what the quota is for a particular occupation should an occupation appear on a state sponsorship list, it’s impossible to know what qualification you should be studying that will improve your chances of gaining residence.

There are three states that will consider you for state sponsorship irrespective of whether your occupation appears on a state sponsorship list. These states are South Australia, ACT and Tasmania although Queensland does have a separate list for those who have studied in Queensland in certain occupations.

To give you a practical example Betty is a 23 year old student travelling to South Australia to complete a bachelor’s degree in marketing. She completed a diploma level qualification in Singapore in marketing and will be studying at least two academic years towards a bachelor’s degree in marketing.

At the end of her studies she can apply for a post study work visa. It will be valid for a period of two years and having this visa will enhance her employment options because most employers in Australia would prefer to employ those who have work rights. Once she completes one year of work experience in Adelaide she can then obtain a positive skills assessment as a marketing specialist if her year of employment is a close match for a marketing specialist.

Even if the occupation of marketing specialist doesn’t appear on the South Australia state sponsorship list she can nonetheless apply for state sponsorship for South Australia (assuming that she scores 65 points, has adequate English language ability and meets other requirements of a general skilled migration visa). This is greatly advantageous because the occupation of marketing specialist very rarely appears on state sponsorship lists.

She wouldn’t be able to do this if she studied for the same qualification in New South Wales. New South Wales does not give credit to those people studying for occupations that don’t appear on state sponsorship lists like some other states. It is critical to not only study for a qualification that is going to benefit you from a career perspective, but careful consideration of where you study in Australia is important if your end goal is to obtain permanent residence via the general skilled migration visa route.

Studying in Australia does not guarantee that you will get residence, and policy changes on a regular basis, so it’s preferable to try and avoid having to study in Australia if one can possibly obtain permanent residence without it. But if you are going to study in Australia, choosing the correct course and the correct location in Australia could be a useful pathway for those young enough with sufficient resources to have a pathway to permanent residence in Australia.

- Myer Lipschitz, Managing Partner & Immigration Attorney, IMMagine Melbourne Office

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Holding Back the Student Tide

Posted by Iain on Oct. 14, 2016, 9:57 a.m. in Immigration

After the upheaval of this week with the changes to the skilled migrant landscape and a few days to take it all in and digest the changes, you might be interested in my thoughts on it.

The changes appear to have been made in a big hurry. I have written several blogs in recent months and have been telling any potential client that might listen that I believed that change was going to be forced upon the Government in the skilled migrant ‘space’.


In two words – international students.

Tens of thousands have flocked to New Zealand in recent years to study, I suspect, only because the Government offered them an open work visa when they finished their course and through that, a pathway to residence under the skilled migrant category once they had secured a skilled job offer.

I have spoken of the ‘tsunami’ of Expressions of Interest that would start to wash upon the skilled migrant shores expected in late 2016 and through 2017 at every seminar I have delivered in recent times. Given there is a fixed number of skilled migrant visas available each year this massive increase in demand represented a clear threat to the entire skilled migrant programme. It was in danger of collapsing under the weight of applications.

When you operate a fixed pass mark of 100 points for those with skilled job offers and you have a finite number of resident visas to dish out, what do you do when the numbers being selected every two weeks from the pool who have claimed 100 points goes through the roof?

How does the system respond when, if they were all to be granted a resident visa, your annual target of 27,000 migrants would be filled within, say, six months? Would INZ just close the pool to further selection for another six months?

That is exactly what the Government was facing, yet until relatively recently I am reliably informed they did not accept.

The evidence was right in front of their faces.

In the past three pool draws alone the ‘normal’ 700 EOIs selected each fortnight for those claiming 140 points or 100 or more including a skilled job offer jumped from 700 to almost 1000. A 50% increase. 

We know that close to 40% of all skilled migrant approvals of late have come from former international students who studied in New Zealand and decided to stay. That percentage has been growing steadily in recent years.

I’d wager a close examination of those selected of late would reveal a significant percentage would be single young males, predominantly from India, with little to no work experience but an NZ qualification claiming points for job offers as Chefs or Retail Managers.

So the question confronting the Government (and the question some of us have been asking of them for a long time now) was – which skill sets does New Zealand need more of? The 24 year old international student who has studied in NZ but has little work experience and a job offer as a ‘Retail Manager’ or the 35 year old Software Developer with 15 years of work experience whose skills are desperately needed?

They can say whatever they like in terms of why they made the changes they just did but that was the dilemma facing the Government.

The solution?

Put the pass mark up to 160 points. Who does that knock out? 

Young inexperienced applicants with qualifications but with little to no work experience. Who dominates that demographic? International students, predominantly  from India. To be clear this is not an anti-Indian move it is jut they are the ones disproportionally impacted by the change as they make up the bulk of international students.

If I were a young international student who came to study in New Zealand having been, at worst, encouraged through the marketing carrot of the work visa and the residence, I might be more than a little miffed right about now. Their residence dreams will pretty much be in tatters.

Having worked through the options available to our many clients we are currently supporting with their applications, the fallout has by and large been minimal. At worst some are going to have to secure jobs outside of Auckland and some might have to delay filing their applications for a year or so while they accumulate additional points through New Zealand work experience. We have managed to give almost all of them a revised strategy to get them through this minefield.

The Government’s changes have however created another very real problem yet to be addressed.

There are tens of thousands of highly skilled jobs being created each year in Auckland. The mismatch between local skill sets among the unemployed and those jobs means these employers are not going to be able to fill many roles with migrants because those migrants now know they won’t have enough points if they accept the jobs.

Auckland is the nation’s jobs machine and many of the new jobs being created are in IT and trades related roles yet many of these applicants do not have qualifications that are now critical to securing the 160 points. 

These people have to look at going south or not coming at all (or appreciate their stay will be short term and on a work visa which most won’t tolerate; they simply won’t come).

So having dealt with the issue of the ‘tsunami’ the Government now has to come up with a solution that keeps intact Auckland as a migrant destination for the highly skilled without bursting the dam that is holding back the international students.

The simple solution would be a minimum salary threshold for jobs in Auckland that attracts additional bonus points. It would be an elegant solution (so long as you are not an international student) because it would reward the more experienced and the more highly paid; both of which tend to indicate a higher value skill set and greater value to the country.

My feeling is more changes will be announced soon because they need to be.

You cannot have a skilled migrant policy that now starves thousands of Auckland employers of desperately needed skills. The Government is smart enough to know it. They will come up with a solution packaged as ‘we only want highly skilled and high value migrants’.

This is simply code for ‘We blew it offering all those international students a pathway to residence but hey, we never promised them a resident visa...’

It isn’t pretty and there’ll be several thousand international students about to feel horribly let down.

It could have been avoided if the Government hadn’t been blind to the real reason the bulk of the students were coming to New Zealand – the study was just a part of their plan to secure residence.

Until next week...

Iain MacLeod

Southern Man

International Student Game

Posted by Iain on Sept. 24, 2016, 10:15 a.m. in Education

A week or so ago the Minister of Immigration proclaimed ‘they will not get residence’ when asked if he was concerned at the impact on the Skilled Migrant programme of the tens of thousands of international students his Government has promised, or recently given, job search work visas to (as a potential pathway to residence) having completed their studies in New Zealand. 

He said that only about 19% of international students go on and secure residence.

That, I suspect, will be unwelcome news to the many thousands who will feel they have essentially been sold a lemon by the NZ Government, Education NZ and a whole bunch of unlicensed education agents around the world, but particularly in India. A significant percentage of these students only came to study here on the promise of work and residence if they completed their studies. I suspect the agents in India did a lot of the promising but the Government laid the foundations through this misguided policy of dangling the work and residence carrot through immigration policy settings.

The Government has done little to dissuade these youngsters when their student visas are issued they might end up with a qualification but they’ll be using it back in India or elsewhere.

I am also not sure the 19% figure is accurate. I was recently given different figures by Immigration New Zealand (INZ). The figures I was given by suggested that around 45% of international students return home at the completion of their studies, around 48% stay in New Zealand and the balance of 7% enrol in new courses within New Zealand.

That 48% is now or shortly will be looking for skilled jobs and that represents, from India alone, around 14,000 individuals.

The Minister seems to suggest most won’t find work that will allow them to stay longer and perhaps get a resident visa.

I am not so sure but he might be right.

On the one hand anecdotal evidence suggests there is now a growing market in, essentially, fake job offers - particularly in Auckland. INZ is very aware of this and increasingly they are verifying the role both with the employer and the employee. They are doing this to make as sure as they can that the person is doing the job they claim to be doing and that it is both skilled and related to the job offered. Most staff also have to work for at least three months in the role and prove they have along with what they earned to ensure the job is ‘kosher’.

We are also aware of 'local wife wanted, will pay' type advertising. If you can't buy a job, buy a local wife instead and get residence through partnership.....

On the other hand we have decided to look at employing our own ‘in house’ recruiter to try and create a pipeline of employment opportunities for our selected clients. Over 90% of the applicants so far have been young Indian nationals on these post study, Job Search Work Visas. None are remotely qualified or experienced to do the job we are seeking but all are looking for that offer that will lead to securing a resident visa. Given most are employed locally in low skilled or entry level positions there is no doubt in my mind a number will run out of time to secure something skilled before they are forced to pack up and head home. 

To try and mitigate the potential backlash against the Government, education providers and education agents, the Minister has overseen the development and implementation of a Code of Practice whereby education providers will be held accountable for the actions of agents referring students to them. A good start – enough stick there without complicated regulators as we have in the immigration industry.

Having said that it is high time that all education agents were licensed by the Immigration Advisers Licensing Authority because no one in our business seriously believes that these agents are not also giving immigration advice and stopping with student visa information (those giving advice only on student visas do not require an immigration advisers license).We know they are advising students on work and residence options that come with a student visa and that is illegal and conveniently overlooked by our Government.

So while the Government is moving to tighten up things both at the visa application stage and with education providers and their agents there is still many thousands of youngsters whose parents have probably paid tens of thousands of dollars to study here who are about to be horribly let down when they realise what they came to study is not going to get them into the skilled job market.

So maybe the Minister is right and 81% will not get residence and be able to stay but given around half coming here want the residence at the end the Government needs to front up to the issue in a way they simply have not been.

The Government created the problem and now needs to try and solve it and they have a way to go before they do.

Until next week

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