Business Times

Limited migration opportunities in unlimited Australia

By Gayani Perera

The Australian Government has maintained its tough policies throughout with regards to migration laws from the month of February 2009 just after the global crisis where the Australian government stopped processing applications and introduced a Priority Processing Policy. Then the changes with regards to migration policies and laws were announced on 8th February 2010,

In the year July 2010 the Australian government decided to cap and cease applications that were lodged prior to July 2007, which adversely affected many applicants who were in the pipeline of the migration process with hopeful expectations of migrating.

Susantha Katugampala with Brendon O'Connor Minister of Home Affairs of the Australian Government

The Sunday Times Advertorial Desk spoke to Mr. Susantha Katugampala, an Accredited Immigration Law Specialist practising for over 15 years in Australia, who is also the Director of Australia Gateway located at the Jaic Hilton Towers, to get his view on the latest changes made with regards to Australian migration.

"With the government announcing the changes with regards to the Point Test of Skilled Migration which will be coming to effect from 1st July this year many changes will take place with regards to migration laws and policies which will affect a majority of applicants", says Mr. Katugampala.

When asked as how different the changes that are deemed to take place this year in July will be to those that have already taken place last year, Mr. Katugampala said, "In the year 2010 the government introduced two occupation lists for Skilled Migration. If an applicant applies for migration independently or with the sponsorship of a family or close relative he/she can only use occupations that are stated on schedule 3 of the skilled occupation list which is now limited to 190+ occupations. Prior to July 2010 the list included around 400 occupations which show that almost 50% of the existing occupation has been denied."

With regards to state sponsored skilled migration an estimated 400 skilled occupations are stated on schedule 4. However this list when compared to the lists that are provided by the different states or territory listings in Australia most of the occupations listed in schedule 4 are not given in the state sponsored listing.

The government is further tightening the rules with the introduction of the new Point Test. Under the new Point Test system each individual must have a component of 7 for each IELTS Examination with regards to English which is the main highlighted change, making it very challenging criteria to meet for many Sri Lankan candidates. Individuals who have more than 7 years work experience will receive more points according to the new Points Test.

Those who are at the peak working age which is the 25 to 33 age group will receive higher points. Also PhD holders will also receive more points under the new points system.

Under the new Point Test professionals will receive 15 points on the skilled point test and Trades Individuals will receive only 10 points thereby marking a distinguishable change between professional and trades individuals.

"What is discouraging however is the fact that most of the individuals who will benefit from the Points Test will not find their occupations falling due on the Skilled Occupation Lists allowing which allow them to apply independently thereby applicants will be required to obtain State Sponsorship, which allows the state discretion to pick and choose individuals", added Mr. Katugampala.

Australia has always followed a non discriminatory migration programme where all applicants are treated equally. However with different states having the discretion to choose prospective applicants they have the ability to distinguish people from certain countries.

Under the new Points Test Australian citizens residing in regional areas have the opportunity to sponsor their relatives. However the remainders will be up against restrictions when sponsoring their relatives. These restrictions have clearly affected the family reunion concepts that have been previously adhered to by the Australian government.

Commenting on the new changes to come Mr. Katugampala said, "By July 2012 the Australian Government will be making further changes with regards to migration laws and policies where potential applicants with regards to Skilled Migration to Australia can only register a petition of interest only which will enable them to avoid unpleasant rejections. This will change the non-discriminatory migration policies of the government allowing it the choice to invite selected applicants to apply for migration.
Australian migration due to this will no longer be a form filling exercise and has now become one of the most complex areas with regards to law. Therefore it is crucial that applicants concerned understand the facts properly and receive the best possible professional advice when applying for migration to Australia."

With regards to foreign students already studying in Australia, they can apply for their Graduate Skilled Temporary visa before December 2012, which will fall under the old occupation list which will last for 18 months. The processing of this visa may take 6 to 12 months and this category will be allowed to stay in the country for a period of 2 years. However if one's occupation is on the current list students will still be allowed to apply for migration onshore. However students will have the chance to obtain work experience and approach an employer and apply for an Employer Sponsored Visa.

The processes involved in obtaining Employer Sponsored Visa to approach an Australian Employer. This is where the services of an experienced immigration lawyer will come into play, where the best deal can be negotiated for the mutual benefit of both the employer and employee.

On a final note Mr. Katugampola further stated that Australian migration is not impossible but only high quality applicants falling within the right age group will be successful, therefore it is crucial that one obtain the right advice in order to reap the best results. Being highly skilled, having good English and long skilled work experience may be the key to success. If the applicants want accurate good legal advice then it is the responsibility of the applicant to obtain the best to achieve the best outcomes in Australian migration.

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Limited migration opportunities in unlimited Australia


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