Migration amendment [Visa capping Bill] 2010:what is it all about?

Australian Migration Amendment [Visa Capping Bill] 2010 has been through the Lower House of Australian Parliament last month. It is currently with a committee of the Senate. People have been asked to send their submissions. I understand that people can still send their submissions.

Visa Capping Bill has caused severe anxiety among the International students as it has certain features which may have some serious impact on their chances to be Permanent Residents in Australia. Their anxieties are outlined very clearly in their comments to the National Interest programme of ABC Radio National, anchored by Peter Mares who interviewed Minister Evans. Mark Webster who is an expert in this area and is the chair of Migration Institute of Australia, NSW chapter and Peter Mares had also written summaries on this matter.

Here are the links of this Radio National programme and other relevant write ups.

http://www.abc.net.au/rn/nationalinterest/stories/2010/2918752.htm

http://inside.org.au/capping-and-culling-the-migration-queue/

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/death-knell-for-overseas-students/story-e6frg6nf-1225878156303?from=public_rss

http://www.acacia-au.com/general_skilled_migration_changes_8_feb_2010.php

http://www.acacia-au.com/GSM_changes_impact_on_international_students.php

http://www.acacia-au.com/frequently_asked_migration_questions_student_forum.php

http://www.acacia-au.com/Minister_Seeks_Power_to_Terminate_Visa_Applications.php

http://www.acacia-au.com/comments_on_chris_evans_immigration_capping_bill.php

I enclose the link from Dept of Immigration website on this matter too.

http://www.immi.gov.au/skilled/migration-amendment.htm

As we recall, Minister Evans has been saying that Australia wants to have a demand-driven Immigration programme, not a supply driven programme. He has mentioned that we have an oversupply of cooks and hair-dressers. Instead of them, we need doctors, nurses, engineers etc.

To achieve this result, he has done several things. One was to bring out this new Skilled Occupations List [SOL]. Others included putting a temporary freeze on granting Visa from the beginning of May 2010.

Visa Capping Bill is the latest instrument which Minister wants to have it passed by the Parliament. This will give him the power to manage the Skills categories and the types of migrants which are needed in Australia. With this power, Minister can outline “characteristics” of the applicants and apply a cap on the number of Visa given to that category  in a particular year. After that number has reached, all remaining applications are “terminated” as if they have never been made. “Termination” is different from “rejection” because “terminated” applicants will not have a right to challenge that “termination”. The application fees for such applications will be returned but it will not include fees one has paid for migration advice, medicals and other associated expenses.

About 61000 places are available for the General Skilled Migration [GSM] places for the next year. There are already 147000 applicants for GSM in the queue right now and more than 25% of them [38990] are from International students who have completed their studies in Australia. 17594 are cooks and hair-dressers alone. Quite a lot are on bridging Visa, awaiting the final decisions from the Immigration dept. Let me give an example to clarify things here. If Minister Evans picks the characteristic “Cooks” and applies a “Cap” of a certain number [likely to be a small number], then all remaining applicants from “Cooks” category will be “terminated” even though these applicants have been on the waiting list for decisions for years. These “terminated” applicants will have 28 days to leave Australia. This is where the anxiety is coming from.

If you see the comments in the Radio National programme and the submissions to the Senate committee, people have been in Australia for many years. They have sacrificed a lot. They had to arrange huge amounts of finances by taking loans, selling/mortgaging their houses/farms before they came to Australia on a student Visa. Australia allowed them to come and study here. Australian International education was marketed [marketed by those who were involved in marketing on behalf of International education in Australia] with the lure of PR visa because certain courses/trades were in the preferred list which would give them the almost certain chance of getting a PR Visa after completion of their diploma/course/training. Australia was a preferred place for international students because of this link. It is true that Australian Gov itself did not declare this link in a legal sense but this link was clearly used in the marketing. There was a practical link of getting PR after completion of certain courses because those courses were in the preferred list. By the way, it is not a serious argument today that previous Gov was wrong in linking education with immigration. This argument is not going to help the issue at hand.  There is no denying that mismanagement has taken place. Many are now of the opinion that education and immigration should have never been linked.

New SOL has removed many of the low value courses which is a good thing. This will take care of future students. Visa capping bill gives powers to the minister to manage the waiting list of those whose trades are not in demand anymore and are not in the new SOL but whose applications are pending for PR at this point of time. Apparently, there is a massive backlog of >2 years for general skills migration [GSM] applications. Backlog is one thing but Minister also wants to make sure that people with low-value trades are not getting PR and distorting the overall mix of skills which Australia gets from GSM.

Australia has the sovereign power to decide who it will accept as immigrants and what skills it needs. Nobody can have an issue with this inalienable power.

As is true with every power, the powers of this nature should be used judiciously [and Minister admits it himself], keeping in mind the “human consequences” of those who will be affected. Powers of this nature should be used keeping in mind that “these” people came here because Australia allowed them through a smart [or was it?] marketing and they have invested huge amount of money and time in Australia over 4-5 years. We have to be mindful that many of the students and their families back in whichever country they came from will have very difficult times if their “investment” of money and time fails and they are forced to leave Australia in this manner.

If you read the comments as mentioned above, many Ex students are already in the relevant jobs after completing their training. There is no reason why they can’t get the PR. They will suffer too if the power from this Bill is used as they will be in that “characteristic” or “cap & cull” category.

Yes, people can go for PR via Employer Nomination Scheme [ENS] or get PR via State or regional sponsorship scheme  if they can get such sponsorships [SOL does not matter for such sponsorships] but it is not going to be available for most.

The discussion on a topic like this will always bring the question of whether the changes should be prospectively applied or whether it is fair to apply them retrospectively.

Minister Evans has sought this power but has not declared which trades he is definitely going to target. Cooks and hair-dressers have however been mentioned repeatedly. Which “class or classes” will be subjected is not clear but this can be applied to any “class” as there is nothing in the Bill which excludes any “class” on which this “cap and cull” power can not be used. Protection visa is the only exception.

Minister Evans has his justifications for this power but I am concerned about the “human” consequences and with the plight of students. I am visualising very serious difficulties for affected international students and their families with possible impact on their physical and mental health.

When new SOL was declared, I thought the transitional measures were going to be useful for those who were impacted. With Visa capping Bill, it appears that the relief offered by transitional measures may be taken away for at least some trades like cooks and hair-dressers.

What is your view?

Dr Yadu Singh/Sydney/June 11, 2010

http://www.twitter.com/dryadusingh

19 thoughts on “Migration amendment [Visa capping Bill] 2010:what is it all about?

  1. I would say that the country definitely needs professional migrants. All of us should consider that Australian Govt. has never issued even a single student visa till date with an assurance of permanent settlement in this country. Even today, most of the top universities never discuss avenues for permanent residency or assurance of post educational professional placement.

    Unprofessional money making educational institutions which took birth in the recent past have misguided students by marketing Australian Permanent Residency in the name of Education.

    SOL revision has always been an ongoing activity; it is a gamble for the sake of PR when a software engineer diverts his mind to become a hair dresser just because IT is not in the skills occupation list.

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  2. Yadu I am with this one. I note you do not mention about political parties and you do not talk about Indian students but use the word international students. Both the Liberal Party and the Labor Party supported this bill when it came to parliament. Also it is an international student issue. What you have said is commendable. I feel that the government should use the number allocated for migration in the forward estimates and absorb these numbers first and then open up to the other people from overseas. In short let’s deal with the people at home first. Let’s deal with them in a humanitarian way.

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    • Harish, I am not interested in which political party is doing this or is not doing that. I am also not interested in which party has done what. Being a medico and a community person, I can’t remain oblivious of the anxiety, stress and desperation which people are going through. I am in touch with several such people and am troubled with their agony. I can imagine very well what their family back home overseas will be going through right now. “Fair go” and compassion in their matters would be my preference.

      Thanks & regards

      Yadu Singh

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  3. Yadu, I think I am quite clear in what I have said. Its not a political issue. I know I have been to some functions last week and people, not aware of the political process, have tried to make this into one. The fact is that both the parties voted together.

    No one has come out with the alternative and thats what I a have said. Lets deal with curent applicants within Australia and grant them visa in the exisiting quota.

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    • Harish, you are right. Politics must be kept out of this at all costs. Politics is very unpredictable and can go to any direction.
      The issues, we need to focus on are “fair go”, “right things to do” and “Australia’s needs and interests”.

      I am in full support for the new Skilled Occupations list [SOL] and a demand-driven immigration programme.

      Out of box solutions may be needed.

      Regards

      Yadu Singh

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  4. Hi Yadu,

    I agree with you that the current focus should be on
    (1) “fair go”, i.e., if the students came here based on certain promises by the authorities then those promises should be honoured.

    I am also in favour of the new Skilled Occupations list [SOL] and a demand-driven immigration programme, as long as the students already here are fairly dealt with.

    Vinod

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  5. I totally agree with you Mr. Yadhu. This is a disaster. Not only for International students but for Australia. Some would argue that we are against it because we are of Indian/immigrant background so let me now tell everyone why it is bad for Australia from Australian point of view.

    Australia’s third largest export is International Students who’s number rose many fold in recent years because of the fair immigration policies at the time of John Howard. It was based on point system, it was clear and it was trustworthy. I agree that it had loopholes which the agents exploited but overall it was a good, fair system and that is why education became a huge bread winner for Australia.

    The new system which Labor party wants to bring will make Australia’s education system unattractive and uncertain. Why would students want to go to Australia when their applications can be terminated at any time at the whim of the minister?

    International student numbers will nose dive as a result and that will hit Australian economy. When I first came to Australia Macquarie University use to look like a big farm house. Now they are building skyscrapers and have top class infrastructure. The question is where is that money coming from? It is all coming from the high number of International students from India, China, Hong Kong etc who pay 3 times the fees in comparison to local students.

    This unfair, unjust and discriminatory bill will hit Australia’s education sector hard and all the benefits that Aussie students get like better facilities, more lecturers would diminish.

    This bill is not only unfair to overseas students but it will damage Australia’s international reputation as a top destination for education.

    Political parties whether Labor or Liberal are looking at it from the prism of elections rather than what is best for Australia’s long term future. When students number will plummet and when Universities will start laying off staff only then they will realise their mistake but by then Australia’s reputation will be in tatters.

    Already many Indian students have decided not to pick Australia as their preferred destination for education due to racist attacks and now this bill would be the final nail in the coffin.

    Anti Immigration groups and racist can rejoice now but what will they say to our fellow white Australians when they will loose jobs and made redundant as a result of this bill?

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    • Thanks, Mark. Very appropriate comments. I have no doubt that we are going to see a significant impact within this year itself on internation education in Australia.

      We still have to deal with the issue of “fair go” for students who came here because they were allowed to come here. We all know how the marketing for international education was done.

      Regards

      Dr Yadu Singh

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  6. Hi Yadu,
    I agree with you. But, my point is that Government already announced new SOL. So, applications for certain professions are going to be stop. Why they are going cap or terminate some applications. Minister should wait atleast a year to see the result of last changes. Why did not government do something on that time when marketing agents were using PR as a tool to attract people to study in Australia. First they took our money, most prospective years of life and now they want to kick us out. This is really unfair. I dont know if somebody can drive our message to this deaf and cruel government. We gave our life to see the result of our hard work which we did here. Nobody interested in our lives, they behaving like thugs. Take advantage of people and after throw them.

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  7. Dear Dr.Yadoo Singh

    It is very cruical matter for majority of students specially who admitted themselves into Cookery. Hair Dressing, Pre Press Graphic Designing. I think Need of the day is to take this matter with Consulate General here and to make a Committe of senoir people including some migration lawyers to propose some alternate arrangments for the existing mob here and to reach to some amecable solution to provide some more options to these students rather than to push them back to their native places. It is not only concern of Indians students it is international though most of them belong to Asian countries. I look forward if this initiative can be taken to have a meeting as soon as possible. If this has already been taken at any level which I am not aware of . Please advise

    With Regards
    B P Arora

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  8. Hi Dr Yadu,

    Your point of view is correct & fair. The human side is always there. However, When you called this as an investment then there’s always a business risk involved and necessitates some insurance cover for this. Even In India while choosing a career people do gamble that when they finish that particular course there could be a good market to reap. All institutions market that. If it doesn’t happen then naturally all ’emotional’ and ‘other’ things shall pop up. Are we sueing those Institutions? It’s OK to invest in & loose just because it’s their home ground. But while they do so here in an alien territory the risks are great but the ’emotions’ and ‘other’ things are all same. The people, the parents or whoever took the risk, they must have already known this very well. They are not certainly fools.

    People can market anything but as a buyer and cash giver one has to exercise all the options before yielding to the temptations & expectations. These people are not boat people who has nothing to loose so any thing in the way is a
    ‘Fair go’. This is like some one’s larger home and the house rules do apply. My words are dry but they are the facts. Risk taking is the daily evil we all face and there’s no escape from this. The so called parents of these students also invest into other ‘dry’ business investments such as shares, any business you name it etc. and when they fall or crash everybody in that family is devastated including their future. It’s the same to anyone as it goes.

    In a transient flux like this such imminent dangers are unavoidable. From the ministerial point of view Evans has to
    do what he has to do. If he considers the backlash then the W/L will be never ending like catching a tiger’s tail. He’s also taking this risk whether we call it discrimination or Aussy economy risk or Financial Crisis to Edu institutions etc. So this decision is taken and we’ve nothing but to call this as the destiny, bad luck to all those affected.

    Like our great say ‘This also shall pass away!’in the context of Time. In the next round one can always find new gaps and shall come through. As we Indians the Indian business lords shall come around and help as many as possible with a human touch that you mentioned.

    Since the above points are not fully supportive to your view you may not be inclined to publish as you have done to my previous comment for another issue. However, let this be known to at least one person and that is you.

    Good luck to your community consciousness.

    Regards.

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    • I went through whole blog & comments and find your view more relevant. People discussed many issues & Consequences but nobody discussed what prompted the Govt to take this step and how come both ruling & opposition parties felt so strongly about the need of such law. In absence of any first hand experience I just guess the public wave forcing ruling elite for this sudden drastic change. They must call it a routine exercise but we know something triggered it, and it is not the difference in values system but the behaviour & attitude of those people who not only made their future bleak but also closed doors for others. I wonder if Govt will permit them knowing their deeds and punish others based on this experience. This is all foul cry of Uncontrolled influx of psudo-students gambling for PR of a developed country got cought midway. We must accept the truth and learn not to repeat such mistakes in future I mean in other countries if they gave us a chance. The fault of Australian Govt is that they give such open hand to an industry driven visa policy. This will spoil the chances of real students and eligible technocrats in Australia as well as other developed countries as they keep a watch on such happenings to devise policies. I still hope these guys will try to pose like well mannered people and learn to respect value system of host nation. I strongly feel very few will leave due to any legislation (in debate) but will relocate to some places where they can manage to live illegally. Which will force their convertion into docile, polite people from their current or maybe recent behaviour.

      Please edit to smoothen the edges if felt rough or totally discard it but please answer the issues raised

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  9. Totally agree with you Dr. Balu.
    Permanent residency cannot be taken for granted by students who come to study here and the governmnet has every right to change the laws. Immigration laws, in the first place, did not say that if you study in Australia you will be guaranteed a PR. If the students assumed that, then its only their fault. Immigration laws have always been changing in Australia and for that matter in U.K , USA and all other Western countries and this risk should be taken into account before making any decisions.
    While the sorry plight of the students is understandable, thats life .
    My own observation has revealed that the Indian diaspora that migrated to Australia upto year 2000 under the skilled Independent category are more skilled and have made more contribution to the country and compared to the migrants who obtained PR after coming here as students. In fact, the shonky colleges here have only used the Student to PR route to rort the immigration system and the government cannot be blamed for stopping this.
    Finally, if Australia is to make any progress in the years to come, then it needs more Doctors, Engineers and Scientists trather than hairdressers or cooks !

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  10. Hello sir.
    I am one of the victim, who is worried because of visa cappin bill.
    here in australian media there is nothing about media capping bill.
    sir, if u can our media indian media might help us see how they help indian student in racism issue. still one and half month left.

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  11. Hello all,
    If Australia is a democratic country , do we have the rights to comment on this visa capping issue? If the government introduced the new SOL to get rid of cooks and hairdressers then why are they thinking to introduce visa capping bill? Is it because most of the cooks and hairdressers are from Asia? Is this a new and modern form of White Australia policy?

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  12. Any democratic country must listen to its citizen at large and not prospective immigrants and I think they are working to the true spirit of democracy, which is yielding these results. Our own Govt (though not that responsive and citizen focused) if made to choose between Bangladeshi Migrants and national interests, have to show that they can’t sacrifice national interests for allowing poor fellows make an earning.
    Additionally for any good country its not the money that comes first but its values and quality of life of its citizens. I appreciate Australia for that, if it is only about making by any mean then why stop here only to allow pseudo institutes to rob pseudo students and thereby importing substandard citizens and not go for allowing mafia to do some big business or growing and selling narcotics or go even further by selling arms & ammunition or nuclear technology and hardware in terror markets

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  13. Yeah! Australia is a TOP destination for students, whether on an exchange or to study for your post-graduate degree.

    IELTS is relatively easy and Australian admissions are relatively easier than getting into American universities. Also, the scoring neednot be as much high if you are looking for an American univeristy to join in MS or MBA. The cost of living is relatively same, however, the admissions are much more easier than in US. Further, Australia migration and citizenship is relatively easy than US green card policies.

    Like

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