A Blog & a brilliant editorial on Visa Capping Bill 2010:a must read!

Yadu Singh dryadusingh

http://tinyurl.com/2b8zvkz Visa capping bill 2010 is a disgrace-says this Blog.

I am enclosing an editorial  by Pawan Luthra, Editor, Indian Link newspaper. He has written a very pertinent and a brilliant piece on this matter. Thank you, Pawan.

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“The Visa capping issue

… is becoming the international students’ worst nightmare, says PAWAN LUTHRA

Minister Chris Evans could have the power to effectively order potential migration applications to be declared null and void if the Migration Amendment (Visa Capping) Bill is passed. This means that applicants will not be given a chance to appeal this decision and will have to leave the country within 28 days. With the Coalition remaining quiet on this and a minimal fuss from the Greens, chances of this becoming law are strong. Those most affected are potential migrants, a number of whom are students who may have studied in Australia for over two years. They have contributed thousands of dollars to the Australian economy, been model guests in this country and, in the future, could do Australia proud.

But now they’re becoming victims this game of politics masterminded by the Labor government which has been caught flat footed from the events in the student community since the past year. It is a transparent tactic of the Labor government, seeking to deflect focus from its refugee policies. It is easier to lay blame for the expansion of the student and migration market on the Howard government, rather than work to capture this special resource of talent already existing in the country. Caught within this political crossfire are the hopes and aspirations of thousands who have been waiting for over two years to have their visa applications processed and who now may have jobs, partners, children and other assets. They may have to abandon all this, as the possibility of being thrown out of the country within 28 days of Minister Evans decision imminently looms.

The Migration Amendment (Visa Capping) Bill 2010 would enable the minister to cap the number of visas issued in a given year to applicants with “specified characteristics.” This could include chefs or hairdressers or any other occupation. Once the designated annual cap is reached – which could conceivably be set at zero – all outstanding visa applications with the same characteristics will be terminated. So its wasted dollars for someone who has spent thousands in getting their health checks, skills assessed and qualifications recognised. Yes, the visa application fee will be refunded, but all other costs will be borne by the applicant. This does not include the cost of education which the applicant may have embarked upon in Australia with a dream of applying for residence based on the general intent of the laws at that time.

What the Labor government is doing isn’t wrong, but the sentiment is indeed immoral.

As depicted in the famous Australian movie, The Castle, Daryl Kerrigan fought a property development company which wanted to acquire his house to extend the airport. In the climax, the barrister representing Kerrigan said that it was not a house which the property developer was acquiring; it was a home of dreams and memories. Similarly, a migration application can be terminated abruptly and without notice, but it is at the priceless cost of destroying the dreams and ambitions of thousands of potential migrants. It is a heartrending sight and their despair is palpable.

Now is the time for community leaders to speak up and fight for the rights of these students. Public statements and petitions have been made by well intentioned individuals; but it is time that our Indian associations take this cause forward, in a test of true and vocal leadership. Visa capping in its current form is wrong and this message needs to be sent, loud and clear, to Canberra and the Rudd government.”

Editorial by Pawan Luthra

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Similarly, Anuj Kulshrestha, Editor, Hindi Gaurav, has written a great piece on this matter. He has included comments from some of the leaders from “Friends of International students” with his write-up. Thank you, Anuj.

http://www.hindigaurav.com/community-news-0-65

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Indian Sub-Continent Times [ http://www.theistimes.com/mr-evans-its-democracy-not-anarchy/ ] has written a great article on this issue too. Thank you, Ashok Kumar.

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Please click www.fairgo4internationalstudents.org/ and support the petition against this Bill.

“United we win, divided we lose”.

Regards

Yadu Singh/Sydney/28th June, 2010

http://www.twitter.com/dryadusingh

“Fair go” for international students:an appeal from the Indian Australian community.

Hello

A large number of leaders from Indian Australian community met in the Harris Park community centre earlier this month. Several international students were there too.

UIA, GOPIO, FAIA, Australian Punjabi Heritage Association, AISA, Australian Punjabi Business Association, Punjabi Council, Malayali Association, Tamil Manram, TAA, Hindi Samaaj, Deepavali Committee of NSW and others were represented. Many other associations have extended their support too.

Harry Singh, Raj Datta, Moninder Singh, Rohitas Batta, Padmanabham Karamil, Navjot Singh, Ajay Sharma, Ranjit Khera, Prabjot Sandhu, John Niven, Amarinder Bajwa, Lucky Singh, Harry Walia, Vish Vishwanathan and many more were there. I joined it too. Several student leaders like Raveena Garg, Apoorv Chaturvedi and Syed Sakib were there to share their situation.

From this meeting, a group called “Friends of International students” comprising of 10 people was constituted. Its membership is listed in the website which is enclosed.

http://fairgo4internationalstudents.org/

There is a concern among people in regards to the potential for unfair outcomes for the former international students, if the Visa capping bill 2010 becomes an Act. This Bill, if it becomes an Act, will give powers to the Immigration minister to apply “cap and terminate” provisions of this Act retrospectively.

As another post in my Blog [ http://tinyurl.com/2ftcspt ] explains, this Bill has some features which may have very serious implications for former international students who have completed their training/education in Australia, have applied for the PR and are on bridging Visa currently. No body has any argument about the prospective application of the powers of the Act [if this Bill is passed] but people are very concerned about the potential use of the “capping and cull” powers retrospectively.

BTW, others also have concerns in these matters. Some links are enclosed.

http://tinyurl.com/2exu5cd
http://tinyurl.com/265hxht

My appeal to you is;

-to visit the Website http://fairgo4internationalstudents.org/

-to consider supporting the petition in support of these ex-students[who have been here for years, finished their training, have applied for PR and are on bridging Visa.

-and to forward the links to your friends and contacts for their support.

Regards

Yadu Singh/Sydney/26th June, 2010

http://www.twitter.com/dryadusingh

SBS Radio [Hindi]:my interview on Visa capping bill 2010.

http://www.sbs.com.au/yourlanguage/hindi/player/page/day/Sunday/time/09/channel/3

It starts at 35.15 and goes until 45.oo minutes.

Ms Kumud Merani was the interviewer.

This covers the Australian Migration Amendment [Visa capping] Bill 2010. Some people have called this Bill as “cap and cull” Bill.

Please see a detailed post on this Bill in my Blog.

Yadu Singh, Sydney/13th June, 2010

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