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Skilled immigration visa fees to increase from 1 Jan 2012

November 29th, 2011


The Gillard Government announced today that it will shortly implement a new visa fee system to ensure taxpayers are no longer subsidising visa applications. Read the rest of this entry »

Change to processing location for partner and family migration applications lodged in Pakistan or Afghanistan

November 27th, 2011

 

New family migration applications from most applicants located Afghanistan or Pakistan will soon be processed in Islamabad, Pakistan. Read the rest of this entry »

Commencement of processing of Priority 5 applications

November 25th, 2011

 

The Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) has advised that it is “very close” to allocating some Priority Group 5 applications to case officers. Read the rest of this entry »

New Australian Immigration Council Established

October 9th, 2009
Chris Evans establishes new immigration advisory council.

Chris Evans establishes new immigration advisory council.

Chris Evans, the Australian Minister for Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) has announced the launch of a new Council for Immigration Services and Status Resolution today.

The advisory council established by the Australian immigration department is there to help speed up the process by which immigrants and refugees statuses are established. They will also help Australian immigration officials to process Australian visas quicker and more effectively.

The council will also provide independent advice on government measures related to immigration policy initiatives.

The new council will take over from the Detention Advisory Group and will be meeting on the 21st October to identify priority issues that need addressing over the next two years.

Chris Evans stated: “the government’s focus is on resolving the immigration status of people quickly and fairly while ensuring they are treated humanely and with dignity and respect.�

“The council will provide independent advice on policies, services and programs to achieve timely, fair and effective resolution of immigration status for people seeking asylum or other migration outcomes in Australia.�

If you have an Australian immigration, visa or travel question that requires a speedy answer, join our friendly community today!

Why use a Migration Agent?

September 24th, 2009

Applying for a visa in Australia is not an easy process. Australia operates a points system and you will be assessed on the skills that you have, your qualifications and/or your occupation, your health and possibly other factors too. You need to ensure that any application is worded correctly and nothing is missed out, to ensure you get the maximum points available. You can of course, choose to do all of this yourself, but any mistakes, no matter how small, could result in delays or the lodgment of an invalid application – and don’t forget that the government does not refund application fees, except in very limited circumstances.

A registered migration agent is there to help you through the process. They can tell you which visa/s you are eligible to apply for, out of Australia’s 140 + visa options; and will be open and honest with you about your chances of gaining entry into Australia.

What should I look for in a Migration Agent?

Your migration agent should be qualified and registered with the Migration Agents Registration Authority. The MARA has a code of conduct that their registered members must follow, this includes maintaining a professional library and attending regular professional courses to keep informed as to all the recent changes in the laws and policies governing visas and visa applications.  MARA registered agents are also required to hold client monies paid in advance in a separate Clients’ Account and be of good character.

Click on the link to view the list of registered migration agents.

You can also view MARA’s Code of Conduct:

Are they expensive?

The fees that a migration agent can charge are discretionary, however under the MARA’s code of conduct, any fee charged has to be reasonable in the circumstances. The migration agent should let you know what the fee will be in writing, before you proceed with their services. It may be worth comparing a couple of quotes just to ensure that you are not being asked to pay too much.

Click on the link to view the list of typical migration agency fees, although please do note that these fees are only typical and you may be charged more, depending on your registered migration agent’s individual fee structure.

What will they do?

Some migration agencies have a free online skills assessment form for you to fill in that will give you a brief indication of your eligibility. However most will want to obtain detailed information about your circumstances.  This can be done face to face, over the telephone or via email. They will then be able to tell you how successful they think your application will be, or which Australian visa you should be applying for. They’ll also have an in-depth knowledge of Australian’s migration laws and any recent changes to it, which they will use to support your application to its best advantage.

They will ensure that the correct supporting documentation is sent and that your application is valid and accurate. You’ll also receive updates on the progress of your application and your migration agent will liaise with the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) on your behalf during the assessment process. Your migration expert will also answer any questions that you have and will advise you, should you be required to attend an interview.

So what questions should I be asking?

Once you have checked that your migration agent is registered with MARA, you then need to ask them:

  • What are their areas of expertise.
  • What experience they have with the type of application you are considering.
  • What their assessment is of your chances of success as an individual.
  • What are all your options.
  • What will be expected from you.
  • Whether they are charging a fixed fee, an hourly rate, or a combination of both.
  • Ask to see the fees and all the terms and conditions in writing. Clarify too, whether you will be charged for incidentals, such as telephone calls, faxes, responses to emails, postage and couriers etc.
  • On the note of fees and charges, you should be aware that the DIAC’s visa application charges, the cost of medicals, police clearance certificates, translations of documents etc., are generally charged separately, in addition to your migration advisor’s professional fees.

What if my application is not successful?

Most professional migration agents will not take on a case they think has no chance of success.  However if your visa application is refused through no fault of the migration agent, then unfortunately you cannot claim a refund as the agent will have spent a substantial amount of time interviewing you, preparing your application, ensuring all the paperwork is correct and liaising with the relevant authorities on your behalf. You can only receive a refund if you can prove that your application failed because of negligence of the agent.

However, if after reading all of that you decide that you’d rather go it alone and save the agent fees, then you can benefit from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s little visa wizard tool that allows you to search for the right visa for you. So long as you don’t mind the paperwork and endless checking and rechecking of details, then it is possible to do it yourself. Here at Embrace Australia we have a general visa guide and should you have any questions, you can benefit from advice offered in our community section from one of our experts or members who have been there before. Whatever you decide, best of luck!

Our thanks to go Susan Wareham McGrath, a registered migration agent, for all her help on this article. Susan is also able to answer any general questions in our community section. If you wish to contact Susan about the services she provides, you can do so by visiting her website at www.susanwareham.com.

DIAC Slide in Changes to Australian Skilled Migration Visas

September 23rd, 2009
Skilled migrants to Australia face visa changes.

Skilled migrants to Australia face visa changes.

It looks as though the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship are using the blanket of red dust that is currently settling over Sydney to hide one or two changes they’ve made to the priority processing for Skilled Migration Visas that will affect many people immigrating to Australia as workers.

The changes were announced today with no prior warning. Nor were there any media releases from Senator Chris Evans’ Department or from the DIAC Newsroom.

The changes affect Skilled Australian Visas only and alters the priority processing procedure. However the changes will affect all those planning to immigrate to Australia as graduates and workers.

As from today, priority processing will apply to the following visas:

  • Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS)
  • Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS)
  • General Skilled Migration (GSM) with the exception of:
    • Skilled subclass 476 (Recognised graduate)
    • Skilled subclass 883 (Sponsored residence)
    • Skilled regional subclass 887

The order of priority has changed, with the highest priority now going to those visa applications that have employer sponsorship. After that priority is given to those whose occupations are on the critical skills list (CSL). Bottom of the priority list are family sponsored visa applications.

For Subclass 485 (Skilled – Graduate) the highest priority will be given to applications from people having completed an Australian PhD in an Australian institution.

For Business Skills (Provisional) visas, again priority is given to applications that have Commonwealth or government sponsorship.

The government hopes that that changes will ensure that Australia’s economy is boosted from the early processing of the highly skilled migrant applications. They state on the website that “This directive responds to the needs of the Australian economy.”

The new arrangements come into force today and affects all new applications lodged from today including those applications that are in the final stages of processing.

For new applicants who fit the criteria, it means a quicker processing time of 12 months, however others can expect to wait at least three years for their visa application to be processed.

Click on the links to find out more about the Critical Skills List (CSL) or the Migration Occupations in Demand List (MODL). If you have any questions to ask about the critical skills list or any aspect of visa applications, join our embrace community today and benefit from expert advice as well as support from our members.

Robbie Williams Reported to be Looking for a Place in Oz

September 22nd, 2009
Will Robbie be emigrating to Australia?

Will Robbie be emigrating to Australia?

There are unconfirmed reports that Robbie Williams is set to immigrate to Australia with his girlfriend Ayda Field.

Robbie reportedly told an Australian radio station 2DayFM that his girlfriend had a psychic feeling that she would end up migrating to Australia, to which Robbie was said to have replied: “Let’s do it!”

Robbie Williams then went on to tell the radio station how he plans to look for a farm in the outback where he can have kangaroos in the garden.  “The essentials are kangaroo, rainforest and a tan.”  He was quoted as saying.

Robbie had just relocated to the UK after living in the US for seven years. He has been dating his recent girlfriend, Ayda, for 2 years.

One of Australia’s favourite stars is said to be helping Robbie look for a place. Danni Minogue has apparently stepped in and made it her mission to help Robbie settle in down under.

Robbie is also rumoured to be staging a comeback with former Take That singer Gary Barlow, fuelling speculation that the band might reform with Robbie for one last gig together.

Well Robbie, should you need advice on getting an Australian visa, or to want to chat to other Aussiephiles, you can always join our lively embrace community, it only takes a minute!

Immigrants to Australia Blamed for Population Explosion

September 19th, 2009
Population increase - good or bad?

Population increase - good or bad?

Immigrants to Australia and baby boomers are being blamed for a huge rise in the population estimates from 28.5 million in 2049 to an incredible 35 million.

Population critics are arguing that such a population explosion will have detrimental effects on Australia and will be hard to sustain financially. Professor Bob Birrell, from Monash University, criticised the government for not doing enough social planning to cope with the increase in population, saying: “The government doesn’t seem prepared to explore how we need to make social adjustments; rather, they are relying on the prop of bringing in more people of younger ages to essentially put all the older people to bed.�

However Kevin Rudd thinks that the increase signals exciting times for Australia. “I think it’s great that our population is growing, because so many countries around the world are shrinking, and that poses a real problem in terms of having a strong tax base for the future and a strong economy.�

The population levels seem to work for Australia as the country only accepts young, healthy immigrants to Australia who are going to make a positive contribution to the country’s economy. Obviously with young, healthy people you are also going to get more babies, who in turn will help keep Australia’s economy growing as they grow and enter the workplace.

This in turn, helps to provide for Australia’s ageing population. As without more taxpayers, then taxes would have to be raised to help pay for hospital care, pensions, doctor’s consultations and home care.

However the critics claim that such a population boost will also lead to drawbacks, with wildlife habitations under threat from increased urbanisation and the need for food production. Increased population also means an increase in carbon emissions. Labour MP Kelvin Thomson said that trying to cut carbon emissions whilst increasing population was like “trying to fight with both hands tied behind your back.�

Earlier this week the distinguished Australian author Tom Keneally defended the numbers of people immigrating to Australia, saying that the damage to the Australian environment had already been done and that immigrants added to the rich tapestry of Australian culture.

Figures for immigration to Australia are also down this year compared with last and the Australian Bureau of Statistics are recording a slow but steady decline in immigrants to Australia.

Australian Immigrants Face New Citizenship Test

September 18th, 2009
Changes in the Australian citizenship test prove controversial.

Changes in the Australian citizenship test prove controversial.

The Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship are having to defend changes to their controversial Australian citizenship tests today.

The tests, introduced by the previous conservative government, quizzed immigrants on their knowledge of Australia. Now the Department of Immigration and Citizenship want to make it more relevant to today.

The current test questions applicants on their general knowledge of the country, including questions about famous cricketers. The new test will focus on the concepts of the Australian Citizenship Pledge including Australian rights and laws.

The test will also have two parts, a testable and non-testable section. The non-testable section will include information about Australia’s history, culture, sport and famous Aussies such as Dick Smith.

Senator Chris Evans, himself an immigrant to Australia from the UK, stated yesterday: “All prospective citizens should understand those concepts so all of the questions in the new citizenship test focus on the commitments that new citizens make in the pledge.�

“The test is also designed to assess whether applicants have a basic knowledge of the English language and will be conducted in English only.�

The test will take around 45 minutes to complete and the pass mark has been raised from 60% to 75%.

Critics of the tests condemned the changes as a waste of money and claim that they do not help immigrants to Australia integrate into society. Furthermore they believe that the tests discriminate against those migrants from a non-English speaking background.

The new test is expected to replace the old one as early as October. Applicants can find out more information on the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s website.

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