Monday, 10 May 2010

Short term message with long term effects

The Minister for Immigration in Australia has announced that most offshore skilled visa applications will not be accepted until further notice. The only offshore skilled visa application that can now be lodged is for the temporary Recognised Graduate visa currently available for approved engineering graduates. This action has taken away the last opportunities for permanent skilled visa applications to be made by overseas candidates wishing to nominate occupations on the current skilled occupation list that may not appear on the new skilled occupation list due to commence some time in the next couple of months - provided the Government keeps to its purported plan. Its failure to release the promised new skilled occupation list on 30 April throws into question the whole timetable and the Government's degree of preparedness. The message relayed internationally by recent measures taken to cease processing most permanent skilled visa applications - and now to refuse offshore applications altogether - may have far reaching effects on future skilled immigration needs. We are cultivating a reputation for unstable migration policy that may take years to turn around and ultimately result in Australia falling way behind in the future global market for the best international talent . It is ironic that the upcoming changes in legislation are purported to attract better educated migrants and yet we risk sending the message that we don't want them - merely to ameliorate some provincial administrative difficulties to 'facilitate the transition'. This is the message that will be sent when an application that has taken a great deal of time to put together is given back. It will be very easy to replace the application form on the front with another application form to be lodged with another Embassy where it will be accepted. How long will it be that professional migration agents remain in a position of only being able to say 'we don't know' to so many reasonable questions to which an answer should be available. Government policy makers should understand that they are working with the community and not against them - both locally and internationally. Better to facilitate relationships in order to achieve smooth working systems than to alienate the community in this way. Amanda Kirkpatrick