Sunday 22 October 2017

Irish people panicked about Australian visa changes told: 'There will still be plenty of opportunities'

Sydney Opera House
Sydney Opera House

Kathy Armstrong

Experts have advised people worried about the scrapping of the Australian 457 visa programme not to panic because there will still be plenty of opportunities.

Irish company VisaFirst.com said they have been flooded with calls from "frantic" Irish people hoping to move to Oz since Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Tuesday he's cancelling the popular programme to "put Australians first."

Mr Turnbull said in a Facebook announcement: "We are an immigration nation, but the fact remains, Australian workers must have priority for Australian jobs.

"We'll no longer allow 457 visas to be passports to jobs that could and should go to Australians. It's lost its credibility."

The scheme allowed skilled workers to live and work in Australia with their partner and children for up to four years if they got sponsorship.

VisaFirst.com pointed out that it's set to be replaced with the the Temporary Skill Shortage, another two to four year programme and there are still hundreds of skilled workers who can apply, such as nurses, electricians and mechanics.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Edwina Shanahan, Managing Director at www.visafirst.com, said: "Yesterday’s announcement took a lot of people by surprise. But we are urging people not to panic.".

"Changes to the skills and occupations list for each state are made periodically – this is not a new step. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection  have closed classes and opened new classes with new requirements before," she said.

"Anyone who is currently travelling on a 457 visa and/ or who has recently be granted one for future travel will not be affected."

"Thousands of Irish workers will still be able to travel to Australia to work – as long as their occupation or profession is on the skills shortage list of which there are over 400 – the most frequently applied for occupations actually still remain on this list," she added.

Despite the changes, eligible Irish applicants can still take part in the Australian Working Holiday programme.

She also spoke about the professions that have been cut from the scheme, predicting only a small decline in the numbers of Irish emigrating to Oz.

"While the numbers might fall slightly, we don’t expect to see a huge drop in the numbers of Irish going to Down Under over the next few years as a result of these changes," she said.

"This is simply a reform of the sponsorship programme – it is not closing. The goal is that the people who secure sponsorship align with the skills need of the Australian workforce.

The Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) in Brisbane (Australia) joins Tourism Ireland’s Global Greening initiative, to celebrate the island of Ireland and St Patrick.
The Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) in Brisbane (Australia) joins Tourism Ireland’s Global Greening initiative, to celebrate the island of Ireland and St Patrick.

"We’ve looked at the changes to the skills list and we can see that professions such as singers & goat farmers are no longer eligible. This move is not surprising.

"There’s a long list of occupations in this category – many of which we’ve never received an application from an Irish worker in that field – for example actor, prison officer etc.

"There are however some not uncommon occupations that have been removed from the list – including things like biochemists, HR advisers, microbiologists and web developers."

Depending on your occupation, there will be two visa streams:

1.       Short-Term stream of up to two years – this will have the option for only one onshore visa renewal

The actor was killed in Brisbane while filming a music video for an Australian band
The actor was killed in Brisbane while filming a music video for an Australian band

2.       Medium-Term stream of up to four years - renewal onshore and a permanent residence pathway after three years - previously you only had to demonstrate 2 years with employer on 457 and you could apply for PR

The reforms have started already and are due to be completed by next March.

For more information see here.

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