A possie in Aussie

November 19, 2009

Do you know someone experiencing visa difficulties right now?

Filed under: Foreign Students,migration,PR,visas — Nayano @ 12:15 pm
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I am at the International Conference on Migration, Citizenship and Intercultural Relations in Melbourne at the moment.

Just heard a great lecture from Stephen Castles – much to think about! Castles predicts that by 2050 the birth rate will have decreased in the Global South to the level of that now in the Global North.

Castles asked the audience a  question I have heard asked once or twice before – but it is still a good one: ‘raise  your hand if you were born in Australia’.

Answer for this audience – about one quarter.

My mind wandered (as it usually does, even in a lecture as good as Castles’) and I thought of a question I would like to ask Australian audiences:

‘How many of you have a friend or relative experiencing visa difficulties right now?’

My answer: 2 close relatives, one very close friend, and many other friends.

How about you?

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November 14, 2009

Temporary protection: Not a safe haven for Sharman Stone!

Filed under: asylum,asylum seeker,boat people,visas — Nayano @ 2:39 pm
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I was so taken with Sharman Stone’s crazy ‘logic’ that I almost forgot the sick feeling I had when she began to speak yesterday about reinstating the temporary protection visa.

Ms Stone became strident under Steve Price’s straight questioning on the ABC:

That’s what I’m saying. You will not qualify for welfare!

Steve Price: Yes so that means you don’t, that means you won’t qualify for welfare benefits, you won’t qualify for the dole and you won’t qualify for government housing. Is that what you’re saying?

Sharman Stone: You will not qualify for welfare. If you are not able to work, and some may not, of course, due to ill health or age or whatever, then there would be a government allowance to make sure, of course, that you don’t starve.

You can only laugh. It was so ridiculous that even Andrew Bolt had to speak out:

“So there won’t be welfare, but there will. And, really, does Stone really believe we’d stand by and let even asylum seekers here – including the able bodied – go without a cent to feed themselves or their children? To be forced, if they can’t find work, to live instead by begging or stealing?

She’s insulting our intelligence. And our humanity.

There are ways to be tough, but this is not one of them.” This isn’t tough, but stupid

October 9, 2009

Backpackers: yet another category of exploited migrants

Are backpackers marginalised migrants?

I stretching things too far?

In 2007-08 the number of working holiday-makers young people increased by nearly 14.5% from 2006–07 to 2007–08 (DIAC). The report for 2008-09 will be released at the end of this month. Despite the global economic crisis, it is expected that the number of young people entering Australia on Working Holiday Visas will remain strong. More Young People Applying for Australian Working Holiday Visas

The “417 working visa” enables them to remain for 12 months and to work and earn money to augment the funds they bring with them.  If they wish to stay longer, a second 12-month visa may be granted, but only if the applicant has worked for three months in primary industry.

The second visa can lead to the holy grail of permanent residency in Australia. (While most backpackers are from the UK, Koreans come a close second.)

Mike Pope of Online Opinion claims that there are arrangements between farmers and hostel operators that take advantage of the conditions which apply to the working visa under which most backpackers come to Australia. Backpacker exploitation?

The problem is that there are more backpackers than regional primary industry jobs available.

Mike says that backpacker hostels make “arrangements with local farmers to be the sole supplier of labour to their farm. Backpackers are rarely able to secure employment from other sources since hostels tend to corner the market. They must therefore stay at a hostel to gain employment.

“Those using this as a strategy to attract backpackers to stay at their hostel are able to price the accommodation they offer more highly than they otherwise might do. They can and often do sleep six or more backpackers to a room and charge them as much as $20 each per night for the privilege.

Mike claims that it is not only hostels which take advantage of backpackers in this way. Some farmers hire hostel-provided workers under absolute minimum conditions.

“Fruit and vegetable picking is often undertaken in hot conditions in relatively remote open fields. The farmer may provide a shade area, toilet facilities and drinking water. Many do not. Any complaint can be (and is) met with an invitation to find work elsewhere.” (See Union asks for ban on foreign students in trade jobs)

I’ll tell you the moral of this story: the dream of permanent residency combined with  a lack of rights opens the way for exploitation.

Yes, backpackers are marginalised migrants.

September 26, 2009

Nearly 1,500 boat people: should we worry?

Filed under: asylum,asylum seeker,boat people,refugee,visas — Nayano @ 8:41 am
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Before we start worrying about the numbers of asylum seekers arriving by boat this year in Australia (nearly 1,500), let’s have a look at all the numbers.

The asylum seekers processed on Christmas Island who are found to have genuine claims to refugee status (and that seems to be nearly 100% so far) will be given visas in the Humanitarian category.

The numbers of visas in this category have hardly changed in the decades since the upper limit was legislated. The upper limit for 2008-09 was 13,500.

This is only 4% of the total migration of people hoping to make a home in Australia.

The numbers for 2007-08 were

Humanitarian (refugees) 13,014

Skilled 108 540

Family (Family reunion) 49 870

New Zealand settlers 34 491

Special (distinguished talent) 220

Skilled Long Stay Temporary Business visas 110,570 (although these are ‘temporary’ many workers take these visas as a pathway to permanency).

That’s a total of 316,705 people.

Let’s keep it in perspective.

Numbers from Permanent Migration to Australia – An Overview by Eligibility Category and

Temporary Migrants in Australia

July 18, 2009

How to make a corrupt immigration system

“If you wanted to make a corrupt system, this is absolutely how you would do it”  –

Managing Director of Australian Immigration Law Services, Karl Konrad, quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald this week about the foreign student situation in Australia.

Mr Konrad, who has a reputation as a whistle blower, said colleges and employers had a dangerous amount of power over their students, who faced deportation if their enrolment was cancelled. Foreign students exploited as slaves

Immigration analyst, Bob Kinnaird, said the previous government was deliberately  “selling an education industry in the guise of a migration policy” when they changed the rules for overseas students from 2001 onwards.

The Sydney Morning Herald provides this chart of how the rules changed to allow the current highly-profitable and exploitative system:

HOW THE RULES CHANGED

– 1992 Private providers allowed to offer training courses.

– 2001 Graduating overseas students allowed to apply for residency without returning home.

– 2005 Trades students required to complete 900 hours of work experience. Many begin to work unpaid; some even pay for their positions. Some training organisations open businesses staffed by their own students.

– 2008 New regulation foreshadowed stipulating work experience must be paid and kept at arm’s length from the trainer. The regulation was never introduced.

– 2009 Priority given to applicants who are sponsored by Australian employers or state governments. Second priority given to those whose skills are listed on a critical skills list, but students of trades such as hairdressing and cooking can obtain an employer-sponsored permanent visa. the demand for placements outstrips the supply

July 14, 2009

Study in Australia: “a recognised immigration racket”

WA Today features a story about rackets in India where people are paying up to $20,000 for a good result in the International English Language Test System exam (IELTS), ‘contract’ marriages and pay agents to arrange bank documents and loans to satisfy Australian immigration law that demands students have the means to support themselves for the duration of their course.

WA Today says that the “international education sector has turned into a recognised immigration racket”. Australia’s overseas education ‘a scam’

There are 500,000 international students living in Australia generating $14-billion for the economy. Universities on average rely on international students for 15 per cent of their revenue.

Hamish McDonald described the ‘study for PR’ racket perfectly a couple of weeks ago in The racket no one dares name.

“In this racket, tens of thousands of mostly Asian families put up the $30,000 to $50,000 to send young Amit or Mukesh down to Sydney or Melbourne for a course in cooking, basic computer skills (which he probably already has) or other trades designated by Canberra as areas of supply shortages in the economy. After putting in the right number of classroom and practical hours, and keeping out of trouble with police and other authorities, the students can apply for bridging visas and then permanent residency”.

I am personally aware of young people studying courses in which they have no interest or ambition, in order to gain the prize: ‘PR” (permanent residency). Shonky Australian training courses lead to PR, bashings and death

May 13, 2009

Budget ’09: Only independent skilled get the cut

Immigration in the Budget

  • The independent skilled migration program will be reduced to a total to 108,100 places.
  • The employer-sponsored and government-sponsored visa programs will remain uncapped
  • The Critical Skills List will remain as a guideline for assessing independent applications for Australian skilled migration.
  • Skilled trade occupation applicants who do not have a sponsor will need to score at least a 6 in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) (out of a possible high score of 9) instead of the previous level of 5
  • As already planned, the humanitarian program will be increased by 250 places to 13,750 people in 2009-10 and the special humanitarian program will be lifted by 750 to a total of 7750 places.
  • More than $75 million to improve detention administration and policy procedures includes greater access to welfare support, legal advice and health services for people held in detention
  • More than $650 million for an extra surveillance vessel and two aircraft

March 17, 2009

Migrant workers: Battle of the words, but first world wins again

The Australian Government has announced that it is cutting its intake of permanent skilled migration visas for the 2008-09 financial year by 14 per cent, down from 133,500 to 115,000.  Immigration Minister Chris Evans says the cuts were made to reflect economic climate.

This has brought a slew of views from across the nation:

Professor of economics at the University of  Canberra Phil Lewis says

“These policies are very popular largely because it’s very appealing to say when unemployment goes up why would you bring foreigners in. But migrants actually create jobs, they need houses and the retail sector receives a boom because migrants tend to spend more. Migration should be seen as a long-term policy to encourage economic growth and protect further skills shortages.” Cutting migration could cost jobs

Wilhelm Harnisch of the Master Builders Association says the cuts are warranted because unemployment in the building sector is rising.

National secretary of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union John Sutton says the need for migrants on “457 visas” in construction, forestry, mining and energy has dried up

The national secretary of the Australian Workers Union, Paul Howes, while stopping short of calling for a complete halt in 457s visas, say temporary migration numbers have to be cut severely.

But Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s chief executive Peter Anderson predicts trade skill shortages.

“You don’t want migration policy to move in high peaks and low troughs, because that does create dislocations through the economy” he said. The Australian Industry Group, which represents 10,000 employers, agreed.

Business Council of Australia deputy chief executive Melinda Cilento defends temporary migration programs, saying 457 was a good scheme that moved with market demand.

Mark Wooden from the Melbourne Institute says  research had shown that migration could create jobs, as people who moved to Australia stimulated the economy through spending on retail goods, among other things, and that cutting the legitimate visa program would develop a “protectionist” mentality in Australia. Unions urge more cuts in skilled migrants

Sarah Hanson-Young of the Greens warns of a possibility that the humanitarian intake might be next to be cut Humanitarian intake must not be sacrificed as skilled migration cut

Andrew Bartlett reminds us that

“The migrants have often explicitly been told it would provide a potential pathway to permanent residence, as the subclass 457 visa scheme was sometimes specifically promoted in that way to potential migrants.”

Push to sack migrant workers

Also have a look at No natural justice for Chinese 457 workers in Australia

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