Ever Changing Migration Policies- How Fair is it? - Vision Overseas Group

Before I start writing my first blog- ‘I respect and honour Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders past, present and future. I acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on this land and commit to building a brighter future together”.

In 2005, I moved to Australia for the first time as a student. Since then, I’ve been fascinated by the migration methods that each country employs to recruit migrants who meet their needs. From time to time, new rules and processes are implemented in order to attract the finest skilled migrants the country needs at the time.

I am a registered migration agent practicing since 2010. This is my first blog, in which I started to convey my thoughts on Australia’s ever-changing and diversified migration sector.

Australian migration regulations are constantly shifting and have changed dramatically in recent years. According to my knowledge, the following are the key core causes behind these changes:

1)    Addressing current migration to overcome skill shortage.

2)    Attract tourism

3)    Addressing a pandemic situation

4)    Promoting Australian education system

5)    Boost the economy

When migration rules change, it affects migrants in both positive and negative ways. On one hand, it opens doors for many, but it also shatters the aspirations of millions. I accept that every country changes its migration rules for the better, yet one question keeps coming up in my mind: “What about the deserving candidates who may be adversely impacted by the change?”

As a migration agent, I’ve seen people suffer greatly as a result of transition. It might be very emotional for us at times. Despite our best efforts to operate in our clients’ best interests, it is sometimes impossible to assist them despite their meritorious status. We must consider how well-balanced these changes in migration policies are for a deserving candidate. When a new policy or regulation is introduced in a short period of time, I’ve seen many skilled candidates become ineligible. ‘How fair is this change for deserving candidates?’ we must question. Seeing hopes broken becomes extremely emotional and sad.

Australia is a multicultural nation. One out of every four Australians is a foreign national who speaks their own language. What I’ve noticed recently is that the focus of Australian migration has switched away from permanent visas and more towards temporary visas. As a result, fewer people migrate each year, resulting in a skilled labour shortage. Current migration policies are lacking in overall balance. This needs to change, or Australia will lose its appeal as a destination for qualified workers.

When lockdown was enacted in March 2020, many temporary visa holders who went overseas to see their relatives were stuck there during the pandemic. Since then, migration regulations have altered frequently in order to assist those who are stranded abroad until their position improves. On the other hand, some temporary visa holders are still waiting for relief because current migration restrictions do not provide any leniency for them at this time:

a) Subclass 485 holders – People who were travelling on a subclass 485 visa at the time of their trip and were stuck overseas are affected. Their visas have not been suspended. Some people’s 485 visas have already expired, and many more will soon.

b) Graduate work stream applicants: This is the one stream of Subclass 485. One of the mandatory criteria for this stream is that the applicant must have completed 360 hours of experience in their nominated occupation with an Australian employer. Many of those who were stranded overseas were nearing the end of their adventure or were ready to begin their journey back to Australia. These folks are severely harmed since they are stranded abroad and unable to meet this legal obligation. We had personally written to the assessing authorities, expressing our concern with the situation. I asked whether they would accept offshore 360-hour work experience to meet this criteria, but they declined. Isn’t that just unfair?

As I previously stated, there should be a sense of balance in our migration system, which is now lacking. When crafting new migration laws or enacting reform, the government must also consider applicants holding any present Australian visas who may be adversely impacted and give some form of assistance for them.