Sabotage by its very nature is a secret act, one does not find out it has occurred until after the event. DIAC has recently ruled some state sponsorships as invalid because they did not receive the sponsoring nominations by a certain date, that being when the new SMP's began click here.
We have discovered that DIAC had covertly decided on this action back in 2010 but failed to notify the applicants or the public. Hence many of these 487 had no idea their applications were about to be rejected and have been waiting patiently for a case officer and then expecting the visa to be granted. DIAC's sabotage has destroyed many applicants' efforts, money, time and achievements. The years of studying in Australia, gaining skill assessments, reaching IELTS levels, and then waiting years for processing will be worthless.
We are not talking about all 487 applicants, but a large number who lodged their visa applications before the 1st July 2010 (and some later before the SMP's came into force for each state). DIAC has declined to give the total figure how many state sponsorships are being ruled invalid but it could be hundreds.
Back in 2009 and early 2010 there were a number of State government agencies that sponsored applicants under the 886 and 487 visa streams before the new State Migration Plans (SMP) were introduced from July 2010. Quite a number of those sponsored applicants were Cooks, Hairdressers and Welfare Workers using the old skilled occupation list. It was an exciting time for students back then with many opportunities offered by the regions and sponsorship was not as difficult to obtain as it is today.
During this busy heyday there must have been thousands of approval letters flying out to former international students who had recently completed their two years of study in Australia. Many of these sponsored applicants lodged and obtained their 487 visas in smart succession however when the Global Financial Crisis arrived on the scene and the Minister issued its Priority Processing directorate, the big freeze on visa grants began.
Currently DIAC is sending out letters to perhaps hundreds of applicants notifying them they no longer have valid state sponsorships. Some have already been rejected and have had to place appeals to the MRT.
Playing the Blame Game
Some regions are playing the blame game and laying it directly on DIAC's shoulders but it is plain to see they offer no assistance either. DIAC blames the states and says it is their power to offer off-list nominations under the current SMP program.
The NSW sponsoring bodies are placing this notice on their web sites;
Notice to Skilled Regional Sponsored 487 Visa Applicants
The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) Adelaide Skills Processing Centre (ASPC) has advised that it will not recognise offers of sponsorship by State/Territory Governments or their delegates where the "nomination" does not occur promptly after the offer of sponsorship. DIAC ASPC defines the "nomination" to be the submission of DIAC Form 1100 by the State/Territory Government agency or their delegate to ASPC......
The decision not to recognise the offer of sponsorship made to these visa applicants has been made by DIAC. RDA Southern Inland and NSW Trade & Investment have objected to DIAC ASPC about this procedure but they have not changed their position. There is nothing further that RDA Southern Inland can do to assist applicants in this situation...."
You can download the PDF file here and you can also find it on their web site click here.
Our office raised this issue and lodged a formal complaint with DIAC through the ASPC Director of Processing. We received this reply;
"With the commencement of State Migration Plans (SMP), participating States and Territories agreed that any nominations provided to DIAC after the commencement of an SMP would be made under their current SMP."...
"DIAC has also been in communication with relevant sponsoring authorities to remind them of the requirements in terms of nominations and their options in terms of applicants who they had agreed to sponsor prior to the commencement of an SMP but had not done so. These being seek to include the relevant occupations in their current SMP or use off list places."
Clearly DIAC wants the states to solve this problem but the states have thrown it back in their faces blaming DIAC for the mess.
Clearly the statement issued by the regional bodies in NSW is phrased in a way to imply that they have only recently become aware of DIAC's plans to invalidate state sponsorship approvals. DIAC's letter declines to mention at what time talks had been entered into with the states. We asked DIAC to supply the date when talks began with the states but to date this has not been provided.
However what we can be sure about is that DIAC secretly communicated with the states and came to a processing decision that was held from public knowledge. They decided if the particular sponsoring agency did not send the DIAC Form 1100 before an SMP began, they would deem the sponsorship as invalid unless the occupation was on the new State Migration Plans (SMP).
The New SOL and SMP's?
You see when the new Skilled Occupation List was developed and implemented on the 1st July 2010; it no longer included nearly 300 occupations. All the Cooks, Hairdresser's and Welfare Workers that had dominated the total number of GSM applications were no longer on the new SOL but could be chosen under the SMP of each state or regional bodies. Unfortunately most of the new SMP programs did not include these three occupations amongst others. To read more about SMP's click here
DIAC was well aware of thousands of applications lodged prior to the beginning of the SMP's the 487 and 886 visa streams, contained those nominated occupations no longer on the SMP's. They were also well aware that perhaps hundreds of these applications would not have had the Form 1100 sent by the sponsoring agencies before the SMP's began.
The reason we know this is by experience. In applying for hundreds of these sponsored applications we are well aware that the states often do not promptly send of the required Form 1100 to DIAC after we send the applicants TRN file numbers to them. DIAC would have been well aware of this fact also. However in the past that never really mattered for case officers were happy to receive the Form 1100 when they processed the file. However DIAC's decision changed all of that.
The Murray Regional Development Board (MRBD) example
In our experience the MRBD was one of the most active of all the regional sponsoring agencies in sending out sponsorship approvals because they had the popular Cook, hairdresser and Welfare Worker on their lists before the SMP began. They were easy to obtain, just fill out the form, have the skill assessment and bang, back came the approval letter.
Recently one applicant told us of a long queue of angry and disheartened former students had formed at the MRBD office in Aulbury NSW. They had recently discovered that their sponsorship nominations have been ruled as invalid and were there to complain.
The MRBD informed him that it was DIAC's fault for they did not tell the MRBD about a cutoff date. He had obtained sponsorship approval by the MRBD as a Welfare Worker back in 2009 but has since learnt his nomination has been ruled as invalid by DIAC. The reason? The MRBD in this case acknowledged that they failed to send of his Form 1100 to DIAC even though they received his DIAC case TRN details back in 2009.
His case is not the only one we have come across and we are not publishing affected applicant's names for they are too scared they will be victimized by the MRBD and DIAC. You can hardly blame them after the way they have been treated already.
IMMIGRATION NEWS invited the Executive Manager, Ms. Barbara Hull of the MRBD by fax and email to make a comment on the following questions;
"Was your office aware as DIAC has claimed, that when the SMP began on the 1st July 2010 DIAC would regard any nominated occupation not on the new SMP as an invalid nomination?
If the answer is yes what steps did the MRDB take to contact those approved to be sponsored by the MRBD to make them aware the Form 1100 had to be sent to DIAC by the 1st July 2010?
In the case example above, why even after admitting responsibility for not sending Form 1100 to DIAC before the 1st July 2010 your office failed to provide assistance and offer an off-list nomination approval?
Have there been any other instances that your office did not provide the Form 1100 to DIAC before the 1st July even when your office had been notified of the applicants file details?"
The MRBD failed to supply any response.
Strangely in the afternoon of the same day we sent the fax to the MRBD we received a further follow up email from DIAC
"After consulting with GSM policy colleagues I have been asked to advise you that they are currently considering the matters raised by you with a view to looking at whether such nominations can be considered within the existing scope of off-list arrangements with State and Territory agencies. This will involve further consultation with State and Territory representatives which we will be undertaken in the next couple of weeks. We will subsequently provide via the agents gateway any further policy guidance arising from the outcome of the consultations."
Did the MRBD shoot our fax off to DIAC? Most likely we will never know.
Does the Form 1100 have to be received by a certain date?
The simple answer is no.
According to the DIAC Procedural Advice Manual (PAM) there had never been any requirement for a Form 1100 to be sent to DIAC by any particular time. Remember the Form 1100 can only be sent by the sponsoring authorities, not the applicant or the applicant's agent.
In the letters issued by the sponsoring bodies notifying applicants of their approvals, it makes no mention of any time frame an applicant must send their TRN numbers to the regional bodies. As mentioned earlier applicants lodged their applications, in some cases, more than twelve months after receiving their nomination approval letters because there was no expiry date on the nominations. You can read the standard type of letter received from the MRBD by clicking here.
In theory when a sponsoring body received the applicants TRN they in turn send the Form 1100 to DIAC. However they too were under no obligation to send Form 1100 to DIAC by any specified time frame unless they aware of a DIAC invented cutoff date.
Our office knows this too well after lodging thousands of GSM file over the years. In many cases, we would receive an email from a case officer for an 886 or 487 file. The case officer would request us to contact the sponsoring authority to ask them to send out the Form 1100 because they have not received it. In these cases it was always the applicants or agents job to contact the authority to get them to send out the Form. After we made the request the sponsoring body would send off the form. There may have been many reasons why they had not done so but in the end it didn't really matter as long as it was sent eventually.
Of course nobody had any idea that DIAC had changed their own internal rules in relation to this procedure without telling the applicants or their agents (if they had one).
Jim lodged his 487 application on the 29th June 2010. He used his occupation as a Cook and the positive state sponsorship letter he received. The next day he sent his TRN details by email to sponsoring authority. As far as he was concerned he had done all he could do in a prompt efficient manner and he had met all the requirements of the visa. However little did he realize that the sponsoring body did not have the resources to immediately send Form 1100 to DIAC before the 1st July 2010, the day the new SMP began.
Jim had no idea that this really mattered anyway as he had not received any information from DIAC or the sponsoring agency that this requirement was essential to be completed before the 1st July 2010. He received a letter informing his sponsorship was invalid last week. If Jim had at least even been told earlier perhaps he could have found another sponsor but it is too late now for all the sponsors for his occupation require at least a year of work experience in their state and a higher IELTS score than he has. Jim now faces the impossible prospect of finding a regional body that includes Cook on their SMP otherwise his visa will be rejected.
The solution is simple
There are two possible solutions and both of them are easy.
1) DIAC just accepts all Form 1100's provided by the sponsoring bodies regardless of the date of receipt, or
2) The sponsoring bodies provide a new Form 1100 to DIAC under the provision of an Off-List Nomination which available for any occupation on the SMP SOL. This of course includes, Cook, Hairdresser and Welfare Worker
Who is suffering?
Remember it is the former international students who are suffering because of these governments departments bickering.
All of these applicants have spent years in Australia having invested a huge amount of their time and money even before they were in a position to lodge their visa applications. They all had to meet the Australian Study requirement of two years of full time course in Australia, invested in their EILTS exams to be sure they reached their required levels (sometimes multiple exams) and discussed the issue of remaining in Australia with their families before placed their lives on hold waiting patiently for a positive response in their applications.
For many former international students this whole process would now have absorbed at least 5 years of their lives.
Sadly now DIAC has already rejected many of these applicants have already been rejected and lodged appeals to the Migration Review Tribunal (MRT). DIAC has sent out letters threatening that many more are facing the same fate. An example of one of these letters can be viewed here.
Although we have asked, DIAC will not release the figures of how many applicants are affected but we can say from experience in counseling a number of the affected and the realistic small proportion that we would see, the number will be in the hundreds.
It is a sad story and one that is completely unnecessary to report on. Let's hope that some resolution can be found. But even if one is found, what about those who have already been rejected?
Stay tuned for more information on this sorry saga.