The mother of all stuff ups regarding state sponsorship approvals came to light earlier this year and the issue still remains unresolved.
Without informing anyone DIAC imposed a new rule which meant that if the state government didn't notify them by a certain date of all sponsorship approvals for visa applicants then they DIAC decided they were not going to accept them as valid. This has affected hundreds of visa applicants for the old 886 and 487 visas.
Last month DIAC announced it was going to make up it's mind on the policy of this move, whether to change it or keep the new stupid rule as it is. This announcement was meant to occur on the 15th December but then they changed their minds stating they needed more time to think about it. We do not expect any announcement until the end of January.
It has been a year now since DIAC management have been aware of the problem but only publicly admitting it early this year. So why does it take them so long to think about what to do? Clearly this must be one of the best cases of bureaucratic dysfunction academics could study for years to come. The sponsoring states blame DIAC for the mess and then DIAC blames the states for not sending the forms promptly. However what DIAC fails to mention is that there was never a time frame in the past that forms had to be sent promptly by the states.
One day soon we will FOI all the communication DIAC has had with the states and FOI all the communication the states have had with DIAC just to see who has been telling the most porkies.
The New EOI
Honestly we thought the EOI really might mean the End of Immigration as it was commonly phrased earlier this year. We expected the system would be so jammed form dummy EOI's that nobody would be given an invitation.
Well I'm happy to admit that we were wrong. The EOI has worked surprisingly well except for one or two hick-ups. We wondered in June if anyone who lodged an application with the minimum 60 points necessary would actually be invited to lodge a visa application? Nearly all of our clients who lodged with the 60 point pass mark have now been given invitations! This has occurred much faster than we dreamed of much to the delight to those who applied for their EOI's.
15 points for an Australian Masters?
With the new visa classes which began on the 1st July using the online EOI system came the automatic points tally the DIAC system would allocate applicants. We found that just by listing any Australian Masters Degree the system would allocate 15 points automatically. The problem is that DIAC's Procedural Advice Manual (PAM) did not agree and like the PAM's DIAC web site states;
"your Masters degree must be considered as at least comparable to Bachelor level at Australian standards (assessing authorities can provide an opinion on your qualifications)"
As such a number of people who asked for the 15 points being granted for their Australian Masters degree were only given 10 points and then failed in their application. We took DIAC to the Migration Review Tribunal (MRT) on this issue and were successful in arguing that the PAM policy was incorrect and that any Australian Masters Degree would be eligible to 15 points.
The MRT sought legal advice on this issue and decided that we were right, DIAC was incorrect in not allocating the 15 points and our client was successful in having her points reviewed to the pass mark level required. The Senior Member at the Sydney MRT Ms. Susan Pinto wrote in her decision;
"However it appears that the delegate (DIAC) erred in assigning the applicant only 10 points for her educational qualification in Part 6C.7 of Schedule 6C. This is because the applicant also has a Masters Degree in Australia which is equivalent to the award of at least a Bachelor degree by an Australian educational institution. Thus had this qualification been properly assessed the applicant would have been found to have 15 points on this basis of her Australian qualification".
DIAC was to announce a formal policy review on this issue but again has delayed any announcement. In the meantime, there may be a number of Migration Agents or individual applicants who have been rejected on this issue who will find this ruling on the 27th November 2012 helpful. MRT case number 1208793.
The end of the 885, 886 and 487 visas
By the time most of you read this it will be after midnight on the 31st of this December 2012 and the closure of the 885, 886 and 487 visa subclasses has occurred. For us is quite sad.
The 885 and 886 visa classes were the mechanism whereby thousands of our clients over the past 10 years gained their permanent residency status. The 487 visa was a great stepping stone to the 887 PR visa and many will still use the benefit of this visa for a few years to come to gain their PR then from the 887 visa.
We have so many great memories of telling people their visas have been granted that it is sad to see them go. However life moves on and we are now informing many clients the good news using the new visa subclasses as well.
Confusion of Which Occupation to use
There is little doubt DIAC's merry go round of issuing multiple Skilled Occupation Lists had caused a considerable headache this year. Which international students is eligible for which list? Which old ASCO occupations correlate to the new ANZSCO occupations? What a pain in the neck it has been and we are certainly not sorry to see most of these issues now laid to rest with the passing of this year. I'm sure most DIAC case officers will feel the same way.
The Year Ahead for 2013?
Unfortunately for many applicants they can look forward to exorbitant price increases by DIAC. The new increases are;
Partner (Onshore) > $3975 (up from $3060)
Partner (Offshore) > $2680 (up from $2060)
Prospective Marriage > $2680 (up from $2060)
Subclass 457 > $455 (up from $350)
Work and Holiday > $365 (up from $280)
Working Holiday > $365 (up from $280)
GSM 485 > $1250 (up from $315)
When talking to DIAC don't be afraid to remind them how much you are paying them to provide a decent level of customer service. The only justification that can come from a government department which already makes a huge profit from immigration fees, is price gouging. This is a practice where an unfair advantage is used to make a profit from consumers when there is a strong demand for a product. Unfortunately there is no competiton in this business and one has no choice but to pay the increases if you wish to remain in Australia. If there were to be a 30% increase in efficiency or standard of the customer service provided by DIAC, well maybe people could be satisfied in paying more. Unfortunately this is very unlikely to occur.