Sunday the 12th of October 2014
Volume 344

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Sponsors intimidate to keep new migrants in place  
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Do the state/territories have the right to keep you locked up in their region?
 By Tanaya Das

State/Territory Governments
in Australia sponsor Skilled Migrants to live and work in their states in an effort to plug labour gaps. Most migrants are happy to move interstate or to regional areas and in some cases move countries to make Australia home. 

The State Migration Plans specify which occupations state and territory governments can nominate applicants under and specify the number of visas that will be granted as part of this program. However increasingly there are reports of migrants feeling that they are unable to move even if there is a valid reason to. Immigration News spoke to a few Skilled Migrants regarding their experience with State Governments insisting that they stay put even when they haven't been able to find jobs in the state that nominated them.

Lana* spoke to us regarding her experience as a 487 visa holder from the UK who was sponsored by South Australia. Her family and her with three children spent every last penny relocating to Australia for a better life and were correctly advised that they could live anywhere in regional Australia to apply for their permanent visa in two years. However in spite of looking for a job in the state that nominated them Lana's husband was unable to find work and moved after a great job offer was made from an employer in another state.

However when the SA state skilled migration team was informed regarding their move an email was sent to them that caused them tremendous concern. It stated;
"However, as a South Australian state nominated visa holder, as you signed a declaration in the course of your nomination application committing to migrating to and living in South Australia for at least two years, you are expected to live in South Australia for two years from date of arrival.
State Government Nomination is provided to meet skills needs in our State and the expectation is that successful applicants will bring their skills to South Australia. It is on this basis that Nomination approval is granted thereby facilitating visa grant by the Commonwealth Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP). Without this nomination you would not have been granted a visa."

This email made Lana and her family think their visa would be cancelled but a 489 visa conditions are met as long as the family stays in a regional area.

Vishal* an IT professional from India was nominated by Australian Capital Territory for a Permanent Residency visa. With a decade of experience in software testing he moved here with his wife and toddler to begin a new life. However his euphoria was short lived, every single job advertised for his skillset in ACT required an Australian Citizen with a high level security clearance.

Vishal says "I was shocked, there are so many vacancies but I wasn't able to apply for a single one. Every recruiter I spoke to asked me if I was able to relocate to either Sydney or Melbourne for jobs to suit my residency status. My entire move was based on the fact that we would be living in Canberra. I have family friends living in the area who also advised me there was nothing for me in Canberra unless I was a citizen. I am shocked. Why would a state sponsor skilled migrants when they need citizens for high level government work?"

On the ACT website it states;

'A common barrier to gaining employment is a lack of 'local experience'. By undertaking voluntary work or work experience you'll gather local referees as well as developing your skills and experience in the local industry.'

To this Vishal says "So let me get this right, I thought I was here because the local market lacks people with the skillset and experience I have but now I need local experience? Not only that after having almost a decade of experience in multiple continents I need to do volunteer work while my family and I live off our savings? No thank you. The daily pay on temporary contracts for people with my skillset is $600 a day and I am supposed to take up volunteer assignments just so I can live in Canberra? Are they serious?"

It doesn't seem correct that migrants who move to this country to live and work are made to feel they are obliged to live in a state in spite of having no career prospects. When Vishal contacted the ACT Migration Services Team to explain the difficulty he was having in finding employment he felt very threatened afterwards.

"I spoke to the state migration office and they seem to be more intent on scaring people into staying than actually helping. "I understand that the state sponsored us so we would love to live in Canberra but if one tries to talk to talk to someone or even hint at things not being ideal, they seem to give us the idea that our PR will be taken away. Its a scary thought after spending so much of our savings on the application and move I can't afford any unpleasantness."

Vishal says "I worry about my future, I am trying to find something in the state that nominated me but all the jobs are elsewhere. I don't want to start my life in Australia off on the wrong foot but I need to think of my wife and little toddler. It's a horrible weight on my shoulders when I am already stressed about a million other things."


Expand your mind! 
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Looking to expand your knowledge on Immigration matters?

Our Historical Archives might just do the trick.

For example, those who are on the 498/487 visa subclasses should read Volume 276 for here we discussed the obligations of the special visa conditions attached.

There are many other interesting bits and pieces in various volumes as well.

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Australian Immigration Law Services




 When it comes to the 190 visa subclass upon grant there are nil conditions imposed.


In this case nil actually means nil.


Up until the time the visa was granted applicants must have intention in doing their best to abide by the state sponsorship provisions they agreed to.


However after the visa is granted and if an applicant comes to the sponsoring region and find they cannot gain employment, there is no legal obligation to remain in the sponsoring state/territory.


There may also be other factors that have changed  since the visa was granted which means staying in the sponsoring region is not possible. 


Visa holders are certainly not forced to work as kitchen hands or taxi drivers in the sponsoring state, simply to meet the expectations of the governments that sponsored them.




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