Migrant workers Australia

The return of migrant workers: preparing now for Australia’s post-pandemic priority

Among the ongoing debate and discussion over COVID-19 policies and restrictions around the country, one major issue appears to be gathering the attention it deserves – the critical role skilled migrant workers must play in the future rebuild of Australia’s economy.

It’s not a question of whether Australia wants foreign workers to return in the same numbers. It’s a question of how seriously Australia needs foreign workers to return in the same numbers or even greater. Put simply, the nation cannot afford the alternative.

 

Economic impact of a fall in migration

Let’s dig a little deeper. Realistically, international border closures could remain in place for many months. Australia’s migration program is expected to drop dramatically over the next year. In a recent article in The Australian, political reporter Olivia Caisley states, ”With international border closures expected to be in place for at least another three to four months, the government expects net migration to fall to 36,000 in 2020-21, the lowest number in 40 years.

If migration numbers were to remain at such a reduced level over an extended period, it could significantly and adversely impact our economic ‘bounce back’ potential in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Many economists agree that migrant workers contribute enormously to Australia’s overall economic growth, which in turn leads to a net increase in the new jobs available to local workers as well. In other words, the migration cycle benefits everyone equally.

In the same article, Caisley quotes Deloitte economist Chris Richardson, who recently stated: “Reducing migration numbers would be bad economics”, while “it was wrong to suggest more foreign workers would keep Australians out of work.” She further quotes Richardson’s assertion that, “When our migration rates were highest, we actually had our lowest unemployment rates.” Later in that article, she again quotes Richardson: “The smart response would be to get young skilled migrants coming to Australia to help raise living standards here, as well as those of the new arrivals.

It will therefore be imperative for the nation to reopen its borders to foreign workers, especially in areas of skills shortages such as healthcare and childcare. The ‘skilled’ stream accounts for around 60 per cent of Australia’s permanent migration program. Australia’s “world-leading” response to COVID-19 also makes this country a valuable global asset and puts us firmly on the map of desirable locations for skilled international workers.

 

A proactive approach to future migration

If we assume that Australia’s foreign worker policies will eventually need to return to something resembling a normal, pre-pandemic status, it would be wise for future migration applicants to be waiting at the front of the queue. Being proactive now could make all the difference later. Once the doors open, skilled migration applicants will need to be ready and able to lodge a compliant application. This is especially true given the inevitable competition for places to come. Further exciting opportunities, including the possibility to take skills to one of Australia’s highly liveable regional locations through the new regional visa pathways, could also be worth exploring.

In addition, the future process of economic recovery should also generate other new opportunities to work for an approved sponsor in a nominated occupation. Regardless of a concerning unemployment rate, the reality is that skills shortages continue to exist and certain industries still struggle to find sufficiently qualified and experienced people for particular roles. Our experience has shown that local organisations are, and will be, prepared to sponsor highly skilled foreign workers who match their specific needs.

Therefore, for many highly skilled applicants, outside of skilled migration, finding suitable sponsored employment can also provide a good chance of obtaining a temporary work visa and take a huge step towards their permanent residency.

How should an applicant prepare in advance for when Australia begins to prioritise the return of migrant workers? The first step involves speaking to experienced migration consultants who specialise in helping foreigners live and work in Australia.

Contact MCA to learn more about your visa options

Grandfathering provisions 

Affects 457 visa holders, that have had their occupations taken off the list, or now on the STSOL, or over 45 but under 50.

Grandfathering provisions relating to March 2018 were clarified in the  457-reforms- December 2017 newsletter.

The following Transitional arrangements were put in place in March 2018:

Subclass 457 holders as of 18 April 2017, and anyone having applied before that date but granted thereafter, can apply for the subclass 186 and 187 Temporary Residence Transition Stream (TRT) Stream.

These applicants will be able to apply currently, and after March 2018, even if their occupation is not on the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL), provided that:

  •     they are under 50 years; and
  •     have worked for at least two out of the three years prior to a 186 nomination in the same position, in their occupation, for their employer on a subclass 457 visa.

Applicants will however still be required to meet additional subclass 186 and subclass 187 eligibility criteria in place at that time of application.

NOTE: The above applies, even if their occupation has been removed from the relevant occupation list or their occupation is on the Short-Term Skills List (STSOL)!

Eligible overseas workers will need to lodge their sponsored permanent visa 186/7 application by March 2022.
Access to these transitional arrangements by an overseas worker is not dependent on continuing to hold the same subclass 457 visa or working for the same employer.
The overseas worker can have since been granted subsequent subclass 457/482 visa(s) and been re-nominated by a different employer.

The New Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa

The new TSS visa will replace the subclass 457 visa from March 2018. The TSS visa will have two distinct streams, a Short-Term stream of up to two years and a Medium-Term stream of up to four years.

Eligibility criteria:

  •    occupation lists;
  •    onshore renewals;
  •    minimum English language levels;
  •    market rate min salary not less than the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT);
  •    at least two years’ relevant work experience;
  •    mandatory labour market testing (with exemptions);
  •    mandatory criminal history checks;
  •    a requirement to pay a contribution to the Skilling Australians Fund; and
  •    a non-discriminatory workforce test to ensure employers are not actively discriminating against Australian workers.

How will employers sponsoring skilled workers contribute to training Australian workers?

From March 2018, employers nominating workers for the TSS visa, the subclass 186 or 187 visas, will contribute to the training of Australians through a Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) levy.

The levy will be payable in full at the time the worker is nominated, and will depend on the size of the business.

Please contact us if you wish to discuss any of the above and believe you meet the grandfathering provisions and are eligible to apply for a subclass 186 or 187 visa.

AS A NEW MIGRANT TO AUSTRALIA ARE YOU THINKING OF PURCHASING A HOME?

WHAT ARE THE DO’S AND DON’T’S REGARDING TAKING OUT A MORTGAGE?

Understanding how the various everyday Australian systems work is difficult and settling into a home, especially if you plan to buy, can be a daunting process.

To purchase a home in Australia you must follow quite a structured process and one of the most complicated (and often very stressful) parts of this process can be organising your finance. It important to speak to a mortgage broker that intrinsically understands the unique set of challenges a migrant goes through when setting up a new home.

The right loan amount – how much should I borrow?

‘How much can I borrow?’  Is one question just about every client thinks to ask!

But it’s not the right question. A better one is ‘How much should I borrow?’ And this is where a good broker can be of most help – to ensure you understand the right loan amount for your individual needs.

The risk in choosing the wrong loan amount

It’s a scenario that plays out all too often – people overextending on a purchase with a ‘buy now and worry about the consequences later’ mentality. It causes a great amount of financial pressure and stress; all of it unnecessary.

While banks have measures in place to avoid borrowers overextending, they’re still in the business of making money … by lending it to you!

A suitable home loan is measured by the balance between:

  1. Being able to purchase a property, and
  2. Being able to comfortably meet the repayments

Steps to working out right loan amount

Loaning up to your maximum borrowing power will always be a risk if you are not familiar with your cash flow. To familiarise yourself, pick a 6 to 12 month period and review your cash flow over that time. Then realistically ask yourself these questions:

  • How much do you need to maintain the lifestyle you want?
  • Do you have a safety net of savings (a store of a few months’ worth of loan repayments in case something happens and you can’t make one or two)?
  • Will you have any major life changes in the foreseeable future (ie starting a family, changing careers)?
  • Do you have to significantly change your lifestyle to take on the loan? If so, are you up for making those sacrifices?
  • What would happen if interest rates rose by 1 or 2%?

Over-borrowing causes immense stress. You end up spending more time wondering how you’re going to pay your mortgage each month, than enjoying the beautiful property you’ve worked hard to purchase!

A good mortgage broker is indispensable in helping you determine the right loan amount for you.

Boutique Mortgage Broking business, Professional Partners was established in 2004, by business partners Sean and Craig, both migrants from South Africa, one an accountant the other an actuary. They encountered a number of challenges when adapting to life in Australia and would love to make life a little easier for others.

For an obligation free chat, you can contact them via https://ppartners.com.au/