Australia has an ever changing and more restrictive immigration landscape that is focused on robust regulatory compliance, according to a migration expert, and the current harder stance is likely to continue.
Looking at the changes introduced in recent years, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) has introduced significant reforms, and with security high on the political agenda this is likely to continue.
A number of Acts were introduced in 2015 and 2016, a pace of reform that has been rapid, far-reaching and unpredictable, and it still ongoing, according to Maria Jockel of BDO Migration Services.
Some of the change has been beneficial and is there to protect people applying for jobs from abroad. It means that it is now unlawful for a person to give or to receive a benefit in return for a migration outcome in relation to certain skilled visa programmes including the popular 457 visa programme that allows an overseas person to work in Australia for up to four years.
Jockel believes it is important to have introduced such change which targets unscrupulous employers or sponsors and others who seek to take advantage of prospective visa applicants.
‘The challenges of mass migration and the focus on maintaining national security, law enforcement and security priorities mean we are dealing with a much more complicated and dynamic political and immigration landscape,’ she said.
‘There is a push/pull dynamic between the two imperatives of the Department, namely: facilitation of temporary and permanent entry and monitoring, enforcement and sanctions,’ she explained.
She pointed out that the figures speak for themselves. The DIBP has almost 15,000 people working in more than 52 locations around the globe and receives over 25,000 visa applications each day worldwide and in 2016/2017.
In the 12 months to the end of June 2016, the DIBP granted 190,000 permanent visas of which 72,840 were skilled migration visas and 7,500 were refugee and humanitarian visas. There were 7.7 million temporary visas, 4.8 million special category visas to New Zealand citizens and 215,000 working holiday visas.
The Migration Amendment (Visa Revalidation and Other Measures) Bill 2016 will result in further change. It is proposed that the Immigration Minister will have the power to require certain people to undergo visa re-validation checks if it was in the public interest.
This could apply to someone with a passport from a specific country regarded as a threat to Australia, some who has travelled through a particular area or applied for a visa during certain dates. The Minister would have the power to refuse to re-validate the visa if there was adverse information relating to the person.
Jockel believes that as Australia continues to grapple with the ongoing demand for temporary and permanent entry the country’s complex laws and policies relating to immigration will continue to be subject to constant and ongoing change.
‘The increasingly restrictive immigration landscape coupled with the significant penalties for breach, herald a new era for Australia and pose challenges for both businesses and individuals. As immigration remains an emotive topic which is at the forefront of both domestic and international politics, the pace of reform will continue to be dynamic,’ she argued.
‘We will continue to experience a much more complicated political and immigration landscape. The Trump presidency, Brexit and a worldwide move to discriminatory and restrictive immigration programmes are now the new norm,’ she added.