visas

Call for more visas for Pacific region citizens to live and work in Australia

by Ray Clancy on January 17, 2017

in Immigration Documentation

Visa opportunities for people living in the Pacific region wanting to work in Australia should be expanded, possibly at the expense of backpackers and those from other world regions, a new report suggests.

While Australia should be proud of its immigration history, more needs to be done to encourage, attract and help those from neighbouring countries, says the report from the Migration Council.

Foreign Workers DuskHenry Sherrell, acting chief executive officer of the Migration Council Australia, argues in favour of boosting migration opportunities from the Pacific to Australia. She pointed out that residency visas granted to citizens from the Pacific amount to less than 0.5% of all visas granted.

‘Skilled, family and humanitarian migration contribute to Australian society and help support the economy. However more can be done with our migration policies to better help our Pacific neighbours,’ she said.

‘Migration opportunities from the Pacific to Australia can be a triple win: for the migrants themselves, for their home countries and for all Australians. Pacific citizens can earn between four to ten times more income in Australian industries like the horticultural sector than in their home countries,’ she added.

She called for policy makes to consider major change to be generated through looking at more innovative ideas, such as working out how to improve the seasonal worker visa programme and concentrating less on holidaymakers and backpackers.

‘Creating new visa pathways and bringing down the cost of remittances can each assist as complements in fostering economic development in the Pacific,’ Sherrell said.

The report outlines potential new visa pathways including a permanent visa lottery for Pacific citizens, similar to those that already exist in New Zealand and the United States and improving youth mobility between Pacific countries and Australia.

‘For the past 25 years, Australia has increasingly looked to skilled workers to orient our migration framework. This has paid dividends. Yet in the process, we have overlooked those in our backyard,’ the report says.

‘ By expanding and opening up the possible immigration routes to Australia, economic development can be furthered in Pacific countries, migrants themselves can be nurtured while Australia also stands to benefit,’ it adds.

‘Addressing demand barriers and expanding the seasonal worker programme, creating new visa pathways to Australia and aiming to bring down the cost of remittances will each play a small but important role in fostering a triple win outcome,’ it concludes.

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