Immigration by region: Australia and New Zealand

This is the fourth of a new series of short articles by Peregrine Immigration Management, looking at immigration trends and processes by region. Here, they head Down Under.

This is the fourth of a new series of short articles by Peregrine Immigration Management, looking at immigration trends and processes by region. Here, they head Down Under.Last month&#x;s piece looked at aspects of immigration into the Middle East; this month we turn our attention to two destinations in the Southern Hemisphere: Australia and New Zealand.AustraliaAustralia is, by many measures, one of the best places in the world to live, with a strong economy, growing job market, great healthcare and a high standard of living. It is also one of the most popular destinations globally for workers seeking both temporary employment and permanent residence.The Australian immigration system is much admired and emulated globally for its use of points tests and skills shortage lists to pinpoint the best candidates for skilled temporary and permanent immigration.The Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) administers programs for migration and temporary entry, the majority of which are skills based, with the aim of encouraging highly skilled individuals to fill specific skill shortages in Australia.Points-based migrationPoints-based skilled migration visa applications are available to candidates who have been nominated by a State or a Territory, or invited to apply independently. They must have lodged an Expression of Interest (EOI) using the SkillSelect online service, scored the required number of points based on qualifying criteria such as age, education, work experience and English language ability, and have an occupation on the relevant skilled occupation list.Employer Nomination Scheme & 457 VisaThe Employer Nomination Scheme does not require a points test, and is available to employer-nominated candidates with or without a Temporary Work (Skilled) (Subclass 457) Visa, who may or may not have registered an EOI on the SkillSelect system.The subclass 457 visa is the most common route for employers wishing to sponsor overseas skilled workers on a temporary basis. It allows approved sponsor businesses to nominate overseas workers with relevant shortage skills to work for up to four years in Australia with a multiple-entry visa, bringing their families with them.The 457 program is uncapped and very popular, with currently over 108,000 holders of the visa, representing an increase of more than 20 per cent just in the 12 months to April 2013. However, the popularity of the 457 visa program has become something of a political hot potato recently, and ministers have responded by tightening up requirements and dramatically increasing fees, as well as penalties for non compliance.Recent changesApproved sponsoring employers must now submit evidence that their on going local training efforts are satisfactory, that the salary offered matches local and industry market rates and (from later this year) that they have made efforts to find a qualified Australian worker for the position within six months before the lodging of the nomination application.Fees for 457 visa nominations and applications have risen sharply, with new fees for dependent applications and the English language requirement has been extended to almost all applicants.New ZealandNew Zealand is a small country of only four million people in the Pacific, to the southeast of Australia. Its Immigration system is strikingly similar to that of its larger neighbour.Permanent residenceThe right to live and work permanently in New Zealand may be obtained via the Skilled Migrant Category or through Work to Residence. A candidate who has submitted an Expression of Interest, meets all the basic requirements and scores high enough in a qualifying points test may be invited to apply for permanent residence. Bonus points may be given if the candidate&#x;s occupation is on the Long Term Skill Shortage List.An applicant who is deemed to have potential may be granted a Work to Residence visa for up to 9 months to demonstrate their ability to settle.Similarly, a candidate with a job offer or an exceptional talent may apply directly, outside the Skilled Migrant Category, for a Work to Residence visa for up to 2 years with a view to permanent residence.Temporary workThere are also several categories of temporary work visa.If an applicant has a job offer from a New Zealand employer and their occupation is on one of the Essential Skills in Demand Lists, they may qualify for a Temporary Work Visa (Essential Skills).If an overseas employer wishes to send an employee on short-term assignment to New Zealand, they may qualify for a Temporary Work Visa (Specific Purpose or Event).In summary, the strengths of the Australian immigration system are recognised worldwide, but its success has caused internal political friction which is now leading to more rigorous requirements and enforcement. New Zealand has taken much from Australia&#x;s system, and is still keen to encourage skilled migration.