No fasting before medical examination for Australian visa purposes

Recently I tried to arrange a medical examination for one of my clients. While I try to arrange the timeslot to suit his day off..etc...he told me that he needs to fast after midnight before his blood test. So, he didn't want to get his medical examination done on his working day.

This is the first time I heard of such thing. I understand that people do thier cholesterol level check or their normal regular health check, they need to fast and so on. However, this kind of medical examination is for the Australian migration purposes, the test is mainly for HIV check. There is nothing to do whether or not you need to fast. There is nothing to do with the cholesterol level. Those kind of check is leave for your GP or your family doctor. Not a doctor for migration purposes.

Any doubt, please always check with the registered migration agent or migration lawyer near you.

Visa application fee is way too expensive

Since the department had increased the visa application fee in 1 July 2013 and also another round in 1 September 2013, I personally think that it just way too expensive. Incredible expensive. The visa application fee had been increased in 1 July and I don't understand why there need to be another increase in September, just 2 months apart.

Some of the visa fee has jumped 10 times. For example, Child migrant subclass 455 had jumped from $220 to $2,570. That is about 10 times higher.

Visa application fee for ENS is also now $3,520. Slightly jumps from around $2,950 but the major fee increase if the visa applicant has spouse or partner. The secondary visa application fee is $1,760. Together as a couple, that will become $5,280. This is just big money making machine for Australian government. Everytime when I lodge the application for my clients, I can feel a little pinch in their wallet & bank account. I just hope and pray that fee increase won't happen again next 1 July 2014!!!

Please don't!!

big banner against visa subclass 457 in Melbourne CBD

2 months ago, I went to Melbourne for holiday. It came to my big surprise to see a hug big gigantic banner against visa subclass 457 in Melbourne CBD. I have no idea, which organization behind that banner.

Its message was loud and clear that "they" (whoever put the banner up) prefer to have a job goes to local employees (citizens or residents), which I quite agree with. However, I never thought that this visa subclass 457 has become so political centric. Not at this scale, at least. I have never expected to see those kind of protest banner. At least not in NSW.

Surely lots of changes for visa subclass 457 will soon to come. Always consult the people who knows is my best advice for this visa subclass. Do not take things too lightly on this issue.

visa subclass 457 is getting harder and harder

Well...this is just my own opinion. Compare to 2-3 years ago, the working visa subclass 457 seems to be harder and harder, since 1 July 2013. Now, we have the labour market testing mandatory from 23 November 2013. That will be just add more paperwork into that. Of course, guess that it is for the integrity of the immigration program which I am 100% support the change. It's amount of paperwork and time spend on the case. That is all. Not many people clients or people who plan to lodge the visa subclass 457 by themselves realized that.

Since 1 July 2013, the employer really needs to show that the position is a genuine position. It is not a position that someone in the family just created for his/her family members or close friends..etc... The position need to be justified. The photo of the premises need to be submitted...etc...

Since 1 July 2013, the employer also needs to ensure that the terms & conditions of the employment is not less favour than the local employees (citizens or residents). As there were a few protests this year that local people protested at the mining company that the company employs people from overseas on visa 457 while the local people can't really get a job. Therefore, the government needs to ensures that the terms & conditions of the visa 457 holders are not less favour than local employees. So that, visa 457 holders won't be exploited. Therefore, the full "Contract of Employment" need to be signed and submitted as well. That will be a huge job for someone who are not familiar with the law or not a HR personnel that good with this kind of "Contract of Employment" letter and so forth.

I must admit that since 1 July 2013, the amount of paperwork has been increased tremendously (for me...anyway). Anyone plan to do this on your own, you really need to rethink. I have had a client who came to see me because his employer couldn't get the nomination done and I actually don't like to redo and solve other people mess. I rather prefer a fresh application.

If you or your employer plan to do this on your own, please plan it nicely and start thing a bit early.

Labour Market Testing (LMT) requirement for 457 Company Sponsorship

Effective from 23 November 2013, labour market testing has become mandatory requirement for most sponsoring businesses in a manner consistent to Australia's international trade obligations.

Similar to RSMS visa schemes, sponsoring businesses are now required to provide explanatory evidence of their attempts to recruit suitably qualified and experienced local employees (citizens or residents) to the nominated position. The evidence should include details of role advertising (paid or unpaid), such as copy of the ad, media and date of advertising, job advertisement fees and any explanatory responses received. In addition, the sponsoring business is also obliged to provide full details of any past retrenchments in all occupations, which have occurred during the past four months leading to the nomination. 

457 training brenchmark

Lots of people asked me about the subclass 457 training benchmark. Guess that it's a good chance of writing the blog about this. Particularly, after the 1 July rush.

Training benchmark is the commitment from employers to show that they are good employers, from Australian government's perspective. When we say "good employers from Australian government's perspective", it means that employers need to create job for Australian people, to boost economy and not just give away jobs to foreigners workforce. Training benchmark is just one of the measurements to see how committed the employers are.

Training benchmark is the expenses that the employers had spent for the last 12 months immediate before the visa application lodge, to train or improve the employees skills. So that employees have enough skill to perform their task and hope that with that skills in hand, they would be able to go up the corporate ladder or move up to higher and better position and so forth. Ultimately, the Australian government "want" all these employees to be able to take up whatever position that will be advertised by employers so that employers won't need to employ the foreigners anymore.

One important thing to take note is that only the expenses spent on the training for Australian citizen or Australian permanent resident can be counted toward the training benchmark and it need to be at least 1% of the payroll (for the last 12 months immediate before the lodgement).

The payroll is staff's salary or wages for the last 12 months. For those business that trade under 12 months, I will write in separate blog.

The expenses for the training can be:
- the course fee, seminar fee that employees attend.
- subscription fee to magazine or professional association.
....and the list go on.

Employers or migration agents need to be creative about this. Please consult your registered migration agent about that fees or expenses can be used as part of the training benchmark.

Training benchmark is the mandatory, not a commitment. Australian government is really strict on this. Particularly, after 1 July 2013!!! Do things right, and that will make your life the long run.

No rush this 1 July

As 1 July is approaching. Lots of applicants quickly rush their applications in order to save some application fee and at the same time using the old relislation and so forth. With that, the DIAC system has been overloaded and downed for a long period of time. Create such an unnecessary hectic. My advice is really simple, do not rush. Prepare your application nicely. Slow but sure. Don't simply rush in your application just to save a few dollars. It's not worth it. I rather have all necessary documents ready and submit an "ready application" which will in turn get it done and processed faster.'s just my worth 2 cents anyway.

new changes for working visa subclass 457 is coming soon

As there was a claim about the loophole of visa subclass 457 in the media some of the employers using visa subclass 457 to employ foreigner worker while Australian is looking for job. 

There will be a new reform for visa subclass 457 coming this 1 July.The measures being brought forward include:

  • the introduction of a genuineness criterion under which the department may refuse a nomination if the position does not fit within the scope of the activities of the business

  • an increase in market salary exemption threshold from $180 000 to $250 000 to ensure that higher paid salary workers are not able to be undercut through the employment of overseas labour at a cheaper rate

  • the removal of English language exemptions for certain positions. Many long-term 457 workers go on to apply for permanent residence, and  this change will ensure that the 457 program requirements are brought into line with the permanent Employer Sponsored program which requires a vocational English ability. This change will benefit visa holders by ensuring that 457 visa holders, who have an ongoing position with their employer and want to apply for permanent residence in the long-run are not disadvantaged because of their language ability. Applicants who are nominated with a salary greater than $92 000 will continue to be exempted from the English language requirement

  • enhanced regulatory powers for the department to ensure that the working conditions of sponsored visa holders meet Australian standards and that subclass 457 workers cannot be exploited or used to undercut local workers

  • amendments to existing training benchmark provisions to clarify that an employer’s obligation to train Australians is ongoing and binding for the duration of their approved sponsorship, including for newly established business

  • amendments to clarify that 457 workers may not be on-hired to an unrelated entity unless they are sponsored under a labour agreement

  • amendments which will allow the department to refund a visa application fee in circumstances where an employer nomination has been withdrawn.

Spouse need to be sure about your relationship

It's easy for people to get into a relationship, but it hard to maintain the relationship and still in it. Especially the young couple. There are a lots of people using Spouse Visa as an easy way out to get his/her residency status in Australia....and I just felt that it was wrong to get into a relationship for the wrong reason. Relationship should be all about "love" and "caring", nothing else.

Spouse Visa is really for those who are in relationship for the long term. In fact, it should be a commitment for life. People should not take it lightly. Anyone who still unsure about his or her relationship. Spouse Visa is not really a good option. I really suggest people to navigate to other venue as well. Do not use Spouse Visa is an easy way out. There are many other visa categories available. They might need to consult their lawyer or registered migration agent.

Spouse Visa is a 2 years process. The couple still need to be in the relationship at least 2 years from the date of the lodgement of the application. If the relationship is real and genuine and if they still in relationship during that 2 years. Then it will be a happy ending. The visa applicant will get her PR status, to gain the right to live and stay in Australia indefinitely.

Australia is very dynamic country, we have lots of overseas students come over to study and sometime the romance starts while they attending school. As these young people fall in love in university and then want to stay together after their graduation. They really need to assess their relationship carefully. Most of the time, university student don't have a job. Financially not that stable, compare to those couples who are working in the workforce for long time. Usually, these university students, their relationship is really at an early stage. To jump into a Spouse Visa is big thing. It's a big commitment.

Whatever people choose to do, I am strongly suggest that they think carefully. Sit down together and talk it out before the make any decision. is not that I am discourage or anything. I am just think from mature & adult point of view. At the end of the day, it is all about their choice, but I just don't want anyone get hurt... :)

Interesting experience to share; new passport

I just came back from overseas trip with my family. My wife is an Australia PR and she doesn't want to get an Australian citizenship. She just get her new passport recently and have not link up her PR status into her new passport yet. Ooops....I am registered migration agent and didn't do this for my wife.....LOL. Guess that it would be just fine carrying both old & new passport when travel.

Aha... traveled out from Australia is OK. But once she wanted to checked in with Qantas on the way home. Qantas staff cannot issue her a boarding pass until her PR is linked up to the new passport which Qantas staff can get this done over the check-in counter easily. Just key in her detail electronically and send it to Canberra. Qantas staff advised us that, the waiting period is about 20-30 minutes which we didn't mind at all. We got plenty of time in our hand... :)

Surprisingly, Canberra get back to Qantas staff (either by fax or electronically  I am not sure) within 5 minutes which was quite fast.

The moral of story is "Always" update your new passport detail with the Department of Immigration before you travel, so you won't be stopped at the check-in counter at the airport... :)