Jobs list will dash hopes of residency
By Guy Healy
The Australian, March 10, 2010
The migration hopes of hundreds of thousands of overseas students will be dashed if a draft list of migration-preferred occupations is adopted, immigration agent Karl Konrad warned yesterday.
'Many students will panic when they see this draft list,' said Mr Konrad, managing director of Australian Immigration Law Services.
'Immigration should release the real Skilled Occupation List as soon as possible.'
Up to 80 per cent of overseas students in universities, TAFE institutes and private colleges sought residency, and would gravitate to courses leading to migration, Mr Konrad said.
'Once they learn their course won't lead to a residency pathway they will quickly look to change schools or programs to get the outcome they are looking for,' he said.
The list represents the first stage of the mechanism to decouple immigration from education as foreshadowed by Immigration Minister Chris Evans in New Delhi last July.
University of Technology, Sydney business dean Roy Green said the draft list was dramatic and 'much more credible than anything we have seen previously'.
'UTS business will look very closely at this list to see which occupations were included and excluded,' Professor Green said.
'We note accountancy is still included, which is an important part of our intake of overseas students.'
The draft Skilled Occupation List was released last week as part of Skills Australia's national workforce strategy. The new, finalised list, being designed by Skills Australia and to be released next month, replaces the notorious Migration Occupations in Demand List, widely rorted by bogus students seeking residency.
Former overseas students with a 485 temporary visa – or who applied by the February cut-off – could use the present Skilled Occupation List when applying for their next temporary visa leading to residency, Professor Green said.
However, those still studying would be able to use the present Skilled Occupation List only for the 485 temporary visa, not a residency visa.
The Department of Immigration and Citizenship confirmed Professor Green's assessment that the residency prospects of students depended on them holding a 485 visa.
Mr Konrad said cooks, hairdressers and accountants made up more than 60 per cent of applicants waiting in the onshore skilled migration pipeline.
'Given the statistics of 60 per cent [waiting in the] pipeline, you'd have to say 70 [per cent] to 80 per cent of students would have their hopes of achieving [permanent residency] dashed,' Mr Konrad said.
He said fresh graduates of accounting and information were unlikely to meet the new criteria.
A broad range of professions – including surgeons, judges and lecturers – make up 52 of the 92 'specialised occupations' on the draft Skilled Occupation List.
Para-professionals such as fire, police and emergency services, and 22 trades – not including cooking and hairdressing – make up the balance of the list.
Skills Australia said the new list would be based on the 92 specialised occupations but might differ in the final occupations included.
Monash University researcher Bob Birrell said refinement of the Skilled Occupation List was likely and would depend on whether the training system could deliver the skills required in each occupation.
The development comes as a TNS research survey of almost 1700 Indian students found that, despite recent violence, Australian universities made up the top three choices for prospective Indian students.