On 29 March 2019, I received an email stating “Secretary Pezzullo has requested that a/g Deputy Secretary, Luke Mansfield and First Assistant Secretary, Richard Johnson provide you a personal briefing.” Thinking this was the dawn of a new era of transparency in Home Affairs, I asked if I could send a series of questions ahead of the meeting to guide the discussion. This was agreed to and below is the list of questions I sent four days ahead of the meeting. An hour before the scheduled time of the meeting, I received an email stating the meeting had been cancelled. No explanation given.
- If regional migration has always been a priority, why did Government allow usage of these visas to decline for the last 5 years?
- What further consultation with states, regions, business groups and the MIA is proposed?
- What extra resources have been allocated to process the new visas.
- Is any additional funding proposed for settlement services in regional Australia?
- What will be the monitoring arrangements and what types of visa breaches will be prioritised for regional visas – relevant given length of provisional period and the Minister’s public comments on this?
- Have additional resources been allocated to monitor exploitation of the lower skill migrants?
RSMS Replacement Visa
- What was the policy rationale and evidence supporting replacement of RSMS with this visa?
- What was the evidence supporting alleged ‘systemic’ rorting of RSMS that could not have been addressed without replacing this long-standing visa?
- How will that alleged rorting be addressed through the RSMS replacement?
- Apart from making this a 3 year provisional visa and broadening the range of eligible occupations, will there be any other differences from the requirements of the existing RSMS
- On what basis was the planning level for this new visa determined. What were the calculations?
- What will be the requirements for the permanent visa flowing from this visa in terms of issues such as skill, work experience, age, English, salary, etc?
- Will there be a single list of occupations across all states/regions or different lists?
- Will applicant’s occupations have to be on an eligible list at second stage or will they be ‘protected’ once provisional visa is granted?
- Will there be any requirement to remain with the sponsoring employer once permanent residence is granted?
- If a provisional visa holder is required as part of their job to move to a metro area (eg as a result of a promotion or a transfer of the location of their job with the same employer), will that be permissible?
- Will the Skilling Australia Fund levy apply for this visa?
- What is the overall cost structure for the new visa?
- Will second stage secondary applicants be automatically accepted if they were included at stage 1 or if children become independent and take up a job in another location or in a metro area? Is there a risk the secondary applicants may be excluded on health grounds?
- What will be the role of states, RCBs, RDAs etc in terms of employer integrity and genuine vacancy?
- What happens to the RSMS applications already in the system?
- Provisional visas have very limited access to government services and benefits. Do you this as further increasing exploitation and destitution risks?
- What about family breakdown issues?
New Version of S/C 489 (State/Territory Nominated Provisional)
- What was the evidence supporting need to change the S/C 489 visas?
- Will this be a 5 year provisional visa with a requirement that the visa holder live and work in the nominating jurisdiction? Will there be any other changes to this compared to the S/C 489?
- What will the new visa require in terms of minimum Skill, Skilled Work Experience, Age and English?
- How does the planning level for this visa in 2019-20 compare to the level of use of the S/C 489 in 2017-18 and projected for 2018-19? How did you arrive at this estimated planning level?
Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMSs)
- Given creation of new RSMS and new S/C 489, what policy objective will DAMA’s serve? What public policy problem or need are they directed at that cannot be met by these other regional visas?
- What are the minimum requirements Home Affairs will insist on for concessions in these agreements for English, Skill, Work Experience and Age?
- What are the minimum requirements for a S/C 482 visa under a DAMA to access skilled permanent residence? Can someone who has accessed all the concessions for English, Age, Skill, Work Experience still be able to obtain skilled Permanent Residence? – I understand they must access S/C 186 (ENS)? Is that right?
- Will there not be many DAMA S/C 482 (Temporary Skill Shortage) visa holders who will be never be able to meet the requirements for a S/C 186 even after having lived in regional Australia for many years? What will their options be?
- Why not offer them more accessible PR pathways?
- Are the timeframes and processing requirements for DAMA applications too excessive to make it sufficiently attractive? What is the broad process for DAMA application for S/C 482?
- What are the labour market testing requirements for DAMA applications? How many times will LMT be required for DAMA applications to get to the end of the process through to PR?
- What level of take up in S/C 482 under DAMAs do you project over the next few years?
- Why is S/C 186 the only PR pathway from a DAMA S/C 482?
- What consideration have you given to the increased risk of exploitation associated with people with limited English and relatively low skills who are effectively beholden to their employer to get PR?
- What consideration have you given to the increased risk that these people may become destitute if they are unable to keep their jobs over a longer period, especially if they risk having their visa cancelled if they lose their job and move to take up a job elsewhere?
- What will be the base conditions for someone with a S/C 485 to access the regional third year? Where must they have studied and where must they have worked?
- How can existing S/C 485 visa holders access the third year?
- Will occupations that are on the new RSMS visa be aligned with those required for this visa to enable a clear pathway (eg non-university level qualifications)?
Global Talent Visa
- Is this a S/C 482 visa or something else?
- Is this the first time this visa, or its predecessor visa the S/C 457, has been counted as part of the migration program?
- Why did you decide to count this as part of the program? What is the policy rationale?
- Please advise how you arrived at the planning level of 5,000 in 2019-20? What is the projected outcome for 2018-19?
- What were the number of NZ citizens granted a skilled independent visa in 2017-18, projected for 2018-19 and included in the planning level for 2019-20?
- Why was longstanding policy not to count NZers going onto PR in the Migration Program changed to count them in the program? What was the policy rationale?
- What is the projected outcome for spouses in 2018-19 and the planning level for 2019-20?
- Is the Government limiting the number of spouse visas issued each year?
- What legal advice do you have on this given the Migration Act does not permit Government to limit the number spouse visas issued?
- Are applications lodged onshore being sent offshore for processing? If so, how is the offshore processing office selected?
- What training is being provided to these offshore offices to ensure consistent application of regulations and policy?
- What is the Government’s strategy to deal with the surge in non-genuine asylum seekers in recent years?
- Can you please provide stats on the numbers of asylum seekers now in Australia at various stages in the process (eg at primary stage; at review; at ministerial intervention; at judicial review; departed; and in Australia with an expired BV)?
- Noting Australia’s long history of streamlining access to citizenship as the basis for achieving greater social cohesion, can you please provide an update on the public policy problems that gave rise to the proposed changes to citizenship law to make access to citizenship more difficult?
- How will these proposed changes address the identified public policy problems?
Abul Rizvi was a senior official in the Department of Immigration from the early 1990s to 2007, when he left as deputy secretary.