Australian Taxation Office Data Matching for Department of Immigration and Border Protection

An initiative which allows for more efficient collaboration between the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), has seen the Commissioner for Taxation issue a Notice of a Data Matching Program for visa holders. This will allow the ATO to acquire from the DIBP, personal and other details of Australian visa holders, their sponsors, and their migration agents for the 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17 financial years. Information will be collected from approximately 1 million visa holders, and will include:

  • Address and contact history for visa holders and their sponsors
  • Visa grant details and status
  • Address and contact history for migration agents
  • All international travel undertaken by visa holders
  • Sponsor details
  • Education provider details and information

The ATO has outlined its objectives for the initiative, and they include the following:

  • Assist in developing and implementing administrative strategies to improve voluntary compliance by visa holders, sponsors and migration agents
  • Improve knowledge of the overall level of compliance with taxation obligations by visa holders, sponsors and migration agents
  • Test the veracity and strengths of existing risk detection models and treatment systems and identify areas for improvement in the ATO’s suite of compliance models and treatment systems and practices
  • Improve the integrity of the Tax and Superannuation system by cancelling ineligible ABN registrants
  • Identify potentially new or widespread fraud methodologies and those entities controlling or exploiting those methodologies
  • Ensure compliance with registration, lodgement, correct reporting and payment of taxation and superannuation obligations

This initiative is in line with the changes made to the 457 programme, and is designed to improve the integrity of the visa programme and compliance.

New Skilled Occupation List (SOL) and Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL)

On July 1, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) released the new Skilled Occupation List (SOL) and Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL) for the skilled migration programme.

The following occupations have been removed from the SOL:

  • Urban and Regional Planner (ANZSCO 232611)
  • Dental Specialist (ANZSCO 252311)
  • Dentist (ANZSCO 252312)

These occupations remain on the CSOL, so applicants will still have the opportunity to be eligible for state or employer sponsored visas.

The following occupations have been added to the SOL:

  • Panelbeater (ANZSCO 324111)
  • Cabinetmaker (ANZSCO 394111)

Of significance is the decision that accounting occupations will remain on the SOL, as the government had previously flagged these for removal.

Further, the occupation Minister of Religion (ANZSCO 272211) remains on the CSOL, however, it is only eligible for sponsorship under the 402 Training and Research visa programme.

FCB Smart Visa will continue to provide information relevant to the skilled migration programme when it becomes available. If you would like to discuss how these changes will affect your business, or you are interested in further information, please call an FCB Smart Visa migration agent on 02 9922 5188.

Premium Investor Visa (PIV) Legislation Released

The new Premium Investor Visa (PIV) was released today, under the Subclass 188/888 Business Innovation and Investment Visa.

This visa will offer high net worth individuals an accelerated 12 month pathway to permanent residency if they invest at least $15 million into complying premium investments.

Under the new framework, a complying premium investment may include:

  • securities quoted on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX);
  • bonds or notes issued by one of the following:
    • A company that is quoted on the ASX;
    • A wholly-owned subsidiary of a company on the ASX, if the subsidiary is incorporated in Australia;
    • a company incorporated in Australia, or a registered foreign company, if the bonds or notes are rated as investment grade by a credit rating agency that holds an Australian financial services licence; or
    • the Commonwealth Government, the government of a State or Territory or a local government authority in Australia
  • a proprietary company within the meaning of the Corporations Act 2001;
  • annuities (with limitations);
  • Australian real property (with limitations);
  • if the investment is made through a managed investment fund — cash held by Australian ADIs, including certificates of deposit, bank bills and other cash?like instruments (with limitations);
  • derivatives (with limitations).

As well as the introduction of the PIV, the requirements for the Significant Investor, Business Innovation, and Investor streams have been amended.

FCB Smart Visa will continue to provide information on PIVs as it is released. To discuss the opportunities the introduction of this visa may offer to you, please contact an FCB Smart Visa migration agent on (02) 9922 5188.

Review to Cut Occupations from the Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL)

The Ministerial Advisory Council on Skilled Migration (MACSM) last week began its review into the skilled migration programme, with a view to removing specific occupations from the Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL).
The MACSM primarily advises the government on visa and policy settings to optimise skilled migration to Australia, and improve Australia’s productivity while boosting its economy. It ultimately advises the government on which occupations should be included on the list, and which should be left out.
Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) council representative, Ged Kearney, has welcomed the review, saying that there is no reason why some occupations should be on the list. Others, such as Australia Chamber of Commerce and Industry director Jenny Lambert, have said that the CSOL should not be shortened, but should be responsive and allow for different business and regional differences.
It has been suggested that the CSOL review should take an evidence-based approach to maximise the effectiveness of the 457 programme, and should not try to make the CSOL into a shortages list.
Ms Kearney has further said that the mobility of the Australian labour force is an issue that must be addressed, and supported the need for a robust 457 programme by indicating that instead of taking away jobs from Australians, a well-balanced program would generate jobs.
FCB Smart Visa will be holding several obligation and cost free round-table discussions on the mobility of the labour force in the coming weeks. We will focus on the 457 programme, and what the government’s changes will mean for your business. If you are interested in attending one of these sessions, please call an FCB Smart Visa migration agent on 02 9922 5188.

Crack-down on Conditions for Foreign Workers

A string of recent cases demonstrate the Fair Work Ombudsman’s (FWO) heightened focus on compliance with employment and visa conditions for foreign workers. Most significantly, in the largest-ever court-imposed fine for a breach of 457 visa sponsorship obligations, the Federal Court handed down a pecuniary penalty of $175,000 to Choong Enterprises Pty Ltd, for systematic underpayment of Filipino workers. The company has been directed to back-pay the employees a total of $125,956.

FWO’s emphasis on foreign workers is a result of the Independent Review into the 457 visa programme earlier this year. In response to the Review, the Federal Government announced that the FWO would play an increasingly prominent role in monitoring and enforcing compliance in relation to overseas workers.

FWO has accepted this role with vigour. Some recent examples of underpayment claims involving foreign workers include:

  • An underpayment claim totaling $35,900 of Chinese nationals on 417 visas in an Adelaide fast food takeaway shop.
  • Underpayment of $4,200 to an overseas worker employed by a small retailer in NSW. Due to a history of underpayment claims the business will face potential penalties of up to $51,000 for the company and $10,200 for the owner.
  • Underpayment of $5,573 by a prominent fast food restaurant to a Korean worker on a 417 visa. Owners of the business will be required to undertake compliance training as part of an Enforceable Undertaking in addition to back payment of the wages.

FWO is not just targeting underpayments; visas which allow foreign visitors to work in Australia each come with their own unique set of conditions which must be complied with.

457 Temporary Work (Skilled) Visa

  • Holders of this class of visa must work for the approved sponsor in a position compliant with the nominated role they elected when applying for their visa, and at least at their nominated salary
  • Workers must also not cease work for more than 90 days

417 Working Holiday/462 Work and Holiday

  • Workers holding these classes of visas must not work for one employer for more than six months
  • Employers should note that this applies to workers engaged on a casual on-hire basis. This means that even if a worker is strictly the employee of an on-hire company, they are still prohibited from working at one business (i.e. an end-user client) for longer than six months

573 Higher Education Sector Visa

  • These visa holders cannot work more than 40 hours in any given fortnight whilst their course is in session
  • Only outside the advertised course session are employees permitted to work full time hours

What does this mean for Standard Business Sponsors?

Businesses should be mindful of the conditions which may apply to visa holders, in addition to all usual employment entitlements. The FWO has taken on its monitoring role robustly and, as has been demonstrated, contraventions in relation to foreign workers will not be viewed lightly.

FCB Smart Visa will continue to provide the most up to date information on future changes. To discuss any concerns you may have regarding your sponsorship obligations, please contact an FCB Smart Visa migration agent on (02) 9922 5188.

New Panel to Address Issues Surrounding Australian Visa Changes

A new nine member panel has been appointed as the next Ministerial Advisory Council on Skilled Migration (MACSM), comprised of both new and returning members.

The Council’s role is to advise the government on visa and policy issues to enhance the function of Australia’s skilled migration program, and its contribution to Australia’s productivity and economy.

The recent reviews of the subclass 457 and Significant Investor Visa programmes highlight the importance of the Council in its role as advisor to the government; it will take into consideration the factors presented in these reviews, which will ultimately lead to the programmes better meeting Australia’s needs in the skilled migration space.

One of the first tasks of the panel will be to review the composition of the Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List, with a view to increasing the productivity contribution of sponsored migration.

The panel will include:

  • Innes Willox – Chief Executive of the Australian Industry Group
  • Ged Kearney – President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions
  • John Azarias – Senior Partner from Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu
  • Su McCluskey – Chief Executive Officer of the Regional Australia Institute
  • Steve Knott – Chief Executive of the Australian Mines and Metals Association
  • Brett Moller – President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland
  • Carol Giuseppi – Acting Chief Executive officer at Tourism Accommodation Australia
  • Sylvia Burbery – General Manager of Mars Petcare Australia/New Zealand

Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, the Hon Michaelia Cash said, ‘these nine members all bring with them a wealth of experience and represent industry, unions and State and Territory governments. All appointments will initially be for 12 months.’

FCB Smart Visa will continue to provide updates on the work of the Ministerial Advisory Council on Skilled Migration when they become available. If you have any migration matters that you would like to discuss, please call an FCB Smart Visa migration agent on 02 9922 5188.

Data Matching Programme to be Introduced

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) will soon provide Centrelink with the details of visa applicants and sponsors of the onshore partner visa programme (Subclass 820/801) for the years 2012/13 and 2013/14. The aim of this is to identify instances of migration and social security fraud. DIBP will release the information under the Australian Privacy Principle6.2 (b) of the Privacy Act 1988 and the Social Security (Administration) Act 1999.
More than 5,000 records will be released to Centrelink for data-matching purposes. They will be used to identify non-compliance and fraud through declarations regarding relationship status and personal details.
The shared information will result in the identification of these non-compliance issues, and form the basis of enforcement strategies and quite possibly criminal investigations. DIBP will investigate in instances where:
  • Visa applicants are suspected of being involved in migration fraud in the partner visa programme.
  • Centrelink customers are failing to report their correct relationship status to DIBP.
  • External parties are using the partner visa programme as a path for their clients to obtain permanent residency in Australia.
  • Sponsors are potentially being exploited through the partner visa programme.
Those affected by the data-sharing are non-citizens and sponsors who have lodged onshore partner visa applications, and whose relationship details differ to those provided to Centrelink.
If you are concerned about how these changes may affect you, please contact an FCB Smart Visa migration agent on (02) 9922 5188 for a confidential discussion.

Announcement on the Significant and Premium Investor Visas

The government has today released the new complying investment framework for the Significant Investor Visa (SIV) and the Premium Investor Visa (PIV). The new framework will be implemented from 1 July 2015 and will encourage investment into Australian innovation, and emerging companies. Austrade, along with the State and Territory Governments, will become nominators for the SIV, whilst Austrade will be the sole nominator for the PIV.

Under the new framework, SIV applicants will be required to invest a minimum of $5 million over four years in complying investments, which now include:

  • A minimum of $500,000 in eligible Australian venture capital or growth private equity funds investing in start-up or small private companies. Within two years, the government will increase this amount to $1 million for new applications;
  • A minimum of $1.5 million in an eligible managed fund or Listed Investment Companies (LICs) that invest in start-ups listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX); and
  • the balance of $3 million in an eligible managed fund or LICs that invest in a range of other ASX listed companies, eligible corporate bonds and notes, annuities, and real property (with a 10% limit on residential real estate).

This new framework will allow for investments to go into areas that require growth, instead of being put into areas that already see significant capital flow, such as government bonds and residential real estate funds.

The PIV, which will be introduced on 1 July 2015, will target talented and innovative business people, and will offer an accelerated 12 month pathway to permanent residency for those who invest at least $15 million into complying investments. The Australia Government will issue invitations to potential applicants, and Austrade and the States and Territories will also each play a significant role in identifying individuals.

Under the new framework, PIV applicants will be required to invest in eligible investments, including:

  • ASX listed assets;
  • Australia Government bonds or notes;
  • Corporate bonds or notes issued by an ASX listed entity;
  • Australian proprietary limited companies;
  • Real property in Australia, excluding residential;
  • Deferred annuities issued by Australian registered life companies; and
  • S&T government approved philanthropic donations.

There will be a further requirement that cash is to be 20% or less of a fund’s net assets, and derivatives are to be used for risk management purposes only.

FCB Smart Visa will update you on any further developments on SIVs and PIVs as information is released. To discuss how these changes might affect your current situation, please contact an FCB Smart Visa migration agent on (02) 9922 5188.

The Federal Budget 2015: Implications for Immigration

The newly released Federal Budget 2015 has brought with it some significant changes to many areas, including much of immigration and border protection. One of the most significant changes affecting potential visa applicants is the increase in Visa Application Charges (VAC) for a range of visas. The aim of these price increases is to raise the government’s revenue, and is expected to do so to the tune of $437.1 million over the next four years.

From 1 July 2015, the following changes are likely to be seen:

  • The VACs for visa applications made overseas will increase to align with the application charges of onshore visas (with the exception of Child visas, which will instead be matched to offshore prices);
  • The Subclass 457 VAC will increase by 25%;
  • The Significant Investment Visa VAC will increase by 50%; and
  • Working holiday visa holders will have the tax free threshold (currently up to $18,200) removed, and will be made to pay 32.5 percent tax from the first dollar they earn while travelling and working in Australia.

FCB Smart Visa will continue to provide updates on the implications for immigration as a result of the Federal Budget in due course. If you have any migration matters that you would like to discuss, please call an FCB Smart Visa migration agent on 02 9922 5188.

Government Productivity Commission Investigates a Price-based Model of Immigration for Australia

The Australian Government’s Productivity Commission has been tasked with identifying options for Australia’s future intake of migrants in order to improve the wealth and living standards of Australians, assist the budgets of the Government, and minimise the costs associated with immigration. The inquiry will primarily focus on the greater use of charges to determine the intake of both temporary and permanent migrants into Australia, and its findings will be published in a report due for release by March 2016.

A price-based model of immigration has been discussed at length by various economists over the years, but most recently by Gary Becker. Becker’s proposal focuses on how this model would deliver greater benefits to both the immigrants, and the host countries.

The May 2015 Productivity Commission Issues Paper, Migrant Intake Into Australia, identifies four areas that will need to be investigated, to determine the effectiveness of the proposal in the above objectives:

  1. The benefits and costs that can be generated from the intake of temporary and permanent residents, with respect to:

a) The income, wealth and living standards of Australians, and how they will be impacted by such a change; and
b) The budgets and balance sheets of Australian governments;

  1. An examination of alternative methods for determining the intake of migrants to Australia, including through payment, and the effects these would have. This would include the examination of specific scenarios where entry charges would be the primary criteria for selecting particular migrants. The scenario would need to consider how the charges could be set, to not only maintain the current level of migrant intake, but also to maximise the benefits for Australian citizens;
  2. The benefits and costs associated with temporary migration, which should examine the use of charges that will form the primary basis for determining the level and composition of this kind of migration; and
  3. Mechanisms for achieving collaboration between temporary and permanent migration, noting that one ultimately leads to the other.

Also of relevance to the Commission will be policies relating to services provisions including: infrastructure; social security; education; health care; housing and so on. Other factors will include domestic policies relating to the impacts of immigration on such issues as the environment and social cohesion. These policies and provisions will have a vast impact on the way in which a price-based system will work and ultimately succeed. They will need to be considered along with abovementioned wider benefits to the Australian community.

FCB Smart Visa will continue to provide updates on the Commission’s Inquiry when they become available. If you have any migration matters that you would like to discuss, please call an FCB Smart Visa migration agent on 02 9922 5188.