’13 years in Australia and I’m not a permanent resident yet’

September 25, 2019 no comment kartik

Indian national Jaspreet Singh says he is frustrated with increasing processing times for his skilled regional permanent visa that he applied for over 19 months ago. Experts are concerned delays could potentially harm Australia’s reputation as a destination for skilled migrants.

Jaspreet Singh is among nearly 8,000 temporary migrants living in regional towns across Australia who are caught up in delays in the processing of their permanent residency applications.

The Indian national has lived in Australia for over 13 years and has been living in Bendigo, Victoria, since 2014 where he works as a commercial cook.

Despite having applied for his permanent skilled regional visa in February 2018, which at the time should have taken about six months for processing, Mr Singh says he has no news about it even 19 months later as the processing time has now risen to 18-21 months.

“It’s quite frustrating not being able to know what’s holding up my application especially when I meet all the requirements,” Mr Singh told.

He is on a provisional skilled regional visa and was required to live in a regional area for two years and work there for at least one year in order to become eligible for permanent residency.

The Department of Home Affairs told that many temporary migrants living in regions became eligible to apply for permanent residency in the past two years, which it said has increased the processing time to up to 21 months.

The Department also said that many applications weren’t lodged in “decision-ready” state and that when asked for, applicants were taking longer to supply additional documents.

Migration agents are concerned that increasing waiting times for processing visa applications could put off migrants from moving to regions.

“When the bargain is changed midway through, you run the risk of damaging your reputation,”

Mr Singh says being on a temporary visa and restricted to living in the region has brought him face to face with many challenges.

“Exploitation and bullying at work is one. When your opportunities are limited, it’s bound to happen. I have had to quit a job recently because I couldn’t take bullying there anymore,” he says.

Greens spokesperson for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Nick McKim says the government needs to improve this situation.

“Processing times for many visa classes, including for skilled regional visas are unacceptably long, with some people currently waiting years for decisions,” he said.

“Living with the resultant uncertainly makes it very difficult for people to make important decisions about employment, education and childcare.”

The Government says over $19 million will be spent to attract skilled migrants to regional areas, including priority processing.

While the government’s intent may be right, the current policy isn’t likely to have the desired effect.

“We need to attract the right cohort, people who want to live in the regions even after they have become permanent migrants,”

It has actually become harder to move to the regions since March 2018 and we aren’t getting even one-tenth of people under RSMS (the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme) we were getting before the changes were introduced.

In the changes introduced in March 2018 when the controversial 457 visa was abolished, three years of work experience was made mandatory for people seeking skilled regional visas as well as employer-sponsored temporary visas. International students and backpackers were locked out of regional visas as a result of the changes.

“While the new regional visas are being introduced this year, migration policy and the law have not been adjusted to give the desired effect. The rules are harder to meet now than they were before,”

Under Australia’s annual migration planning levels, 23,000 visas are reserved for regions.

Shadow Minister for Home Affairs Kristina Keneally says a “go-slow” visa processing times and exploitation of migrants has strangled regional migration.

“You only have to look at how the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme has collapsed under this third term Liberal Government to see that Peter Dutton has neglected regional migration – which has clearly had real impacts on the lives of people who want to settle in regional Australia,”.

She says the RSMS visa has plunged from over 20,500 in 2012-13 in the last year of Labor government to just 6,221 in 2017-18. In 2018-19, the number rose to nearly 9,000.

News source: SBS Punjabi

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