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April 2012 Volume 19 Number 2
Australia, New Zealand
Australia's economy is booming, as the "rocks" or resources portion of the "crops and rocks" economy expands by over 10 percent a year to provide coal, iron ore, and other resources to China and other countries. The mining industry employs two percent of Australian workers and eight percent of the 80,000 skilled foreign workers in Australia with 457-work visas.<< back
The government is streamlining the process for new mining projects to receive permission to recruit 457-migrants under Enterprise Migration Agreements. The first, being negotiated in spring 2012 to operate the Roy Hill Iron Ore project, would admit up to 1,500 foreign workers. Unions say that employers of 457-visa holders are supposed to pay prevailing wages, but many do not and the migrants do not complain because they hope to stay in Australia as permanent residents.
An estimated two-thirds of foreign students who graduate from Australian universities stay in Australia, and three-fourths of migrant workers from Asian countries who complete 457-contracts stay in Australia. The government made it harder for foreign student graduates of Australian universities to obtain immigrant visas after concluding that some foreigners and Australian institutions were using study in Australia as a path to immigration.
After four years, the 2,500 worker Pacific Seasonal Worker Pilot Scheme will be replaced by the Seasonal Worker Program in July 2012 to allow nationals of East Timor, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu to work on Australian farms. Up to 12,000 Pacific Island workers can be admitted under the SWP over four years, with employers deciding who will be admitted.
Under the SWP, farm employers must be approved to hire Pacific Island workers and must pay part of their travel costs. SWP workers can stay in Australia four to six months without their family members. Under the pilot, about three-fourths of the farm workers admitted were from Tonga.
New Zealand. Immigration Minister Nathan Guy is considering changes to immigration policy to favor the admission of relatives of New Zealand residents with higher incomes. Under a proposal published in March 2012, children sponsoring parents for admission must have higher incomes unless their parents have adequate savings.
New Zealand issued 41,200 immigration visas in 2011, including 36 percent to family-sponsored immigrants.