Post-Covid 19 pandemic immigration laws of many countries are changing. It is high time to adapt to a world where a second pandemic won’t be far away. The changing laws and policies are affecting the immigrant community. Not all changes are welcome.
Australia has a high number of immigrants working and studying there. In 2020 due to lockdown, most of them travelled back to their countries. The year-long lockdown has meant that most have burnt through their visa time without actually working in Australia. Instead of trying to relieve their troubles, the Australian government has announced that there will be no extension made on existing temporary graduate visa holders (Subclass 485).
Immigration ministers stance on visa policies and new changes
According to the immigration minister, a temporary graduate visa only provides a brief stay and work in Australia post-study. It is not a pathway to permanent residency. The period allotted can be from one year to four years. Hence the expectations of visa holders might be unrealistic at this point.
The temporary graduate visa is not a stepping stone towards skilled labor migration. This announcement comes when thousands of 485 via holders have petitioned to gain an extension. The list includes workers as well as graduates who are still stuck back home due to travel restrictions.
Jason Wood, from the government, also stated that the graduate visa has been serving its purpose. It is an unprecedented year hence some changes will be there. The current goal of the government in the face of a global pandemic is to safeguard its citizens. The travel restrictions will still hold. The focus will remain on essential services and healthcare. The government will try over the next year to boost business and jobs across sectors.
Temporary Graduate Visa Holders of Australia sign a petition
There are over 97,000 immigrants in Australia on temporary graduate visas. More than one-third of this number belongs to India. Some immigrants have spoken out that they are confused about why their petition was rejected. The government’s liberal policies to attract new students are not reflected while granting an extension for existing 485 holders.
Many students and workers are still back home. They have lost more than a year of the allotted visa time due to Covid restrictions. Hence, 15000 people came together to file petition to get reimbursed for time lost overseas, which the Australian government rejected.
The petition categorically stated the issues faced by the community. Signatories included students and workers from many nations agreeing on a few common problems. The immigrant community provides revenue in terms of taxes and tuition fees. They also contribute economically and socially to the local Australian community.
These immigrants remain stuck in their homelands for over a year, losing out on visa time, money and opportunity. Many have lost their jobs; they are due on bills and cannot resume life back in Australia. The government must consider their grievances and allow for some extension on their visa. Also, a pathway to residency would be a great deal of help to make their lives easier in Australia.
Despite such united efforts, the petition was rejected. This decision has infuriated the community, and Australia stands to lose many immigrants to other prospective nations. It is, in general, not a good time for immigrants in Australia.
Couples live apart as one faced visa expiry, students remain stuck back home due to border restrictions, and workers get no extension on visa time. Many immigrants will run out of visas while in their home countries and not return to Australia. So you might want to think twice before opting for an expensive Australian education post-pandemic.
No concessions for current temporary graduate visa holders
The Australian government has announced concessions for the upcoming batch of immigrants seeking a visa. But there have been no such policy changes for existing graduate visa holders. The amendments on the 485 will only apply to new candidates and not existing ones. Why this discrimination? Many are asking the same question.
The many existing 485 visa holders stranded offshore are in despair. The Australian government’s decision not to extend their visa and disregard all other appeals comes as a shock. Many are contemplating their decision to return.
Travel restrictions from India and many other countries to Australia are still in place. Hence nobody can say when immigrants stranded overseas will be allowed to reenter the country. Many have and also will buy then hit an expiry on their 485 visas.
Many of these visa holders, approximately one-third of the total, belong to India. Among them is Mr. Reddy from south India, who came back to Hyderabad last year after being laid off from his job. He was on a two-year post-study work visa which is running out quickly. Without an extension, it doesn’t make sense for him to return as he is already halfway through it. His situation is not unique.
Due to the pandemic’s economic slowdown, many temporary graduate visa holders have lost their jobs. This means that an expensive education and years of work behind it go to vain.
Thousands of temporary graduate visa holders and perplexed about what they must do in the future. The government remains adamant about its decision.
The workers have hefty loans they must repay and also other commitments in Australia. If their visa expires while there is still a trip, they won’t be allowed to enter the country on its basis.
The Australian government also has announced special provisions for Hongkongers, but nothing about visa holders from other nations. The reopening of borders still remains a matter of debate as there might be another wave of infections if restrictions are lifted.
The first priority now is to keep Australia’s people safe, as rightly stated by many government officials.