Australia’s interstate skilled migration rort

By Leith van Onselen

Back in March, Dr Bob Birrell from the Australian Population Research Institute (APRI) released a damning report showing that Australia’s so-called skilled visa system is a giant fraud, whereby:

  • many recently arrived skilled migrants (i.e. arrived between 2011 and 2016) cannot find professional jobs;
  • many skilled migrants have gone into areas that the government’s own Department of Employment has judged to be oversupplied (e.g. accounting and engineering); and
  • migrants have generally worse labour market outcomes than the Australian born population.

This followed a veritable conga-line of reports of widespread rorting of Australia’s temporary visa system.

Then in April, Chris Wright and Stephen Clibborn from the University of Sydney published a report, entitled Back Door, Side Door or Front Door? An Emerging De-Facto Low-Skilled Immigration Policy in Australia, which also questioned the efficacy of Australia’s so-called skilled migration system.

Yesterday, SBS News reported that Australia’s so-called skilled visa system has been rorted by applicants from the Sub-Continent using state-based nominations in Tasmania and the ACT for backdoor permanent residency into Sydney and Melbourne, which are suffering from crush-loading:

During recent months and years, a large number of prospective permanent residents – particularly international students from the Indian subcontinent – moved to Tasmania and the ACT for a relatively easier pathway to permanent residency.

But, the latest set of changes, including increased work experience in Tasmania and closing down of occupations in the ACT, has sent the visa aspirants scurrying for alternatives.

Tasmania has jacked up the work experience requirement to six months from previous three before an applicant is sponsored for a provisional regional skilled visa (489) and skilled permanent nominated (190) visa.

The ACT has suspended some occupations, including Accountants and IT professionals. It has also closed state nomination for visa subclass 190 for overseas visa seekers, even those with close ties to Canberra.

Jujhar Bajwa from Bajwa Immigration Consultants in Melbourne says many of his clients are extremely worried due to these changes.

“They [visa seekers] moved from Melbourne and Sydney to Tasmania and ACT, worked hard in order to fulfil one set of requirements hoping that they will get the state nomination, and now suddenly they have another set of requirements to fulfil,” he told SBS Punjabi.

“Many of them are with young families, they moved halfway across the country and they are now worried about their future in Australia.”

State and territory governments in Australia run their own immigration program and can nominate visa applicants to fill the skill gaps and meet labour demands. Such a nomination carries additional points for immigration.

Many visa seekers, including international students, began heading to the ACT and Tasmania…

Applicants and migration agents are further concerned about the government’s decision to increase the minimum score on the general points test to 65 from previous 60 for applying for skilled visas.

“It’s a heartbreak for many applicants who thought 60 points is enough for their bid to PR [Permanent Residency],” said Rohit Mohan of Lakshya Migration.

Unfortunately, reports of visa rorting from Sub Continental applicants appears commonplace.

In June 2016, ABC’s 7.30 Report documented systemic fraud within Australia’s working and student visa programs (summary post here), whereby Melbourne Indian community leader, Jasvinder Sidhu, explained his first-hand accounts of widespread visa rorting and corruption:

ABC’s 7.30 Report repeated the dose February, with another report highlighting exploitation of the skilled visa system by dodgy migration agents involving Indian and Pakistani citizens:

Whereas in March, ABC Radio further highlighted the absurdity of Australia’s ‘skilled’ migration program, profiling a permanent skilled migrant family from Bangladesh who has not been able to gain work in South Australia despite leaving their homeland to fill so-called ‘skills shortages’. Accordingly, migrant groups are are now demanding that taxpayers provide government-sponsored internships to help skilled migrants gain local experience, and a chance to work in their chosen field:

Why do we have a skilled intake again? To lengthen the dole queue? To rob developing nations of their skilled workers? And how exactly is the 130,000 strong skilled migrant program alleviating so-called skills shortages?

Australia’s skilled migration program is one giant fraud that is failing miserably to meet its original intent, while crush-loading Sydney and Melbourne and wrecking liveability.

[email protected]

Leith van Onselen

Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.


  1. reusachtigeMEMBER

    Oh those curries are little scammers now aren’t they! The girls at the parlour tell me that they are really hairy too and it all gets in knots with the oil during the massage stage.

  2. boomengineeringMEMBER

    More money to be made charging the 457’s to enter the country then closing the business down. So we have Aussie workers laid off to make room for the 457’s and 457’s also without work.
    .( happening a lot at the Central Coast)

  3. Lenny Hayes for PMMEMBER

    The international student space is a bit of a laugh for Tassie as well. A large chunk are enrolling in Uni and RTO to access cheaper courses and lower visa vetting but utilise “on-line” options as much as possible while living in Melbourne and occasionally flying down to tick off minimum course requirements.

  4. kiwikarynMEMBER

    My Indian neighbours lasted exactly one year living in my regional town, before packing up and departing for Auckland. Happens everywhere.

    • SchillersMEMBER

      To Auckland…from where they will attain New Zealand residency… and an automatic permanent residency visa back to…

  5. So we are building up the future tax base, population wise, but decreasing the average earnings of each tax payer (due to migrants taking low skilled and low paying roles).