Yet another visa category exposed as giant rort

Via Murdoch:

Exclusive: It was set up to attract the best and brightest from around the world, but Australia’s Global Talent visa program has become a farce, attracting hairdressers instead of rocket scientists.

Immigration experts say the program, which is the fastest way to get Australian permanent residency, is laden with loopholes and being exploited.

Concerns about security are mounting following a huge influx of Iranians on the visas an thousands more of their countrymen on separate business innovation and skilled migrant visas.

In the past 10 months more than 7000 talent visas have been granted overall and documents under Freedom of Information (FOI) show almost 1500 visas were granted within 14 days and more than 1000 within four weeks.

Alarmingly, many of those approved did not have a dedication occupation.

We are all shocked, shocked! The entire skilled visa edifice is giant rort. The empirical data on Australia’s ‘skilled’ migration program contained in the Department of Home Affairs’ Continuous Survey of Migrants. This report shows unambiguously that Australia’s purported skilled migration system is actually a low-skilled, low-wage visa scheme used by employers to undercut local workers:

As shown above, migrants have significantly worse labour market outcomes than the general population. Specifically:

  • The median annual full-time earnings of migrants was $16,500 (22%) below the general population in 2017;
  • The median annual earnings of migrants was $5,900 (10.2%) below the general population in 2017; and
  • The unemployment rate of surveyed migrants (12.6%) was more than double the general population (5.5%) in 2017.

Even if we focus on the skilled stream only, both median earnings and unemployment is far worse than the general population:


These are shocking results. The skilled stream accounts for 60% of Australia’s permanent migration program. They are purported to be highly qualified and brought into Australia to overcome so-called ‘skills shortages’.

These ‘skilled’ migrants should, therefore, be paid well above the general population, which comprises both skilled and unskilled workers, as well as have very low unemployment.

The fact that ‘skilled’ migrants are paid less, and suffer higher unemployment, is a damning indictment of Australia’s purported ‘skilled’ immigration system, and is bonafide proof that it is undercutting local workers.

Australia’s ‘skilled’ temporary visa system is equally bad.

The Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) has been set at an abysmally low $53,900, which is well below the median Australian wage of $1,100 per week ($57,200 p.a.), according to the ABS:

This TSMIT wage floor was $3,300 (6%) below the median income of all Australians ($57,200) in August 2019, which includes unskilled workers.

Thus, the TSMIT has also incentivised employers to hire cheap migrants instead of local workers, as well as abrogated the need to provide training.

Like in Australia, the Economic Policy Institute revealed systemic rorting of the US’ temporary skilled H1-B visa, and recommended significantly lifting the wage floor pertaining to these visas:

The highest priority for H-1B reform is fixing the prevailing wage rule. The new wage-level data presented in this report make clear that most companies that use the H-1B program—but especially the biggest users, by nature of the sheer volume of workers they employ—are exploiting a flawed H-1B prevailing wage rule to underpay their H-1B workers relative to market wage standards…

The data in this report show the top 30 H-1B employers are in fact hiring H-1B workers to fill a very large number of routine (Levels 1 and 2) positions that require relatively little experience and ordinary skills… employers have all but disinvested in workforce training, in part because of the disincentives created by ready access to lower-paid H-1B workers…

The data presented in this report indicate that all H-1B employers, but especially the largest employers, use the H-1B program either to hire relatively lower-wage workers (relative to the wages paid to other workers in their occupation) who possess ordinary skills or to hire skilled workers and pay them less than the true market value of their work. Either possibility raises important policy questions about the use and allocation of H-1B visas.

By setting two of the H-1B prevailing wage levels so low relative to the median and not requiring that firms pay at least market wages to H-1B workers, DOL incentivizes firms to earn extraordinary profits by legally hiring much-lower-paid H-1B workers instead of workers earning the local median wage…

DOL should promulgate regulations and/or issue administrative guidance that sets the lowest (Level 1) wage to the 75th percentile for the occupation and local area, and requires that wage offers to H-1B workers never be lower than the national median wage for the occupation. Requiring and enforcing above-median wages for H-1B workers would disincentivize the hiring of H-1B workers as a money-saving exercise, ensuring that companies will use the program as intended—to bring in workers who have special skills—instead of using H-1B as a way to cheaply fill entry-level positions.

Rather than giving Australian businesses unfettered access to ‘skilled visas’ and “global talent visas ‘, all skilled migrants (both temporary and permanent) should instead be required to be employer-sponsored (given their far better employment outcomes – see above charts) and paid at least at the 75th percentile of earnings.

David Llewellyn-Smith
Latest posts by David Llewellyn-Smith (see all)


  1. “during past 10mths” so during border shut-down, so we can expect an unprecedented influx (of hairdressers) once they open

    And as for “NO dedicated occupation”

    • Hairdressers with post-grad degrees in physics, ha, ha. This country is really plumbing the depths.

      • Shades of MessinaMEMBER

        A cabdriver in Perth once told me that “every Geologist in WA also has a cab driver’s license” !. A matter of timing I guess.

        Not sure why anyone would study Physics in this country anyway, you would actually make far more money as a hairdresser.

    • Excellent category. Keeps Aussie males happy.
      Local born ladies no will power to sick cook as equity increased. Mark Javobs & Prada all round. Let imports fo hard yards skin to skin

  2. adelaide_economistMEMBER

    In the past 10 months more than 7000 talent visas have been granted

    So these visas were granted during the pandemic… are we to assume they still haven’t entered the country or that they have comprised a hefty part of the ‘international return’ flow? Thank heavens Scotty from Marketing is tough on border control.

    • alwaysanonMEMBER

      We (tech company) hired a staff member from Canada who has didn’t make it over before the border shut. He had lived in Oz working for us before for years and used to have PR here but moved back to Canada (for a girl) and lost it. He hasn’t been able to make it in even with valid work visa as the only are letting in PR and Citizens atm – so has been working Australian hours waiting for his chance. I am sure there are heaps of people on valid visas like him who will compete with the citizens that want to return for flights/quarantine spots as soon as they are allowed to…

    • Charles MartinMEMBER

      If it’s a people smuggler boat, Scummo talks a tough game on borders, like his idol, little Johnny Winston Howard “we choose who Yada-Yada”
      But, when it comes to the “borders” that arguably do more damage and get rorted in the extreme, he’s just a patsy, like all of the rest of them.

      • As I was trying to explain to my bogan friends and family when they voted for Abbots ” Stop the boats” cause they were ” stealing our jobs”. Or as I told them ” for every boat immigrant stopped they will invite 1000 more through the front door specifically to take your job” Murdoch never explained that to them and most of them still dont get it, not even while they are stuck with part time casual McWork

    • Exactly. Although the Qantas type of outsourcing can see the existing staff win their own jobs back at lower pay and conditions through the new labour hire company that wins the contract. Slightly different issue but workers of today paying for the sins and excesses of union negotiators past.

  3. Warm bods to buy apartments using loans from Westpac. That is what it is all about. Global talent…. bwahahaha

    • Charles MartinMEMBER

      A Department of Home Affairs spokesperson said that bringing Australians home was the Federal Government’s “priority”.
      hmm, yeah, nah, teh priority is the ponzi, let’s not kid ourselves here.

      • I expect the ABC news will tonight call out Scomo on this… if not then we know we’ve truly lost our ABC !

  4. Concerns about security are mounting following a huge influx of Iranians on the visas an thousands more of their countrymen on separate business innovation and skilled migrant visas.

    And whoosh, there goes any chance of a sensible discussion based on the actual data above.

    (Which is, of course, the point.)

    • NoodlesRomanovMEMBER

      I didn’t know about the ‘business innovation’ visas until, and I am not shipping you, my Uber driver told me all about his. All he had to do was buy a block of land in a regional area with something vaguely approaching a plan to improve it, and there you have it, he’s meeting the benchmarch for business innovation, which to be honest is about as innovative as most Aussies are in the last 20 years.

    • The point of the article is that even the migrant guestworker intake on so called tiny sliver ‘skilled visa’ category – say only 76,000 primary of the 160,000 skilled & dependent / within a total 2.4 million TR, SCV & TV or (0.03%) of the total… well even they are ‘unskilled’.

      Yet another example of our corrupted visa system & broken border controls in the flooding of Australia with non assimilating third world migrants who destroy Australia society.

      The article Iranian reference (thousands on Iranians on pretext visas) although not to the flow of the article.. is based on fact.
      US & UK / Eu barriers on Iranians, so diverted into Australian to take advantage of broken visa system plus corruption in the Australia visas being issued in Iran.

      Easy access into Australia with falsified identities, falsified health checks, falsified documents, falsified partnerships, falsified business ventures / regional / rural / pretext student courses / tourist to protection visa etc – every visa category top to bottom is rorted.

      What actually come in?
      China exports their Hukuo lowlife. 2nd and 3rd generation peasant internal illegals denied China tier 1 & tier 2 City residency, education and social services.
      The Chinese Government and their criminal syndicates actively collaborating to shift tens of millions of these Hukuo underclass in colonisation of other nations and for them to be that nations social and economic burden.

      Taiwan, Korea and Japan, export of their vice Workers, pimps & misfits & criminal class.

      South East Asia – the abandoned mothers of Isan, their pimps, petty criminals and of course the hated Indians and Chinese from Malaysia & Indonesia.

      Indian mass export of their slumlife & rurals.

      Bangladesh & Nepal same – foreign remittance earners.

      Middle East – unskilled useless and ideologically non assimilating burden & chain migration.

      Africa – their war criminals who bribe their way to the front of the UN HCR queue in chain migration.

      South America the spawn of the San Paulo and similar criminal class.

      Can’t get into Australia directly or got kicked out?
      Re-enter via the NZ SCV loophole.

      That’s why 250,000 or nearly 40% of the so called NZ SCV in Australia are non NZ born third world unskilled lowlife that ‘NZ let’ into Australia.

  5. I’m on an E3 in the US. Limited to 10,000 (per annum and apparently always under subscribed ) renewed every 2 years and must be accompanied by a formal employer application each time. That includes posting the role formally for locals to respond. Keeps you honest and focused on the job. Also key proviso I can’t use it as an angle into green card.

      • Yes thanks doc – while Orange man was around and his willingness to change the rules without sense – i keep my head down. Thanks for the link BTW – why did you decline to increase the average IQ of both countries:-)

        • Yes, the Trump Factor would certainly have made things pretty uncertain.

          The company I was working for at the time was bought out by another, and they were relocating the main office (and a bunch of jobs, including mine) to Minneapolis (from Phoenix). They offered to sponsor me onto a GC as part of that (the people I referred to above were given the same offer and took it), but I was happy in Phoenix, with quite a few local mates who were staying, and the climate in Minneapolis is sh!te. Plus for us to stay long-term my wife would have had to go through a reasonably involved / expensive local re-certification process to be able to work as an Engineer, which she didn’t really want to do.

          But fundamentally, we came back because we wanted to have kids with family nearby (currently have two sets of grandparents and and aunty/uncle within ~10 minute drive).

          We came back in 2011 – I thought the hammer would fall within a couple of years and at least some semblance of a reset to sanity would occur. It’d be a rough 3-5 years but ca. end of 2010s things would be starting to look up. Fvck me, I got that one wrong. 🙁

          Ironically enough our number came up on the GC lottery (I put in every year just in case) in… 2017 I think it was… but you have to act on it (ie: fully relocate) within 18 months and basically commit to living in the US at least long enough to get citizenship – it just wasn’t feasible to do that with the circumstances we had (and still have) – kids, aging parents, etc, etc.

          Both those decisions (relocating back initially and letting the GC lottery go) involved a great deal of soul-searching. I am still not convinced we made the right decision, either time. America’s got its problems, to be sure, but the long-term outlook for Oz is looking pretty fvcking grim, especially for my kids.

          • Wow, thanks you for that. I have the same fear and am currently in Brisbane on a project after 2 weeks in Iso – seeing Australia now and all the denial is crazy – my kids are all looking internationally for their skills in Industrial design, manufacturing and product marketing. Unless you are part of the cabal, options are slim or depressing. I have grand children now and that’s even more worrying. For them I cant imagine Australia. Not being nostalgic either just pragmatic.
            Thanks again for sparing the time to respond. Appreciate it. By you a beer one day.

        • why did you decline to increase the average IQ of both countries

          drsmithy declined to move from Australia to USA and in doing so declined to increase the average IQ of both countries. How so?

          Since drsmithy is of below Australian average IQ, his leaving Australia would increase the average IQ of Australia.

          However, since USA average IQ is so far below Australian average IQ, even a below Australian average IQ person such as drsmithy moving to USA would increase the average IQ of USA.

          Congratulations Daniel, I wish I had thought-up that subtle way of insulting drsmithy and the USA.

  6. Meanwhile a good friend of mine, Australian born and in her 50’s and her American born husband of two years in his 60’s have had to jump through endless hoops and ongoing expenses for him to get permanent residency.