Scomo quietly explodes IT migrants

Via ITNews:

The federal government has expanded the scope of Australia’s fledgling permanent migration scheme for highly-skilled technologists after tripling the program’s intake for this financial year.

The change is contained in new direction for the two feeder visas used for the ‘Global Talent Independent’ (GTI) program – subclass 858 and subclass 124 – quietly issued last month.

The direction (direction 89) replaces an earlier one outlining the target sectors for the GTI program when it was first launched in November 2019 to attract tech talent from across the globe.

The program initially focused on finding applicants likely to earn more than $153,600 each year in one of seven “future-focused fields”, including cyber security, fintech and quantum computing.

But as the new direction reveals, the government is now accepting applicants from 10 target sectors that cover far more ground than the original set of definitions.

New target sectors of note are education, tourism and the “circular economy”, while the remaining seven areas are largely an expansion of the original seven.

The remaining seven sectors are resources; agri-food and agtech; energy; health industries; defence, advanced manufacturing and space; digitech; and financial services and fintech.

They are broadly similar to the former fields, with ‘digitech’ seemingly covering what was previous ‘quantum information, advanced digital, data science and ICT, as well as cyber security.

A spokesperson told iTnews that the expanded sectors would “maximise opportunities” to sustain the country’s economic growth, while building resilience for future global shocks and creating jobs.

“Priority sectors have been identified to ensure that Australia’s investment priorities are focused to align with opportunities that support our post Covid-19 economic recovery,” the spokesperson said.

But according to Ruobing Yang, a legal practitioner director at specialist immigration law firm Ashton Legal, comprehensive details of the changes, including which skillsets fall into each sector, remain scarce

“We don’t have the details for direction 89 target sectors yet,” he told iTnews.

“Under direction 85, Immigration has a fact sheet for each sector which then breaks it down into very detailed skillsets.

“So I’m hoping that they will release another fact sheet which will be about to tell us … in education, what are the specific skillsets they’re looking for.”

GTI intake boosted to 15,000

Changes to the scheme’s scope come just months after the GTI cap was increased to 15,000 places, three times the 5000 target intake during the scheme’s first year in 2019-20.

The government had previously indicated that the scheme would be central to a shake-up of its permanent migration program, driven largely by the coronavirus pandemic and recent upheaval in Hong Kong.

A total of 4109 people were granted GTI visas from 5923 expressions of interests (EOIs) over the first seven months, despite initially struggling to attract applicants, as revealed by iTnews.

But as recently released freedom of information (FOI) documents [pdf] show, more than 5500 EOIs have already been lodged for the scheme so far this financial year (as at 31 October).

This has subsequently seen processing times for EOIs blow out at the Department of Home Affairs from an average of 28 days in May to 136 days in October [pdf].

Despite the increased quota, Yang said that the 15,000 visas would be inclusive of “all the secondary applications as well”, including partners and children.

“So the actual numbers would be quite a bit lower. The main applicants that they invite would be way less than 15,000, but I’m sure the quota will be filled up,” he said.

He also noted that around 30 percent of EOIs were being issued to people working in ICT to date, many of whom already hold working visas, including at some of the largest IT outsourcers.

“Some of the largest IT companies, particularly HCL and Tata, they don’t in principle sponsor people for a permanent visa,” he said.

“So when this Global Talent visa came out, I assisted with quite a few applicants that are already working in this field.

“They knew that there’s no pathways for employee nominated visas and for independent skilled migration it’s getting increasingly difficult, so a lot of them are going through this Global Talent [visa].”

Figures released by Home Affairs [pdf] appear to confirm this, with the largest number of EOIs approved in 2019-20 in the former “quantum information, advanced digital, data science and ICT sector”.

I have no issues with so long as the base salary provisions remain in place but, as the article suggests, details are scarce which does not reassure.

If the salary floor is reduced then it will only add to what is already a running joke in IT.

The Australian Population Research Institute’s (APRI) 2017 report entitled “Immigration overflow: why it matters”, examined the widespread rorting of Australia’s 457 visa system, especially by Indian IT firms.

One of the findings from this report was “the high and increasing numbers of IT professionals being granted 457 visas”, which “constitute by far the largest occupation group within the 457 program”. You will also see from the below table that permanent migrants are heavily represented in the IT space:

ScreenHunter_16433 Dec. 02 07.28

The APRI showed that Indian IT service companies have been successful in winning a major chunk of Australia’s IT consulting work on the basis of these 457 visa holders, partly because they are paying them much lower salaries than the market rate for IT professionals in Australia:

As Table 2 shows, some 76 per cent of the 7,542 457 visas issued in the three IT occupations listed were to Indian nationals. The great majority of these were sponsored by Indian IT service companies as intra-company transferees…

ScreenHunter_16434 Dec. 02 07.34

Once in Australia their staff are being paid at much lower rates than experienced resident IT professionals and in some cases even new local graduates.

Even more disturbing is the relatively high proportion of these Indian IT professionals (28 per cent) whose 457 visas were approved at the extremely low base salary of $53,900 or less. This is despite the fact that only eight per cent of the 457 visas granted to Indians in the two ICT occupations in 2014-15 were aged less than 25.

The median starting salary for local ICT graduates under the age of 25 is around $54,000. Coincidentally, the 457 minimum salary ‘floor’ is set at $53,900…

The report also showed how the biggest sources of migrants (both temporary and permanent) – IT, accounting and engineering professionals – are also the areas with the biggest surplus of workers, thus debunking the view that foreign workers are required to overcome skills shortages:

ScreenHunter_16436 Dec. 02 07.49

The Department of Employment also illustrated that 457 visas grew much faster than the growth in IT jobs, despite a large pool of applicants available per advertised job and large numbers of IT graduates being unable to gain full-time employment:

A key feature of the IT labour market is the large number of candidates competing for available vacancies. There were, on average, around 29 applicants per surveyed vacancy and most employers were able to choose between multiple suitable applicants (an average of 3.1 per surveyed vacancy)…

Notably, a number of employers recruiting for graduate or junior level vacancies had applicants who they considered to be overqualified for the advertised position….

While 457 visa grant numbers for IT professionals are variable over time, grants have been generally trending upwards since 2005-06 (when the data series began).

The number of IT professional 457 visa holders is increasing at a faster rate than the number of employed IT professionals. In 2009-10, the number of 457 visa holders equated to 3.0 per cent of employed IT professionals, but by 2014-15 it had risen to 4.3 per cent…

A range of data suggests that there is some spare capacity in the graduate labour market at present. Notably, graduate outcomes for students studying in the field of Computer Science (which includes the vast majority of students studying in the Information Technology field of education) have been declining for four consecutive years…

In 2015, 67 per cent of computer science graduates were in full-time employment four months after graduation, below the average of 69 per cent for all graduates. Graduate outcomes are now 17 percentage points below the level recorded in 2008 (84 per cent).

It is clear that Australia’s IT sector was one of the most heavily abused by Australia’s ‘skilled’ migration system, given the large number of temporary and permanent foreign workers employed in the sector.

Indeed, the scam was so rife, that businesses managed to turn labour costs into a profit centre:

NICK MCKENZIE: In a series of conversations, the visa fixer asked Jasvinder Sidhu to find new visa applicants among his friends and family back in India. The fixer would then arrange for a corrupt employer to provide the paperwork for a fake job and visa sponsorship.

JASVINDER SIDHU: They were offering multiple sponsorships in commercial cookery, in mechanics, IT as well because he said his boss could arrange 457 in IT – information technology.

NICK MCKENZIE: The visa scam came as little surprise to Jasvinder Sidhu. He knows of many Indians who’ve paid large cash sums to corruptly obtained skilled or student visas in an effort to get permanent residency.

JASVINDER SIDHU: I’ve been hearing it eight, nine years and the last time I heard was last week when somebody paid $45,000 cash.

NICK MCKENZIE: Now Sidhu is determined to expose what he’s learned about Australia’s immigration underworld.

JASVINDER SIDHU: These people will then create your fake timesheets, fake pay slips and they will pay in your bank account and obviously everything else will also be fake, which is superannuation and other related documents.

NICK MCKENZIE: So you’re paying for a fake, a phantom job and in return you get your skilled visa?

JASVINDER SIDHU: Yes. So you are paying extra to get or create a job which doesn’t exist and to create a service which was never delivered and you’re getting permanent residency, which is not fake. This is a real output…

Yes, there’s corruption from top to bottom. Thousands and thousands of people are being sponsored and they’re all fake. The whole system cannot work that smoothly if there’s no corruption in the system.

NICK MCKENZIE: Someone on the inside has to know?

JASVINDER SIDHU: Oh, yes, definitely. Even if you do a bit of overspeeding, you are caught, but this is a huge corruption – huge level of corruption and it is so widespread.

As you would expect, indeed predict, the monstrous oversupply crushed the training of locals given falling wages and no prospects.

Specialist IT visas for highly-skilled migrants are a good idea. The above rubbish is not.

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


  1. Jonathan Rubenstein

    My (NASDAQ listed) company is currently importing Vietnamese software engineers. HR can get the visa approved in under two hours just by filling in forms on Department of Home Affairs’ web site.

    No proof of skill shortage, skills or salary required for software engineers.

      • kierans777MEMBER

        And thanks to the use of agencies to have an arm’s length to the process, the actual workers are getting screwed over with complete deniability.

    • Good ol’ Atlassian, domiciled in the UK and listed in the US, but still the media’s favourite poster boy for an “Australian” high tech success story.

  2. I wonder if this Global Talent visa is exempt from border restrictions due to Australia’s desperate need for such talent ?

  3. “I have no issues with so long as the base salary provisions remain in place but,”

    “The program initially focused on finding applicants likely to earn more than $153,600 each year in”
    “Likely to earn” doesn’t sound like any sort of actual requirement to me.

    • Maybe if they just paid the skilled locals “more that “153,600” a year they would not have the skills shortage… and spend money training talented people to fill that skills gap… Its not about skill shortages, its overall about wage reduction.

    • Shades of MessinaMEMBER


      I could say that I am “likely” to pick up Charlize Theron in a bar but there is a snowball’s chance in hell of that ever happening.

    • reusachtigeMEMBER

      I’m ok with this. What it’s saying is that instead of having to pay someone 150k/year you can bring a far superior person in on a basic wage. That’s good!

    • If the Govt is so confident about this, they should take the income tax in advance. How much is it on 150k? 50k tax + 15k super. Take that and let them pay what they like.

  4. Christopher Kennett

    No diversity no gender equality on that intake.

    Set diversity (maximum 10% from any one country) and gender equality (maximum 49% males from any one country on any visa type) quotas and these schemes might be OK.

  5. Tata, they don’t in principle sponsor people for a permanent visa

    No need for permanent immigration after all.

    • Shades of MessinaMEMBER

      They won’t sponsor it because the employees will walk straight out the door once they are no longer tied.

  6. Display NameMEMBER

    Australia is the third or fourth choice destination for Indian IT workers. We get the Indian Third tier university graduates. As a generalisation, they can almost spell technology. Sure they are cheap, and that is for a reason, And sure this is a generalisation, but far too many of them are far too average to be called competent. I always phone interview to start the hiring process. This ensures the language skills are good enough to be understood over the phone and sadly, even after an alleged recruitment company vetting, that the candidate understands the basics of the technologies they will need to work with. This usually only results in one in five making a face to face.

    A friend of mine was CTO of a fairly large (listed) US tech firm. He restructured the Indian side of the business and only hired from a set of first tier universities. The others just were not worth the effort with some rare exceptions.

    Having said all this, its true, why would you go into IT in Australia. This article just emphasises the fact we just don’t want to train anyone anymore. We are not serious about anything, anymore except short cuts and rorting / corruption . This is where most energy appears to go.

    • GunnamattaMEMBER

      This…..Why are we not training our own?

      It wouldnt be difficult to do, it would support education, it would ensure necessary skills are about

      …..only it wouldnt support the population ponzi…

        • Short answer is don’t do IT. The extra competition should be that hard to stay ahead of if you’re decent but the wages get driven down so much it’s probably not worth it unless you have niche skills.

          • Those niche skills are the ones they already know about, and want to import as shown in the article (security, AI, etc). Unlike other professions like doctors and tradies governments and big business do know what they will need, take the time to find out, pay consultancies to keep them informed constantly and plan in advance to boost migration in those areas before it becomes a problem. I won’t advice my kids to take up a STEM orientated job in this country.

            Let’s face it – the government and big business see IT as a highly paid cost centre which goes against all their “MBA” training despite the fact that it is a project orientated job with deadlines, stress and often risk. They want to pummel these “techies” to the place they belong; in many organisations the tech person who can talk to the business and innovates can be seen as a threat to the decision makers and a “key man risk”. No – better make them the grunt worker while they make all the decisions.

      • It’s not hard, we used to do it. The motive now is about saving those training costs and paying lower wages.

    • Of all the Indian developers I have worked with there has been only a couple that I would tip my hat to and say they are better than me. Most are quite ordinary. Nice enough and compliant but generally not go getters and are more concerned with image than actual substance.
      The only reason for needing them is based purely on laziness of companies who don’t want to train/hire local graduates and want to pay the lowest wage.

      • kierans777MEMBER

        There are some gems out there, but mostly the people hired aren’t competent. The real downside is for customers, especially at Big Banks or other T1 companies. We often have to suffer through subpar software, that only waste our time and time/money of the business to rectify. I’ve built software that is still running 12+ years in a major corporation servicing tens of thousands of customers a day with no hiccups. Then in another corporation who hired a bunch of Indian developers I’ve had to hand hold because they simply have not had the education or experience needed. But they are cheap.

  7. I can’t recall an Indian IT guy with overseas qualifications who knew anything about his role. They are universally hopeless.

    One dude I recently rejected had a fake degree from a fake uni in Pakistan that had been shut down by the Pakistani gummint for corruption, which is an achievement in itself.

    • For balance: I was on the panel for a database dev from the sub continent.
      He is outstanding.

  8. blindjusticeMEMBER

    Not sure skilled migration is such as good idea for occupations with such high graduate unemployment rates. Invest in your own first and get the rates back to 1980s rates…………

  9. The fed broke it. Now, they own it.MEMBER

    The subcontinent makes up say 3% of Australia’s population but 70% of all IT workers. It’s gotten so bad that often I am the only anglo guy on the team. On several occasions l have lodged discrimination claims against subcontinent consultants and Australian organisations.

    • I see there same in every IT department I walk into. Even government projects these days. Xmas before last, all the out of office replies came back with Indian mobile numbers on them.

    • A lot of companies are now going down the woke / diversity path with regards to employing people.
      However as you say IT is 3/4 Indians.
      As an ‘white’ dude I am definitely a minority and just waiting for the diversity quotas for ‘white’ people to start helping me land a job (I won’t hold my breath)

  10. “The report also showed how the biggest sources of migrants (both temporary and permanent) – IT, accounting and engineering professionals – are also the areas with the biggest surplus of workers, thus debunking the view that foreign workers are required to overcome skills shortages.” What this actually shows is we have many migrants who apply but who are well short of the skills required to do the job so we should stop bringing them in. I receive many “skilled migrant” CV’s for job ads but almost all are well short of the mark on skills or local knowledge requirements.

  11. Australia needs to import tech talent because all of its top talent goes overseas where it gets paid what it’s actually worth.
    Even though it’s fubar’d here in California, we decided to ride the pandemic out here as I have a very well paid job that I can’t do from Australia and my wife’s qualifications aren’t recognised in Australia.
    If we were to make the move we’d be taking at least a 50% cut in remuneration.

    • Display NameMEMBER

      At the very top end yes salaries in the states are better. My experience in Aus is that if you want a contractor that can think, code and communicate, those skills *start* at $1000 as day. Less than that and you are unlikely to get all three. And by communicate I mean talk to the business on their terms.

    • Not really. It never used to before the massive boom. IT salaries were considered pretty good in the 2000’s and earlier – contractors were paid similar to what they are now for example ($800 a day). I know some good ones that are stuck here for whatever reason (family ties, lifestyle , look abroad and think its worse in the US, etc)

      Australian culture has a lot to do with this, as much as we don’t want to admit it. Our educated professionals (scientists, etc) are often treated like the “nerds” they are and paid peanuts – but my local tradie/patio installer is making more than $150k and doesn’t declare all of the tax either. Not saying that’s great, but for the responsibility/reward ratio its probably a better deal.

      Of course we don’t import those because that shortage only affects households trying to build and repair their homes, not really governments and corporations. Nurses, IT professionals, etc… you know people that its worth lobbying the government to import more of. The real “shortages” of course lie elsewhere, but often those professionals have very little incentive to lobby for more of themselves – and those labour forces tend to be more organised (e.g. doctors, construction unions, etc).

      The attitude I’ve seen amongst IT staff of “but if your good you don’t have to worry” and their ego’s about their skills also doesn’t help their own plight in the long term. Making the grunt’s salary less affects the whole ladder all the way to the top – after all most promotions only come with a percentage of salary. And of course most work in the industry doesn’t take a senior either (standard business software) so not everyone can earn those dollars even if everyone “gets good”.

  12. If you import from a society that has high corruption, discrimination based on caste’, large gap between rich and poor, several layers of poor, shocking governance etc why would you expect them to suddenly be an asset to Australia?

  13. Shades of MessinaMEMBER

    I think it’s less about the nationality than the strata of the society you are attracting punters from.

    You would have the same issues with bulk low-rung Brazilian, Nigerian, American, Irish etc migration. God knows a bulk exodus of Aussie bogans to any location would be a disaster (eg. Bali).

    Australia doesn’t attract the same level of highly educated and skilled punters than the US or UK does because we are perceived as a Pacific backwater with minimal opportunities.

  14. Poochie the Rockin DogMEMBER

    What’s happened in IT will happen to more areas in the future as software plays a bigger role/automates people out of their jobs. It’s ridiculous that we try to lower salaries in an area that’s so important for the future. But for existing programmers all this competition is actually a good thing – as it’s almost impossible for local juniors to get into employment – the number of skilled locals hardly increases/decreases with every year, so for jobs that aren’t taken by Indian consulting companies, locals can command ever higher salaries. The companies are shooting themselves in the foot by not training.

    • Display NameMEMBER

      There is some truth to this. Very tough for kids starting out though. How do they cut through the noise.

      My advice for a starter interested more in the engineering side would be to contribute to an open source project. Resumes with links to good GitHub/bitbucket projects will always get more attention.

      • kierans777MEMBER

        Agreed. I skip most of the resume, especially if it’s from an agency. If however I can find a GitHub project, and read the persons commits I can gauge the rest from there. I’ve found some excellent Devs that way only to be scuttled when the business refused to pay fair wages.

  15. What are local IT people supposed to do?
    I have an IT degree and 3 years web dev experience (but not the ‘right’ experience I guess), but I can’t even get a low paid entry level IT job.
    If I’m not good enough for IT, well I wouldn’t mind stacking shelves at Coles, but I applied and can’t get that either. I just want a job!
    I’ll probably have to become an Uber driver or package deliverer once I get my full license.

    If companies are going to consign people to unemployment by refusing to hire and train lower level local employees, the government really needs to put in some sort of adequate payment for those who cannot find a job. Jobkeeper as a sole trader has been very good, they should pay the original $750/week rate permanently, I’d be happy to live on that. Atlassian and all these IT companies that don’t pay tax can help pay the cost.

  16. I'll have anotherMEMBER

    During the last 15 years I have seen Australian Universities offering degrees in Land Surveying drop like flies.

    QLD now only has has a single University where one can study Land Surveying, down from 3. This is now true for most states except Vic (2) and NSW (2).

    The ones that still offer, nearly all have dropped enrolments.

    This is not because of a lack of requirement for Land Surveyors, with only a few hundred registered, Cadastral Land Surveyors in the state of QLD, controlling, maintaining and creating every boundary in the state.

    This level of registered Cadastral Land Surveyor is where the skill shortage exists, however the government sees fit to import many hundreds of overseas technicians which are not required, they simply agree to work for far less money, allowing larger consultants (read: labour hire firms) to import and farm these immigrants out at a ridiculous rate which chokes industry. The most famous of these, ASX listed Veris, has been unable to make a profit for the last 5 years or so. The “Surveyors” themselves are mostly awful. More like labourers who know what buttons to push in what order and no theoretical understanding.

    This importation of surveyors has severely affected the quality of surveying provided on site, driven down wages in a major way, which indirectly caused the closing of many higher end institutions.

    The blame for the destruction of this industry lands wholy and solely at the feet of government with their ridiculous immigration programs.

  17. If there was a huge shortage, tech wages would have risen markedly over the last 10 years. They have dropped, and thats before inflation. Big business dictates migration policy for what they want to be cheap. Based on levels of overpayment, we need to import a lot more dentists, tradies etc.

    • Exactly. Tech wages have pretty much stayed the same or fallen for the past 10 years from people I know working in it locally. So much for “job of the future”.

      • Exactly, i always laugh when they say you have to get your kid coding. Why? Funnily enough, roles like change manager are overpaid and this takes no discernible skill as far as i can make out. As it requires people skills and good english its not diluted by indians.