How Australia And New Zealand Visa Policies Spell Bad Luck To SA Travelers


South Africans planning migrate to Australia through the well-known temporary work visa system will no longer be able to do so following a new plan by the Australian government to tighten visa applications for foreigners.

The Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull  announced his plans to abolish the long used temporary visa system and increase the standards of its citizenship test with immediate effect, in an effort to promote “Australia first” values.

In his press briefing on Thursday, Prime minister Turnbull said candidates wishing to gain Australian citizenship will henceforth be required to be permanent residents for at least four years as against the one year earlier given.

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Added to this, the candidate will also have to be a competent English speaker, show a job record and prove they are well integrated into the local community.

This, according to him is to ensure that all citizen are given equal rights.

“We’re defined by commitment to common values, political values, the rule of law, democracy, freedom, mutual respect, equality for men and women,” Turnbull said in the televised press conference

“These fundamental values are what make us Australian. Our citizenship process should reflect that.”

Turnbull’s comment about improving the citizenship standards comes days after he announced his plans to abolish the country’s temporary 457 work visa programme in order to focus more on creating jobs for Australian citizens first.

Reports have it that Australia’s unemployment rate has now reached a 14-month high, rising to 5.9% in February, widely missing expectations of a flat rate of 5.7%

The total number of employed citizens fell by 6,400 last month with the market forecasting a rise of 15,000 in the following months. To this, economists say the fall in employment is a “little worrying” because it comes after modest employment growth in December and January.

The underemployment rate – workers who are employed but are willing to work more hours – returned last month to a record high 8.7%, or 1.1m workers. It shows there is considerable slack in the labour market, with wages growth likely to remain subdued for a number of years

To address this issue, Premier Turnbull said the 457 visa now used by about 95,000 foreign workers, will be replaced by a new temporary visa and the list of occupations that qualify for a visa will be reduced by more than 200.

Like in Australia, government in New Zealand said it will be taking a leaf from its neighbour’s visa policy as a measure to further decrease the rising unemployment rate in the country.

New Zealand said it will drastically tighten all access to its skilled work visa by requiring a minimum income and setting limitations on seasoned workers.

“These changes are designed to strike the right balance… and encourage employers to take on more Kiwis and invest in the training to up-skill them,” said Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse who also added that the new decision would be implemented in 2017.

How It Affects South Africa

Looking at how these new policies will affect South Africans migrating to these two countries, business tech reported StatsSA’s Community Survey 2016 as saying that over a quarter (26%) of all South Africans emigrating from the country left to Australia compared to 25% leaving for the UK, 13.4% leaving for the United States and 9.5% leaving for New Zealand.

Thus as a result of the short time frame in which the changes were implemented, a number of South African citizens currently in the process of applying for a visa or citizenship will be abandoned having already spent thousands of rands on applications and the emigration process.

Like in Australia, New Zealand’s unemployment has jumped to 5.2 per cent at the end of 2016 as job market brought more into workforce.

According to report from the country, quarterly household labour force survey showed that while the number of people employed rose by 19,000 in the final three months of the 2016, the overall labour force rose by 29,000.

Read Also: It’s Official – SA Still Needs Visa To Travel To The US

The expansion in the labour force represents both arrivals from overseas, new people reaching the working age of 15, as well as people whose circumstances change which mean they are now actively seeking work or are employed.

Economists had expected unemployment to drop to a fresh eight year low of 4.8 per cent, but instead the number of unemployed people rose by 10,000 to 139,000.