08 November 2011

Australian immigration reaching out to the regions

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) will continue its outreach program this month, visiting the New England region to explain the Australian visa and immigration system to regional stakeholders.

Australia visa application

Immigration officials will visit the New England region of NSW this month to discuss visa issues with local communities.

Residents and employers in the New England region of New South Wales will get the next opportunity to discuss any Australian immigration matters with DIAC officials, including possible queries about hiring foreign labour or sponsoring an Australia visa.

Outreach officers will visit the remote region as part of an intended departmental program.

"The department’s regional visits program was established to allow people outside the capital cities access to experienced immigration officers to discuss their particular issues," said a DIAC statement released today.

"While the department has a lot of information available over the phone or on our website, some people may not be aware of recent policy changes or they may prefer to speak to an officer in person. These visits meet those needs."

DIAC has indicated there is demand for a program of this kind in New England and regional Australia more broadly.

"People in regional communities have a wide variety of immigration questions, ranging from the skilled migration program, which helps small business owners who can’t find experienced local staff, to issues for overseas students or people who want to enquire about sponsorship of family members," a departmental spokesman said.

Many Australian visa holders - particularly working holiday makers - opt to undertake employment in the regions, often in the agricultural sector. Others who have entered Australia via the skilled stream migration program, may have been targeted specifically to a region based on skills shortages and other local factors.

As a result, immigration is an increasingly hot topic in regional communities as migrant populations increase outside of Australia's urban capitals.

Beyond its consultation with employers and local stakeholders, the department is also reaching out to recent migrants to New England.

"The department particularly wants to encourage people who have been residents of Australia for a long time to consider taking the final step in their immigration journey by becoming an Australian citizen," the statement said.

Outreach officers will be available in Moree on November 15 from 9am to 11.30am; Inverell on November 15 from 2pm - 4pm; Armidale on November 16 from 9am-4pm; Tamworth on November 17 from 9am-2pm; and Singleton on November 18 from 11am-1pm. Private consultations can be arranged. Interested parties are urged to contact their local MP or the department for more information.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people emigrate to Australia and lodge applications with the Australian High Commission.

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