Wanted Down Under - reality dross or recommended viewing?

by Lauren 8/29/2008 7:16:00 AM

Regardless of your situation, when you're in the midst of lodging a visa application, it can sometimes be difficult to keep a perspective on your situation and see your visa grant as a tangible reality. Even with the support of a migration agent, there's always the possibility that a new life in Australia can feel further away than it actually is.

With this in mind, it's refreshing to see the return of the BBC's Wanted Down Under, which is currently being repeated on BBC2 on weekdays at 5:15 PM. Not only does it show the light at the end of the tunnel by showcasing the gorgeous locations of Australia, it doesn't shy away from exploring the difficulties that the average Brit family faces as they pursue a new life Down Under.

I've always found that the best option to take with clients is to be completely honest and upfront about the visa process. While on paper it can seem like a straightforward application, there are often hidden hurdles, and Wanted Down Under is a programme that goes beyond the simple aspirational melodrama of other relocation shows.

In a time when television is undergoing something of a 'crisis of faith', we can testify to the validity of the subjects featured in Wanted Down Under, as some of the show's 'stars' in the first series were Visa Bureau clients. What's more, we're delighted to report that they've since successfully made the switch and are now happy Australian residents.

Also, the programme does well in acknowledging that 'Down Under' doesn't just mean Australia; the second series also follows Brits as they look to emigrate to New Zealand, making it ideal for any Kiwi-minded migrants.

Tune in for yourself to see it, or catch up on the BBC iPlayer - it's definitely worth your while!

- Lauren Mennie is the Casework Department Manager for the Australian Visa Bureau.

.NET developers .Needed Down Under .Now

by Tom 8/28/2008 7:49:00 AM

News reports continually remind us that IT professionals are in short supply across the globe, so it shouldn’t be too surprising to learn that Australia is one of the countries keen to lure new tech-minded individuals to their shores. However, the addition of the 'Computing Professional - .NET technologies' occupation classification to Australia's Migration Occupations in Demand List (MODL) gives the indication that they're finally getting a bit smarter about enticing a broader range of developers and programmers.

The MODL is essentially a list of the occupations which are part of the country's ongoing national skills shortage, with workers in any of the listed occupations awarded extra points and put on the Australia visa fast-track. Simply put, there are few better indications that you're all set to migrate to Australia than having your occupation feature on the MODL. Historically speaking, the MODL has always featured a fairly broad range of IT-centric occupations… unless you were a .NET programmer / developer.

Some headway was made in rectifying this with the introduction of the occupation classification of ‘Computing Professional - specialising in C++ / C# / C’ in September, 2006. All very nice for those with C# experience, but not much use to programmers using any other .NET language.

However, with May's MODL addition of 'Computing Professional – specialising in .NET technologies', Australia's doors were finally flung open to .NET programmers of all shapes and sizes. Many Visual Basic.NET programmers, as well as those specialising in less common .NET languages like PerlNET and IronPython now have a path to the 'gold standard' of Australian permanent visas – the Skilled Independent visa (subclass 175).

So, if you’re a programmer working with .NET on a day-to-day basis, then chances are you’re 'in demand' by Australia. Certainly something to feel warm and fuzzy about, right?

- Tom Blackett is the Online Editor for the Australian Visa Bureau, and has a compulsion to make bad puns in blog titles

TRA Stalls Again on Pathway D Alternative

by Andy 8/26/2008 5:57:00 AM

It's difficult to restrain my disappointment with The TRA: Trades Recognition Australia.  Almost a year ago, the TRA announced the closure of Skilled Pathway D, which gave skilled tradespeople without formal qualifications a pathway through the skills assessment stage of the Australian skilled migration programme.

To me, Pathway D was an integral part of the migration programme.  It met the insatiable demand for skilled tradespeople in Australia, and allowed thousands of experienced workers from the UK to make the move down under.  The closure of Pathway D, without warning or consultation, came as a body blow to industry in Australia and to thousands of families in the UK.  Australian industries lost a source of dedicated, highly skilled workers, and families saw their plans to establish themselves in Australia delayed indefinitely.

Earlier in the summer, the TRA announced that they would begin to implement a replacement to Pathway D on September 1 with their new Migration Assessment Policy (MAP).  We were extremely excited at the prospect, as it would allow thousands of families to get their visa applications back on track and to start making long-term decisions about moving to Australia.

The TRA has once again thrown these lives into disarray by delaying their implementation.  They have postponed their announcement about implementing MAP indefinitely, without any explanation or indication of when we can expect more information.

I am appalled at the TRA for its apparently blasé attitude towards the thousands of people who they have left to twist in the wind by delaying their announcement.  Families who want to make the move down under need concrete information in order make decisions that affect the rest of their lives. The TRA is making this heartbreakingly difficult.

This appalling attitude is demonstrated by the TRA's complete lack of transparency or explanation.  They did not give a concrete reason as to why they closed Pathway D and they did not give detailed information about its replacement.  Now they have delayed the implementation of a replacement without explanation or any indication of how much longer families will have to wait.

Many would-be emigrants face a difficult choice: to pursue the long road to skills qualification through a different pathway, or to wait out the TRA and hope for a positive announcement in the next few months.  The TRA is directly responsible for forcing families into this stressful situation.  The Australian Visa Bureau staff will do their best to ease the stress that this decision may place on our clients by providing as much information and help as we can.

I sincerely hope that the TRA to task for explanations and more information.  I look forward to the day when we can help the thousands of families affected by this fiasco to realise their dreams of a new life in Australia.

- Andy Harwood is the CEO of the Australian Visa Bureau.