Australia’s Temporary Visa Holders Seek Easier Permanent Residency Pathways

Many temporary visa holders living in Australia are struggling to obtain permanent residency, despite living in the country for years and pursuing multiple degrees and switching visas. According to a report, temporary visa holders make up 7% of the Australian workforce. The Grattan Institute estimates there were 1.5 million temporary visa holders in Australia in January 2022, compared to nearly 2 million before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2019.

These temporary migrants include working holidaymakers, skilled temporary residents, New Zealand citizens, international students, and seasonal workers, among others. Many of these individuals have made Australia their home and are eager to secure permanent residency. However, experts warn that there are no guarantees for these individuals.

One individual, Krishna Kumar, a network analyst by profession, applied for a permanent visa in 2018 through the employer nomination scheme, but was refused in 2020. He later lodged an appeal for review with the Administrative Appeals Tribunals (AAT), which was also rejected in July 2020. “It’s been a difficult and daunting journey,” says Kumar. “It is impractical for a person who has been living in a country for over 14 years to move back home or to another country and restart his life.”

In October last year, the Albanese government introduced new skilled visa processing priorities for offshore applicants with a promise of easier permanent residency pathways in select sectors to plug the country’s critical labor shortages. However, many skilled and qualified workers onshore are still struggling to secure permanent visas, which are awarded based on a points system calculated based on factors including education, work experience, English language skills, and age.

Ishvinder Singh Maan, another individual who came to Australia on a student visa eight years ago to pursue a diploma in IT, echoes Kumar’s sentiment. “But in early 2022, I received a refusal, and I was asked to leave the country by September 2022. But I couldn’t go back to India because there were hardly any flights due to the COVID lockdown,” says Maan.

The struggle for temporary visa holders to obtain permanent residency is a complex issue that raises questions about the fairness of the process and the treatment of individuals who have made Australia their home.

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