Shrinking Australia: the pressure on Chinese immigrants

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull raised the requirement to join Australian citizenship and further tightened the immigration regulations (Source: Sina Finance)

Australian Prime Minister Turnbull announced the abolition of the 475 temporary work visa on April 18, 2017, and two days later, he also announced Australian citizenship applications will be tightened.

Opinion about the shrinking immigration policy in Australia (Video: Alisha Huang)

Chinese group reaction

Wechat subscription account Sydtoday reported an essay on 6 May that said only two weeks after the announcement of the tightening of the immigration policy, Mr Yinxia Hu, one of the organisers of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Culture, was organising a meeting of the Australian Chinese 457 Visa Rights Alliance in the city centre of Sydney on May 6.

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Culture donation box and organiser of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Culture, Yinxia Hu (Source: Sydtoday)

Mr Yinxia Hu said to Sydtoday that he wanted to get support from the Chinese group, and hoped that the government could take into account the pressure on the Chinese community.

Australian SBS Broadcasting Company conducted an investigation interview on its official home page, into Chinese social media microblogging on 21 April. Many Chinese users left a message.

Microblogging on the Australian SBS Broadcasting Company “IELTS six points, live four years, to prove into the mainstream society #Australia tightened citizenship #What do you think? (Source: Australian SBS Broadcasting Company on Sina Weibo)

Microblogger @Ying-Middo says: “immigration time, immigration conditions, English examinations, values, we are talking about this, there may be no-one noticed that the government so suddenly attacked the policy of more harm! I just ready to prepare the material to mail out, they said it is unavailable since the 20th April, terrible luck. There is no time for me to wait two years for my PR, who should be responsible for this matter? ”

Another microblogger @ottozhou says: “Take a permanent resident visa need to pass IELTS 7 points, make citizen also through the same examination, do not know how the government think!”

Official Statistic

China ranked third on the Top 15 citizenship countries for applications granted in 2015-16 to 30 June 2016 by applicant type (Source: Department of Immigration and Border Protection of Subclass 457 quarterly report )

China, as one of the great sources of immigrants in Australia, undoubtedly will have groups affected in varying degrees.

I want to stay in Australia with my parents

Interview with Candy Fan, who has been affected by the shrinking immigration policy in Australia (Source: Alisha Huang)

Candy Fan, a student of Masters of Professional Accounting at the University of Sydney, says if she can stay in Australia on a skilled visa after the graduation, then she wants to find a job here.

“However, as I am the only child to take care of my parents, this decision will be more difficult for me. I certainly want to apply for immigration for my parents, I want to let my parents stay with me,” she said. “Concerning my profession, it is a part of professional immigrant, but the Chinese people are too much in Sydney, coupled with the current immigration policy changes. In fact, I feel both the pressure and competition in front of me. These difficulties are mainly reflected in time and money.”

“As the Government announced it would strengthen the requirements for becoming an Australian citizen. The most apparent change is that to join in the Australian citizenship, you need to exhibit at least 4 years of permanent residency before applying for citizenship.”

“Four years later, I will be 30 years old,” says Ms. Fan.

According to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s official website on  permanent residence – eligibility, applying for naturalisation of the living requirements changes from the original 12 months to 4 years; the applicant has to get 6 points of IELTS or enough language level; the subject of naturalisation examinations will significantly increase the subject of Australian values; and applicants must provide proof of integration into Australian society.

“As far as I know, there are two ways to ensure my parents to get PR (Permanent Resident). One is Parent visa (subclass 103),” Candy says. “I have learned from some immigration lawyers that this policy has a large number of queuing applications, one relative in my family spent ten years to got this visa for his parent.”

On the Department’s  official website of Parent visa (subclass 103), it says there can be long waiting times of up to 30 years before this visa is approved.

“Even if I know that there is always this policy, this is certainly unrealistic, my parents are getting older, and so cannot afford it,” Ms. Fan said. “So I can only choose another way, but the pressure is money.”

“Another way is Contributory Parent visa (subclass 143). In this case, my lawyer told me that I need a guaranteed $47,000 Australian dollars a person, one step to PR (Permanent Resident).”

“However, my parents cannot apply for benefits in ten years.”

NewStars Education Immigration reported an essay on 30 May that said the Australian Immigration Board said, in November this year, new parents long-term temporary visas would be implemented by the government. Only 15,000 places for immigrants a year. Three years of permit fee rises to $5000, five years visa to $10,000, five years after the expiration of the visa can continue five years (only one renewal opportunity), the renewal fee is $10,000. However, ten years after the expiry of the Visa, parents will not be able to continue to stay in Australia.

Ms. Fan says she is very conflicted though she knows immigration will be tough, she will try her best to accomplish the goal.

I am glad I have been able to stay in Australia

Lawrence Xie, a retail store manager of Telstra, had already obtained his permanent residency in 2013. He says he was organised and prepared all relevant documents throughout the entire migration process by himself, and migrated under the skilled independent program.

Photo of Lawrence Xie (Supplied: Lawrence Xie)

“Because I have experienced these processes, I know how difficult it is; I am glad I earlier had already completed the immigration,” he said. “Of course, the policy is constantly changing, the requirements of each person is gradually different.”

“With the changes in the requirements for applying for Australian citizenship, applicants are required to show their strong bond between themselves and the community which is the key aspect to becoming an Australian citizen.”

“People will need to spend more time residing in Australia on their permanent resident visa before they become eligible to apply and the increase in the difficulty of the citizenship test also ensures applicants fully understand Australian culture and its value.

“However, if people want to have access to some government-funded services, such as fee help for the university, they will be affected as such services are not available to non-citizens and people who haven’t resided in Australia on their permanent visa for four years or more will not be able to apply to become an Australian citizen.” Ms. Xie said.

“Before the new deal was out, some people were using the 457 program as a way to obtain permanent residency in Australia, and the applicants may not have had relevant skills. Or some businesses were revealed to have been paid to sponsor someone to work in Australia and then obtain a permanent resident visa. As the situation changes, they may need to re-plan the immigration plan.”

Ms. Xie says the current political background will certainly bring more challenges to Chinese immigrants.

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