I’ve tended not to blog here about my migration status in Australia, for reasons that are probably obvious. But to my great delight and relief, earlier this month I was sworn in as an Australian citizen .
The process, from tourist to citizen, wasn’t super-easy. However:
- it was a hell of a lot easier for me than for most would-be migrants to Australia because of my nationality, age, education/skill level and income/savings.
- it was a hell of a lot easier for me to do in Australia than it would be even for someone with my privileged status and position in most mid-to-high-income countries .
The first is obvious, I hope. My nationality and age gave me access to Australia’s Working Holiday Visa scheme, which gave me a year of almost-unrestricted work rights (and the option to have a one-off 12 months extension, if I took 90 days of manual labour in remote Australia during the first 12 months. EDIT: I chose not to do this and also not to pretend to the government that I had done it. This digression will become important later).
My education allowed me to navigate a complex system and was directly helpful for certain later migration hurdles, and my access to money allowed me to study at an Australian university, pay government fees, hire a migration agent, meet various other administrative costs, and pay living expenses during periods when my work rights were limited .
The second is perhaps more surprising to people who haven’t tried living across non-EU borders, especially if they’re aware of Australia’s barbaric offshore
concentration camps internment camps detention centres for refugees and reputation for being horrifically racist. But compared to most plausible countries outside the EU – certainly the US, Canada, Japan and Singapore – and to most EU countries for non-EU nationals, the path from arrival to Australian citizenship for a skilled migrant  is relatively easy.
My particular experience was more bureaucratically difficult than that of many skilled migrants, who are sponsored by an external employer, because I spent most of the time running my own business. In the US or UK, it would have been straight-up impossible for me to get a visa on this basis . In Australia, it was a complex and often expensive but entirely legitimate process, and I’m very grateful for it.
Why am I talking about all of this today? Because of this idiot, and his incompetent and dishonest boss, who amusingly ran a company named Disrupt.
In short, a UK citizen came to Australia on a Working Holiday visa and got a job working for a small technology company.
Once the 12 month period during which he was eligible to work in Australia was over, instead of moving to a legal visa class or leaving the country, he lied to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection that he had completed the 90 days of rural labour and was eligible for another 12 months.
All of this was done with his boss’s knowledge, and quite possibly (it reads from the piece) at the boss’s instigation.
Not unsurprisingly, during the second 12-month period, as he tried to return to Australia from a US business trip, DIBP discovered he was lying and deported him.
This would be a straight-up case of illegal immigration, carried out by someone nowhere near in dire enough financial or personal circumstances to justify it, even if it were true that he had no way of legally staying in the country in his status.
But the really particularly dumb and annoying thing is that he did.
The rules for which companies are eligible to sponsor staff for Class 457 skilled four-year employee visas are complicated, and the DIBP website doesn’t let you link directly to them, but they’re under the ‘sponsors’ tab here.
The very short version is that if you are a real company that isn’t taking the piss, and you can put documents together to show this, then you can sponsor staff for this visa, even if your company is a start-up. A quote from the website:
If your business is new, you can still satisfy this requirement [to be legally operating in Australia] if you can provide evidence that your business is in fact operating, even if this has been for only a short period of time.
I can confirm this is true because I’ve done it. The company had to provide a whole bunch of evidence that it was operating legally, that it had a business plan, that it had a plan to meet training benchmarks, that it paid any existing staff legal wages, and so on. Which it did.
Overall, achieving this required a 10-page document roughly equivalent to what you’d need to get a small business loan from a local bank to buy a van or a café, and took a couple of days to put together.
Meanwhile, at Disrupt (this is shown as a fact rather than a quote in the SMH article, but I’m 99% sure it’s verbatim from the company’s boss):
As a start-up, Disrupt is not recognised as a “business” under the Migration Act for the purpose of sponsoring skilled individuals on temporary work visas.
This just isn’t true. It is nonsense. It is made-up bollocks that any competent migration agent would have told the company was made-up bollocks, suggesting that the CEO didn’t even bother to get a migration agent’s advice before encouraging his deputy to go ahead with his hare-brained illegal scheme.
Which… well, as we’ve seen with many tech start-ups, particular in the financial sphere, tech bros are not exactly renowned for seeking the advice of local experts or for not launching hare-brained illegal schemes, are they?
Generally, but especially in the context of this post, I acknowledge and pay respect to the traditional owners of the land on which I live, the Wangal people of the Eora nation.
 And almost immediately, sworn at as an Australian citizen, because Twitter is glorious and this country is glorious.
 Except for EU ones, of course. Hurrah for the raging Brexit idiots who want to abolish their own right to do that and the rest of ours along with it.
 Paid working hours for full-time overseas students in Australia are limited to 20 per week.
 The largest sources of new skilled migrants in Australia are now China and India, with the UK in third place.
 Unless you have enough financial wealth to count as a wealthy investor, which in both cases is a hell of a lot more than I do.