Trump wants to model the US Immigration on Aussie lines… But then if he compares the H1B with 457. Will the Aussie system be still ideal?

“The current, outdated [US] system depresses wages for our poorest workers, and puts great pressure on taxpayers,” Mr Trump said.

“Nations around the world – like Canada, Australia and many others – have a merit-based immigration system.

“It is a basic principle that those seeking to enter a country ought to be able to support themselves financially.”

(In his first speech to a joint sitting of Congress, President Trump hailed Australia’s immigration rules and signalled he wanted to adopt a similar approach.)

If Trump is finding the Australian and Canadian refugee migration system as ideal, I am unsure. Just a few days earlier, Aussie PM and the US President had engaged in some discomforting discussions pertaining to refugee settlements. If the reference is more to Australia being difficult with family migration, I am once again not too sure as that has not been Trump’s focus. He has clearly identified unlawful entry and need to prioritise locals in employment.

To an un-informed, a simple reading of the Australian skill-based immigration point system will indicate that Australia has decided what skills it requires and then giving points on the basis of English, Age and experience (plus a few others), it invites the applicants. This sounds just ideal. And my biased opinion of Trump is that of him being largely uninformed on several issues.

Australia does have a skill list but the list has several occupations that may not be in such a short supply. Further in addition to the SOL, It also has state lists and almost all skilled occupations fit into one category or the other. Still it is a handy list. It tends to give highest points to those who are at an age that can contribute to the economy and further it gives preference to those with superior English skills. I have no qualms with this being part of the process.

Now that’s all very well, but it is the government that sets the immigration policy framework and the numbers, and this is where the detail is important. While we like to think that we have a largely skills-based immigration program, certainly as far as permanent entry is concerned, take a look at the ­figures.

In 2015-16, there were 128,500 skill stream places but this includes secondary applicants who are not screened for their skills and are generally much less skilled than the primary applicants. There were also 57,400 family stream places.

Increasingly, the skill stream places are taken by applicants who have completed higher education or vocational studies in Australia. There is also a reasonable slab of graduates who are ­allowed to stay in the country pending their application for permanent residence being considered.

In September 2016, there were nearly 40,000 on these temporary graduate (485) visas.

What is very clear is that the current immigration policy is undertaken to please universities, which sell their courses with the explicit side dish of the high probability of permanent residence for graduating students. (Note that there were 470,000 student visa holders in Australia in September 2016.)

This is one reason that this ­government has been so reluctant to make the obvious decision to ­reduce the annual migrant intake — the universities make super­normal profits from foreign students but this can only continue if the package includes the permanent migration option. The government can then get away with constraining the growth of real student tuition subsidies for local students.

The government also refuses to trim significantly the skill occupation list that drives the points system that determines in part eligibility for entry through the skill stream.

The reality is that there are no shortages in many of the listed occupations, but it serves the government to maintain them on the list by giving more potential migrants the chance to achieve permanent residence.

The above is quoted from an article by Judith Sloan in The Australian (4th March 17)

However what Trump is trying to check is the H1B, which simply means work permits to those sponsored by employers. He wants the locals to be considered for the jobs first. We need to then begin comparing apples with apples. The Australian equivalent to the H1B is the 457 sub-class visa and for this, the requirements are much simpler and easier to even H1B. An employer with even a small business is able to find ways to sponsor anyone from around the world quite easily. And there are hundreds of scams pertaining to compromised work permits that get unravelled so very often. Currently the Australian policy makers are working on ways to restructure this particular visa and even the Australians don’t find it ideal. I wonder how Trump did. But then he is largely uninformed.

If he is instead talking of skilled based permanent residency system and wants to introduce a similar process in US in addition to the H1B mechanism that currently exists, I believe that it will be a welcome introduction indeed and will have more migrants taking up local jobs. Not what he promised. Australia, Canada and NZ are economies that needs migrants and thus the point based system for migration.

Lets compare apples with apples.

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