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Lengthy visa process puts skilled workers off coming to Australia

AUSTRALIA’S immigration laws could be costing WA valuable business and skilled migrants.

Immigration and trade agents are complaining that business people from China, Indonesia and India, who want to come to WA on business, are being forced to wait up to six months for their business visa to be processed.

They are also being forced to meet visa requirements that are not expected by other countries.

It is understood some international business people have decided against seeking a visa to Australia because they feel they are likely to be rejected. Such a rejection can jeopardises their chances of getting a visa to countries such as the US or Canada.

Indonesians trying to gain a business migrant visa to Australia have been caught up in a three-year backlog.

Some blame for the delays is being levelled at Australian immigration offices in these countries.

Part of the Indonesian backlog is a holdover from the days of the Asian financial crisis.

Many of the people in the queue had the value of their assets reduced by the devaluation of the Indonesian rupiah. To qualify as a business migrant, an applicant needs a net asset backing of at least $200,000.

For some families the problem has been made worse by the wait. Their children are now over 18 years of age, creating confusion over whether they have to apply for a visa in their own right.

The Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs has set up an office in WA to help reduce the backlog. Initial indications show that office has been successful.

It is also understood the Department has set up an office in Adelaide to bring the processing of other classes of visas onshore.

International Business Council of WA secretary general Nigel David said Australia’s immigration offices in China, India and Indonesia were causing unnecessary delays.

“These business people just want to get their visa, get on a plane and come over,” Mr David said.

He said he had been forced to take his problems to Federal Member for Curtin Julie Bishop to get some assistance.

CEC Consulting managing director Peter Edwards said the delays were giving Australia a bad name in the international business world.

“International business people have this perception that Australia welcomes them. The reality of the visa process lets them down,” he said.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry trade services group manager Kieth Seed said WA companies were becoming frustrated by the visa hold-ups.

“They are trying to get colleagues – or potential colleagues – over from China and they’ve been running into

all sorts of problems,” Mr Seed said.

“We see them as bona-fide business people over here, but the Department seems to think otherwise.

“It makes the development of trade very difficult.”

Mr Seed said it was easier for people to get business visas to Australia if their contacts in Australia could provide the Department with an itinerary for their visit.

The Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs could not be contacted for comment.

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