Mayo construction workers may struggle with new Oz visa criteria

With up to 50 per cent of the 7,000 construction workers in Mayo believed to have lost their income, the rush is on to beat the July 1 deadline that will see Australia introduce changes to its points system which may affect thousands of would-be Irish emigrants. According to Ireland’s visa specialist these imminent changes will mean a significant tightening of eligibility requirements and may disqualify thousands of valuable skilled Irish construction workers who would previously have been accepted for the Australian Skilled Migrant visa programme. An estimated one in eight people (12.6 per cent ) employed in Ireland work in construction. This compares with an EU average of less than eight per cent.

“Approximately 2,200 Irish construction workers were granted skilled migrant resident visas to Australia in 2010 and the figure is expected to rise in the first six months of 2011 as unemployed workers scramble for places,” said Edwina Shanahan, manager with “Come July 1 many of those workers who would have had no problem in obtaining a visa last year will now be turned away. For instance, under the new points system a 34-year-old carpenter with proficient English and the relevant qualification papers, with three to eight years’ recent experience, would not be accepted. But up until now under the current system most tradesmen with similar criteria would be eligible. It is estimated that there are 7,000 skilled construction workers in Mayo so it’s likely to have a significant impact on people in the county who are thinking about emigrating.”

The visa experts are warning those in Mayo who were considering applying for an Australian visa to act fast before the new system comes into existence.

“Migrant visas can take anywhere from one to three months to be processed by, as all migrant applications need to complete skills assessments and many also need state sponsorship to meet the points test,” Ms Shanahan advised. “So for some there is still time left – if they act now. The changes will not affect everyone so we are advising that people seek expert advice to ascertain their position, ie, should they apply now or can they wait until after July 1. Due to the volume of files the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC ) is currently receiving from those that meet the existing points test, it is probable that DIAC will stop accepting applications that are eligible under the current points system before July. Applications for an Australian skilled migration visa which have been submitted and accepted before July 1 2011 will be assessed according to the criteria of the current points test. Visafirst are also embarking on another round of national information roadshows so we are advising people to come along to get a better understanding of their position in relation to emigrating.”


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