WA, Chamber's News |
This month, the French-Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry focused on the changes to visas and taxation in Australia. As many of our members, both French and Australian companies are concerned by these changes, our WA Chapter organised a Business Seminar on 7th August to discuss this in more depth, whilst enjoying a delicious French breakfast.
Two guest speakers were invited: Hélène Rodari, Migration Agent, and Joshua Haque, Senior Manager at Pitcher Partners.
Joshua discussed the various changes relating to tax whilst Hélène covered changes to the conditions of visa applications.
Due to economic difficulties, the Australian government is trying to control the migratory flow as much as possible. This is the main catalyst for the recent changes. Every visa is affected by these modifications which appeared suddenly last March. From the Working Holiday Visa to 457 visas, the government’s decision has had a significant impact on the way that foreigners can apply for visas.
This seminar presented the two experts’ points of view and clarified the understanding of the process of changes. These changes are especially important for French companies settled in Australia as well as for Australian companies sponsoring French people.
Joshua started his speech on the subject of how taxes impact foreign people currently working in Australia. The key focus was to make a clear distinction between a resident and a non-resident. Indeed, Australian residents are taxed on their wages even when they are receiving salaries from another country. Whereas, non-residents are taxed only on their Australian wages. If the distinction seemed clear, a lot of uncertain elements still surround the question of whether people are classed as Australian residents. The law attempted to clarify the matter by proposing a definition of Australian residency. According to the law, being a resident in Australia connotates living there, with the intent of staying for an undefined period of time.
To be considered a resident and thus being eligible to apply for residency, the government has decided to propose a test. The 183-day test for example, is used by the authorities to control whether someone can apply for residency. You must be in Australia for more than 183 days, without leaving the country.
The majority of French expatriates are temporary residents. In Western Australia, most of the French expatriates are on a temporary visa. The government’s decisions will come to impact the way people are migrating to Australia.
After Joshua Haque’s speech, Hélène Rodari explained the changes to visas. There was a particular focus on the Working Holiday Visa and Employer sponsored visas. Hélène continued to elaborate on some of the elements regarding the process of obtaining Australian citizenship.
A large number of young French people arrive in Australia with a Working Holiday Visa (417). With this visa you are able to work (with certain limitations), however those wishing to apply for a second year must do specified work in regional areas, often referred to as farm work. Before the recent changes, it was possible to fulfil the criteria through unpaid work in order to apply for a second WHV. To protect Australian workers, new legislation no longer considers unpaid work as specified work to count towards a second WHV. Whilst some may be unhappy with the decision to exclude voluntary work from contributing towards the second year, it's important to realise that this is a measure that has been taken to protect workers. There are also some changes relatibng to the Departing Australia Superannuation Payment.
The Employer-Sponsored Visas will be affected by significant modifications. The 457 visa, which is popular among companies and expats, is going to be annulled. Following 18th April, the sponsored visa is in trouble. The Australian government has declared they will attempt to make the visa disappear as soon as possible. The list of jobs available under this visa is getting smaller and smaller.
Some new changes are being advocated for March 2018. Migration agents can already say that the 457 visa is going to be the main substitute for a new visa named the ‘Temporary Skills Shortage.’ The criteria for this visa may turn out to be stricter than they were with the 457 visa.
Furthermore, the ENS 186 and RSMS 187 visas are also concerned by this “revolution”. Little by little, the Australian government has revealed its political position regarding immigration. Priority is given to the Australian workforce, although the unemployment rate has experienced a minor increase. The Australian government is attempting to keep close control over who is able to come to Australia, and why.
In light of these new changes and the uncertainty that they have brought to some parts of the French-Australian business community, the French-Australian Chamber recognises the importance for our members to be well-informed and have the opportunity to discuss this subject further. Following the success of this business seminar and due to popular demand, another presentation will be organised soon.
You can take a look at the event Powerpoint presentation HERE.
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