Wei Chen, a 29 year old Chinese national, found a job at an Italian restaurant in Sydney. She got the job of a junior chef while she was still undergoing her industry training. She was transferred later to a restaurant in Perth which had a shortage of experienced staff. Her employer sponsored her under the RSMS (Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme) for a PR in December 2015.
In 2016, the business group that owned the restaurants went into voluntary administration. This was while Chen’s visa application was still in process. The employer was no longer able to sustain her employment for 2 years as per the offer letter.
The processing time for an RSMS Visa is around 13 months while Chen had only been at work for 6 months. Her RSMS visa application was refused on the grounds that her job was uncertain. Also, Perth was no longer included in regional areas from March 2017. Hence the RSMS visa was no longer applicable to the Perth metropolitan area.
Chen, however, continued to work at the restaurant in Perth. Her new employer once again sponsored her RSMS Visa for their restaurant in Canberra. She moved to Canberra from Perth.
But as luck would have it, the restaurant in Canberra shut shop. As per Chen, the staff was let go without any prior notice. All this while her second RSMS visa was still under process. With no job now, her second RSMS visa was also refused. While refusing her Visa, the Immigration Dept. agreed that she was impacted negatively by circumstances beyond her control. Chen is now fighting to get her due payment from her employer.
Samuel Lau from Malaysia also faced a similar situation. His employer, a restaurant in Perth, had sponsored his RSMS visa in June 2016. But the restaurant shut down in March 2018 while his visa was being processed. His visa was thus denied. He has now appealed against the decision to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. He has also written to the Immigration Minister asking for his intervention in the matter.
Lau, currently, earns a living by driving for Uber in Australia.
Immigration experts say that the processing times for RSMS has increased over time. 4 or 5 years ago, the processing times for these visas was only a month, as per SBS News.
The Immigration Department has raised concerns about rising incidents of fraud in employer-sponsored visas in Australia.
Immigration experts also believe that employer-sponsored visas are risky as everything depends on the employer. There have been a number of cases where employers have sold off their businesses while the visa applications were being processed. Thus, the rejection rate in RSMS visas is also high. Long wait times of RSMS visas have also added to the problems. The long processing time is as much responsible for applicant’s problems as much as employers shutting businesses.
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