Uncertainty felt by would-be migrants to Australia

11 November 2008

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The lives of thousands of foreign students and skilled workers in Australia are still in a state of limbo following last year's government retraction from a scheme that allowed visa applicants to gain points towards permanent residence by investing $100,000 in Treasury bonds.

As many as 5000 people took out huge loans or sold property to become Australian residents. One such person is Jack Huang, a 28-year-old from southeastern China, who has been left stranded by the decision, taken late last year, by state and territory governments, following allegations of a multi-million-dollar immigration scam involving the scheme.

Mr Huang's parents helped to raise the $100,000 by selling two of the three taxis they owned in China so that their son could invest in the 12-month Treasury bonds. They believed he would then meet the five-point requirement for a visa.

Instead, Mr Huang, who graduated with a degree in computer science from Sydney's University of Technology, has been waiting for more than a year for the Government to make up its mind over the issue. After spending $2000 on the visa application fee and handing over $1000 to a migration agent, he continues to hold on to the $100,000 in the hope that the Government makes an exception for those in his position, finally allowing them to invest in the Treasury bonds and gaining the necessary five points.

He cannot lodge a new skilled migrant visa application because it is now more than six months since he finished his degree in Australia.

When asked about his predicament, Mr Huang explained that "All of our lives have been put on hold…..My family asks me every time I speak to them what is happening. They cannot run their business because I have the $100,000 here. Their hands are tied."

Like many others whose visa applications are still pending, Mr Huang has had difficulty finding a suitable job and has been working at a fast food restaurant, hoping to find an IT position once his visa status is resolved.Chinese graphic design graduate Ken Wen, who completed a degree at the Australian National University in Canberra, and Indian computer science graduate Sanchit Kansara, who completed his Masters at Deakin University in Melbourne, are in a similar position.

Together they have helped to mobilise hundreds affected by the cancellation of the scheme and have been lobbying the Immigration Minister, Chris Evans, seeking either a waiver of the five-point requirement or some other urgent solution.