Recent media articles relating to job opportunities in Australia for taxi drivers from Greece, include inaccurate information regarding Australia’s migration programs, according to Jenny Bloomfield, Head of Mission at the Australian Embassy in Athens.
In a letter to Neos Kosmos, Ambassador Bloomfield pointed out that whilst Australia’s skilled migration program is open to applicants from all over the world with the skills and qualifications in demand in Australia, the occupation of taxi driver is not included in the list of skilled occupations currently in demand for the purposes of Australia’s skilled migration program.
Ms Bloomfield also noted that suggestions concerning taxi drivers being recruited from Greece making use of student visa arrangements, “the Australian Embassy would like to note that student visas are not migration visas. They are intended for applicants whose main reason for travel is to study in Australia”.
The Ambassador added that the rules for student visa applicants included: being accepted for full-time study in a registered course before applying; being assessed as a genuine temporary entrant; having the financial capacity to fund their study and living costs in Australia, and having English language proficiency to meet course requirements.
Strict visa conditions apply regarding work for student visa holders – generally a maximum of 20 hours per week during study semesters.
Ms Bloomfield said that there had been an increase in Greek enquiries about options for migration to Australia, but that those enquiries had not translated into a significant increase in visa applications.
“Inaccurate reports regarding Australia’s migration policies have contributed to increased Greek interest. Contrary to some reports, Australian Government statistics show that there has not been any significant change in the number of Greek nationals visiting or settling in Australia, with fewer than 15 Greek nationals being granted skilled migration visas to Australia in 2011.”
The statement from Australia’s most senior diplomat in Greece reiterated that “Australia has an open, non-discriminatory migration program designed to meet Australia’s economic and labour market needs, and that the skilled migration program is open to people of all nationalities with the qualifications and skills in demand in Australia, including from Greece.”
Commenting on reports in regard to efforts to put in place a working holiday visa arrangement between Greece and Australia, Ms Bloomfield said: “Australia has reciprocal work and holiday arrangements in place with 26 countries. While there is no such arrangement with Greece at present, we remain open to discussing with the Greek Government a reciprocal arrangement.
“We also welcome Greek students to come and study in Australia, joining some 500,000 students from over 190 countries who are receiving a first-class education.”
Ms Bloomfield said that the Australian Government understands the difficult economic situation facing Greece. “We stand ready to support Greek efforts, by sharing Australia’s reform experience that made our economy more resilient, and by harnessing our community ties to grow trade and investment.”
Anyone considering applying for migration to Australia should seek information from Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) website www.immi.gov.au The website of the Australian Embassy in Athens www.greece.embassy.gov.au contains information in Greek.