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A lot of things have changed in March 2018 regarding visas. While I try to stay up to date on these things, one very impacting change blindsided me recently.

I've been interviewing with a large company based in Melbourne since February, and I've managed to ace their interviews. They were on the verge of offering me the job, but were stumped by the Australian Immigration Service, since the restrictions changed while we were interviewing.

My recruiter now claims they will be unable to hire me no matter what, since my country of origin (The Netherlands) is on a "Restricted Countries" list, apparently. He also mentioned that they are facing this problem with numerous candidates, and as a company they are suffering from these new restrictions made by the Immigration Service. He said:

The real road block has been the Australian Government VISA changes and our HR Services team have been spending a lot of time getting our heads around all of the new policies, changes and any work-arounds or exceptions we could muster before we came back to you with a final answer

Unfortunately, the Netherlands is on the “Restricted Countries” list so no matter how hard we try we cannot sponsor anyone from this nation (amongst many others)

You are of course still able to apply yourself and try to obtain sponsorship as an individual, but we can no longer assist.

After the initial disappointment, I became a bit skeptical. I thought I knew what those new rules affected, and this is the first time I heard The Netherlands is banned. If I knew, I wouldn't have spent countless hours during night-time doing Skype interviews.

A couple of days after initially asking this question, I received a message from the recruiter with a clarification.

To be clear regarding the VISA situation, it has since been explained to me in much more detail; There is a list of countries (including the Netherlands) that are on a list that if we wish to sponsor people from these nations we need to satisfy an incredibly stringent criteria and submit what the government calls “Labour Market Testing”. As a Business we have chosen not to change our methodology in order to satisfy these requirements as it compromises a number of key business policies.

Where can I find this list of countries?

  • This is very strange because there were a large number of changes in March, but from reading everything I can find, I don't see anything about a list of restricted countries. I would have some suspicion that the employer is backing out because it creates more work for them to conform to the new rules (advertising in Australia being one of them) and is making up the restricted countries. But that's just a suspicion. – la femme cosmique Jul 11 '18 at 9:07
  • @lafemmecosmique That's the same skepticism that I felt after reading their responses. Even in the last quote, he kind of admits that they don't want to bend to the new rules, because they allegedly compromise their policies. I know for a fact that they need to prove to Immigration that they tried for a month to acquire local talent before being allowed to source a foreigner. – Marc Dingena Jul 11 '18 at 9:14
  • Yes, everything about the new rules for sponsorship seems to relate to that -- not to any list of restricted countries. As nebulous as Aussie immigration is, I don't think they'd keep such a list secret or only open to employers. Either way it sucks for you and I'm sorry. I hope you find a resolution soon. – la femme cosmique Jul 11 '18 at 9:53
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Labour market testing is the process sponsors have to go through to check there is no Australian suitable for a particular job before employing someone overseas.

Labour market testing is required for applicants from all countries, unless that requirement is in breach of Australia's international trade obligations. From the Department's website, the following are currently exempted from labour market testing:

  • the worker you nominate is a citizen/national of China, Japan or Thailand, or is a citizen/national/permanent resident of Chile, South Korea, New Zealand or Singapore
  • the worker you nominate is a current employee of a business that is an associated entity of your business and the associated entity is located in an Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) country (Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam), Chile, China,​ Japan, South Korea or New Zealand
  • the worker you nominate is a current employee of an associated entity of your business and that associated entity operates in a country that is a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and the nominated occupation is an Executive or Senior Manager occupation for the purposes of international trade obligations and the nominee will be responsible for the entire or a substantial part of your company's operations in Australia
  • your business currently operates in a WTO member country or territory and is seeking to set up a business in Australia, and the nominated occupation is an Executive or Senior Manager occupation for the purposes of international trade obligations
  • the worker you nominate is a citizen of a WTO member country or territory and has worked for you in the nominated position in Australia on a full-time basis for the last two years.

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