01 November 2011

Australian skilled migration program takes home positive report card

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The Department of Immigration and Citizenship Annual Report 2010-11 has revealed the Australian skilled migration program is largely in line with the government's economic migration goals.

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The Australian skilled migration program has passed the immigration department's self-assessment with flying colours.

The financial year 2010-11 has seen a 5.6% increase in Skill stream Australia visa grants, according to figures contained in the Australian immigration department's recently released Annual Report.

Australia awarded 113,725 skilled migration visas in 2010-11, up from 107,868 in 2009-10. The discrepancy relates to a deliberate change in the planned level of migration intake in 2009-10 due to "the global economic situation," the report states.

The increase in skilled migration intake is considered a positive outcome by the government as these visa holders are more likely to "contribute to the Australian economy through their skills, qualifications, entrepreneurialism and future employment potential," the report states.

However, the number of granted visas fell just short of the 113,850 departmental planning level 2010-11, meaning that 125 prospective skilled migrants missed out on a visa despite the stipulated quota and considerable demand.

The report also found that the department has achieved its objective in boosting the state-specific and regional migration (SSRM) programs, which attempt to alleviate skills shortages in the regions by offering location-specific visas to skilled foreign workers.

"The SSRM programs continue to be a priority for the government and these programs accounted for 32.9 per cent of the Skill Stream of the 2010-11 Migration Program," the report states.

"A total of 37,410 visas were granted under the SSRM programs in 2010-11, representing an increase of more than 2.3 per cent over the previous year".

Most Australian states and territories saw a significant increase in the receipt of SSRM visa grants in 2010-11, including the Australian Capital Territory (up 48.5%), Tasmania (up 22.8%) and New South Wales (up 14.3%). Only South Australia saw a decline in regional skilled migration, down 21.8% to 7460.

"It is difficult to determine why South Australia saw a reduction in the number of applicants, as the SSRM program is made up of the Skilled Sponsored (subclass 176), Skilled Regional - provisional (subclass 475) and Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme visas," said Australian Visa Bureau spokesperson Leonie Cotton.

"However, this may be attributed to the late release of their State Migration Plan, which outlines the occupations deemed in-demand for a state government".

The report also praised the new points test introduced in July 2011, which the department claims has "better aligned the skilled migration program more closely with labour market demands".

Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy that specialises in helping people lodge applications with the Australian High Commission.

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