04 July 2005

Change to Australian regional visa announced

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Regional employers in Australia will find it easier to locate skilled migrants to help fill jobs in demand, the Australian Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA) announced. A series of changes to Australia’s Skilled Independent Regional (SIR) visa come into effect today.

Under the changes skilled migrants wanting to work in regional and low growth areas of Australia will be granted an additional 10 points under the SIR visa. Applicants for the SIR scheme previously needed 110 points; this change essentially lowers the pass mark to 100 points.

The SIR visa helps states, territories and regional authorities meet their needs in addressing critical skill shortages, while providing skilled migrants with the opportunity to experience the Australian lifestyle.

Successful applicants who have been sponsored by a state or territory government will be granted a three-year temporary visa, with settlement in regional/low growth areas of Australia.

After two years of temporary residence including one year of full time work, a SIR visa holder can apply for permanent residence under a range of existing visa options.

The visa also gives overseas students who have studied in Australia a chance to stay and contribute to regional growth.

The additional 10 points for SIR applicants will help achieve Australia’s largest and most targeted skilled migration intake ever – 97 500 – in 2005-06.

Applicants for a SIR visa have their skills assessed by an Australian authority to ensure that they have the necessary skills to meet Australian work standards. They must also have good English language skills and be under 45 years of age when they apply for a visa.

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