07 May 2010

Government announces temporary suspension of the Australian Skilled Migration program

In an unexpected move, the Australian Government has announced it will not accept applications for offshore general skilled migration, effective midnight AEST 7 May, until the end of the current program year on 30 June, 2010.

The temporary suspension applies to all primary applicants for the following Australian visas: Subclass 175 – Skilled Independent; Subclass 176 – Skilled Sponsored; and Subclass 475 – Skilled Regional Sponsored.

Applications for these Australian visa subclasses submitted on or after 8 May, 2010, will be considered invalid and the application will be returned to the client along with the Visa Application Charge although all associated fees, for example fees incurred for medical examinations, cannot be refunded.

Those who have already submitted a valid application, online or by mail, before midnight Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST) on 7 May will have their application processed as normal and in accordance with the priority processing arrangements.

A statement issued by the Australian Department of Immigration said the demand for general skilled migration places exceeded the available supply.

“The temporary suspension will ensure that the occupational profile of applicants for General Skilled Migration clearly reflects the needs of the Australian labour market,” the statement detailed.

“The temporary suspension will also facilitate the transition from the current Skilled Occupation List (SOL) to the new SOL. It is anticipated that the Government will announce proposed changes to the SOL in May 2010.”

Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison says regional areas of Australia, already struggling to find skilled workers, will be badly affected by the suspension.

"Particularly the hospitality sector in regional areas, the agricultural sector, those involved in the food processing industry, motor mechanics out in regional areas - I mean the list is very long and it's particularly in trade skill-based occupations," he told ABC Radio.

The suspension follows a growing list of changes to the Australian immigration program announced without notice by the Australian Government. For our reaction to the announcement, visit the Visa Bureau blog.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people lodge their Australian immigration applications with the Australian Embassy.   

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