09 November 2006

UK Government moves to Australian style points-based immigration system

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The United Kingdom's Home Secretary, John Reid, has announced that UK migrants will be points tested for immigration. The new UK system is based on the Australian immigration model of points testing potential migrants. The Australian immigration system is said to be one of the most comprehensive and successful immigration systems in the world.

'There's no question Australia benefits from a carefully managed migration program. The system is points-based, meaning applicants must meet the minimum points allocated for the visa subclass under which they are applying,' said Oonagh Baerveldt, spokesperson for the Australian Visa Bureau. 'The system works like tap; the flow can be changed based on the points threshold. It's an extremely effective way of managing migrant flow.'

There are several migration streams into Australia; the most common are Skilled, Family and Business. Australia offers a variety of visas; however, not all lead to permanent settlement in Australia. The most popular visa for Australia is the Skilled Independent visa. The minimum points threshold for the Skilled Independent visa is 120 points. Points are awarded for skill, age, English language ability, specific work experience, occupation in demand/job offer, spouse skills and there are some 'bonus' points available too.

'In order to apply for skilled migration to Australia, your occupation must appear on Australia's skills list. The Skilled Occupation List or SOL, is a comprehensive list of occupations defined by the Australian Government. More importantly, there is a supplement list to the SOL, known as the Migration Occupations in Demand List (MODL),' said Baerveldt. 'These listed occupations are deemed to be in high demand by the Australian Government. In other words, the Australian economy is in a position to absorb workers in these occupations, across various sectors of the economy. Australia is looking for and is actively recruiting skilled migrants and in particular those on the MODL.'

The Australian Department of Immigration (DIMA) speak to industry leaders and the heads of various sectors of business on an on-going basis. This consultative process creates the MODL. The MODL is significant to the applicant and to business because those who have an occupation listed here receive bonus points and priority visa processing through DIMA.

Once an applicant knows their points total they can determine if they are eligible for the visa subclass they desire. If they fail to meet the 120 minimum mark, they are still eligible for regional migration with 100 points. There are other visa options like the 457 employer sponsored visa.

Once the points are tallied and the applicant is ready to move forward with their application, the process is split in two stages. Stage one involves having a Skills Assessment and stage two is the actual lodging of the application. In total, the two stages can take up to 18 months.

'The Australian Government has a proactive approach to immigration; there's a vested interest in attracting migrants who will make an immediate contribution to the Australian economy. The points system they maintain changes based on industry requirements, and the needs of regional and outlying communities. The Australian system is so effective it's attracting upwards of 20,000 UK nationals Down Under every year,' said Baerveldt.

Take the Australian points test for yourself; the online assessment is no obligation and reflects current Australian immigration legislation.

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