11 July 2003

Record numbers of migrants to boost economy

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A new record of 66,050 Skill Stream visas were issued in 2002-03. The visas form 61 per cent of the 108,070 total Migration (non-Humanitarian) Program outcome.

The number of Skilled migrant visas issued in a program year reached an all time high in 2002-03, the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Philip Ruddock, announced today.

A new record of 66,050 Skill Stream visas were issued in 2002-03. The visas form 61 per cent of the 108,070 total Migration (non-Humanitarian) Program outcome.

The Family Stream also had the largest intake of migrants in six years, with 40,790 visas granted.

'The policies that this Government has put in place over the past few years have focused on skilled migration and brought about a program that is highly beneficial to Australia's economy, while still catering for family reunions,' Mr Ruddock said.

'A preliminary analysis by Access Economics, using today's prices, estimates that if the Migration Program is continued at the same settings, the cumulative benefit to the Commonwealth Budget could be around $30 billion over 10 years.

'Research shows that changes we have made to qualifications, English language and age requirements for skilled migrants have led to a sharp increase in the labour market and settlement success levels,' the Minister said.

'Recent Skilled migrants are earning well above the national average weekly wage only 18 months after their arrival in Australia.'

The number of skilled migrants choosing to call Australia's regional areas home was also at an all-time high in 2003-03 with 7,940 visas granted under State specific and regional migration initiatives.

'A key element in the 2002-03 Migration Program has been the streamlined processing of applications for skilled, business and parent visas through dedicated processing centres in Perth and Adelaide,' Mr Ruddock said.

'It is clear that without these centres, events such as SARS and the war in Iraq would have seriously hampered visa processing, leading to a smaller program.

'These centres are also delivering improved service to clients and faster turnaround times, while allowing DIMIA's overseas posts to focus on integrity checks,' Mr Ruddock said.

The innovative processing centres have also led to the repatriation of some 175 jobs to Australia to date.


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