12 May 2009

Important changes to Australian skilled migration released today

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Recent predictions that the Australian skilled migration program for the 2009-10 financial year would be reduced in line with the struggling economy have been confirmed today. The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, announced today, 12 May, that the Australian skilled migration program would be cut and be more targeted on the skills needed most by the Australian workforce to help sponsor positive economic growth. Tradespersons will also be affected by increased requirements for skilled migration to Australia.

Since the start of this calendar year, the Australian skilled migration program has been under intense review in light of the changing economic conditions, and as a result the Government fine-tuned the program to better reflect the needs of the economy. 

This meant capping the projected independent skilled migration quota at 115,000 places, fast-tracking employer-sponsored visas, lending States and Territories more freedom in the government-sponsored program, and giving those with skills listed on the Critical Skills List (CSL) priority in the independent skilled stream (in particular health, IT and engineering professionals).

Today, the Government announced further amendments to the Australian skilled migration program.  While the changes made this year will remain during the 2009-10 financial year, a further cap on the independent skilled migration program will be implemented, reducing the projected total to 108,100 places.  The employer-sponsored and government-sponsored visa programs will remain uncapped, and the CSL will remain as a guideline for prioritising independent applications for Australian skilled migration.

Further, requirements for trades occupations in the independent skilled migration pathway will be raised.  Australian skilled migration applicants who do not have a sponsor and are using a trade occupation as their nominated skill will need to have a higher command of the English language.  Now, instead of scoring a 5 in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), trades people will need to score at least a 6 IELTS (out of a possible high score of 9).

Onshore applicants in this category will also need to complete a job readiness test to have their skills assessed, so that they can prove they have the skills nominated in their Australian skilled migration application.  The job readiness test will also need to match that of the tests required from offshore applicants in this category, to ensure that all trades persons applying for non-sponsored skilled migration have the same level of competence.

The measures introduced are aimed to prioritise those applicants who have the skills needed most, and ensure that those non-sponsored applicants with a trade are able to use their skills in the Australian labour market, secure employment and start contributing to the Australian economy as soon as possible.  The Government is also hoping that the government-sponsored and employer-sponsored streams would represent half of all Australian skilled migration visas during the 2009-10 financial year, representing an increase of 30 per cent on previous years.

"The Government has begun the task of constructing a long-term planning framework for migration as a key component of the current reform agenda," Senator Evans said in a statement today.

The family stream of the Australian migration program is also being opened up; a further 2,500 places have been added to the Spouse and Fiancée Visa program, 1,000 places to the Contributory Parent Visa program, and  300 to the Child Visa program.

"We are recognising the importance of family through this boost which will benefit Australians who seek to have their parents, partners or children join them to live here permanently," Senator Evans added.

If you are interested in migrating to Australia and are unsure of the best pathway for you to take now that changes are being implemented, use our free online assessment and have one of the qualified migration consultants call you to help you with emigrating to Australia.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with emigrating to Australia.

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