19 June 2006
Australia to feel the effects of US immigration intake
Experts have predicted that a proposed increase in America's migrant intake would only add to Australia's skills shortage.
As part of a debate in the US regarding illegal immigrants, of which there are 12 million, the country's Senate recently passed a bill to increase annual employment-based migration - which carries with it permanent residency in the US - from 14,000 to 650,000.
Another aspect of the bill includes increasing the cap for the popular H1-B from 65,000 a year to 115,000. A change which has been backed by several industry and technology leaders in the US, including Bill Gates.
At the Centre for Population and Urban Research at Monash University, director Bob Birrell says these kinds of changes will have a 'dramatic' effect on Australia's skilled migration program.
Professor noted in an interview last week with a leading Australian newspaper that there is already significant competition for skilled migrants. Australia, in Birrell's opinion, comes second after the US and in front of Canada in the migrant choice pecking order.
Australia's skilled immigrant intake is up to 120,000 from 60,000 only a few years ago. The Australian Department of Immigration (DIMA) gives priority to 80 in demand professionals and trade occupations.
Director of communications at the Business Council of Australia, Mark Triffitt, says Australia needs to continue to market itself as an attractive place to have a successful career. The Business Council has called for Australia's skilled migrant intake to increase to 180,000 to fill gaps it sees in the Australian economy.
For many years, the US has attracted the best and brightest migrants drawn by promise of higher wages, greater opportunities and the chance to experience the 'American Dream.'
Last year's annual 'diversity lottery' or 'Green Card lottery' attracted more than 6.3 million applications for 50,000 spots.