24 February 2009

Australian immigration not to follow UKBA's lead

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After the United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) announced a tightening of its massive immigration programme, the Australian Immigration Minister Senator Chris Evans has announced he would not follow suit.

Since February last year, the British government has been gradually introducing a new points-based system that has been based on the highly successful Australian immigration system, in which visa applicants need to earn a certain number of points before their Australian visa application can be approved.

This week, in response to growing concerns that the UK immigration programme is working against the rising unemployment figures in England, the UKBA announced that they would make it harder for non-EU highly skilled migrants to obtain a British visa.  The new rules maintain that those highly skilled workers without a job organised in the UK need to have a master's degree or a previous salary of at least £20,000 ($44,000).

According to the ABC News, Senator Evans has confirmed that he would not be tightening the skilled migration pathway in Australia, because the Australian economy still has skill gaps that need to be filled and a constant demand for migrant labour.

"We've been very successful in attracting high quality migrants to this country," he said.  "We'll continue to need to do so because our demographic trend is such that our workforce will decline from 2010 onwards, and we'll continue to have a need for migrant labour.

"But we've been focused very much at the high-skilled end over the years and we'll continue to be focused on the skills we need."

Senator Evans has also indicated that a formal review into the critical skills list is likely to happen over the next few weeks, so that it can better reflect the current economic needs of the Australian workforce. 

The Construction Union and Mining Union have both requested jobs to be removed from the list, while the Master Builders Association has confirmed it would need more migrant workers to support the planned infrastructure boom as funded by the Government's recent stimulus package.

Senator Evans also commented that while there may still be high demand for skilled workers in some industries, the number of immigrants emigrating to Australia is likely to decrease during this year.

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

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