28 October 2008

Australia's migration boom fuelled by love and marriage

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The Australian migration programme reached record numbers this year, and the partner visa programmes have played a major role, reports AdelaideNow.

Around 150,000 people migrated to Australia during the 2007-08 migration programme, and of this 30,000 were people joining their Australian fiancés or husbands and a further 10,000 temporary Australian visa holders were granted permanent visas so they could stay with their partner in Australia.  This comprised 80 per cent of the total family migrant intake during this period.

The biggest source of migrant partners is the UK, with 4121 British nationals moving to Australia to be with their spouse, fiancé or partner in the 2007-08 financial year.

Prospective migrants wishing to permanently move to Australia to be with their partner have several options under the Australian spouse visa programs including the Spouse Temporary visa (subclass 309) and Permanent visa (subclass 100), Prospective Marriage visa (subclass 300), and the Interdependency Temporary visa (subclass 310) and Permanent visa (subclass 110). 

To qualify for any of these visas, prospective migrants must be partners of Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents, or eligible New Zealand citizens.  Partners include people who intend to be or are married, de facto partners, and interdependent partners (same-sex).

In related news, the Australian Immigration Minister Chris Evans has had to defend his party's future immigration policy amidst claims he will cut back the annual immigration quota next year, reports AFP. 

A review to the skilled migration quota will have to wait for the release of financial data in November; yet prospective migrants to Australia are being encouraged to process their Australian visa applications now in case the Government reduces the record annual migrant intake.

The migration quota increased by 31,000 this year to reach a record 190,300 visas for Australia, of which comprised 133,500 skilled visa migrants.  The mid-year financial data will be the deciding factor for the Government's migrant quota next year, particularly if Australian unemployment rises during the global financial crisis.

"Clearly if the demand for labour comes off you'd adjust the migration programme accordingly," Senator Evans told Nine Network television.

"We can turn the taps off if we need to.  But there are still industries with strong demand for labour and we'll just have to talk to industry and make a judgment about what the appropriate level will be once we've got a bit better idea of what's happening in the economy."

The Opposition to the Rudd Government has called for a 50,000-visa cutback to the migration quota to cope with the slowing down of the economy; however, according to The Age, Australian Industry Group chief executive Heather Ridout said a cutback to the Australian skilled migration quota would damage Australian businesses.  Ms Ridout said the labour force would have to grow by 1.25 per cent annually and immigration would need to account for 1 per cent of this.  

Despite these concerns, Senator Evans is encouraging the growing interest in Australian immigration from British and New Zealand residents.  According to the Minister, the economic downturns have boosted Australian visa applications and interest in the Australian skilled migration programme. 

"I think the downturn in Great Britain over the last year or two has actually seen a renewed interest from Great Britain in people looking to migrate either temporarily or permanently," he said.

Prospective migrants are advised to process their applications before the Minister makes changes to the number of available placements in the Australian migration programme.  Applicants should also ensure they fill in their applications accurately and support them with the best possible personal information to avoid lengthy delays in the visa process.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with their Australian visa application.

Article by Jessica Bird, Australian Visa Bureau.

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