03 September 2007

New Australian Immigration rules have started

The revamped Australian immigration rules have now come into effect, with major structural reforms and a stronger emphasis on English language skills benefiting Britons who want to take steps towards a new life by applying for an Australian visa.

The General Skilled Migration (GSM) programme has been restructured. The 11 skilled migration visa categories will now be collapsed into just four and the 15 skilled migration visa subclasses will be collapsed into nine.

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Kevin Andrews, hopes the new visa system will be more efficient and robust. "The changes would lead to better labour market outcomes for all GSM applicants and help deliver the skills Australian employers need," he said.

There is a new English language threshold requirement for GSM Australian visas. Applicants with skills in professional, technical or managerial occupations will now need an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) 'competent' level. Applicants with recognised trade skills applying for General Skilled Migration will be required to have an IELTS 'vocational' level. In the Australian visa points system, each of these levels are worth 15 points.

However, applicants for a GSM Australian visa who speak English as their first language will effectively receive 25 points for having a 'proficient' IELTS level. United Kingdom passport holders are not required to sit an IELTS test to demonstrate that they meet the English language threshold.

More information is available on the Australian Visa Bureau's website. Anyone applying for an Australian visa should begin by completing the online Australian visa application to see if they meet the Australian visa requirements.

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