18 December 2008

Evans: migration plan revised to give those with high in demand skills priority

The Rudd Government has announced changes to the Australian skilled migration programme that allow those prospective migrants with skills high in demand or a job offer to have priority in the visa application process.

Senator Chris Evans, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, said the changes would work to reflect the current conditions and needs of the labour market in Australia and address the critical needs of the Australian economy.  By prioritising particular Australian visa applications, the Government can ensure it is meeting the demands of Australian businesses and maintaining maximum productivity rates.

"This will ensure our migration program is more responsive to the needs of the economy and assists industries still experiencing skills shortages," Senator Evans said.

The Federal Government has consulted Australian businesses and industries as well as state and local governments to establish a holistic and targeted picture of the skills needed in the Australian workforce.

Senator Evans said despite there being a ceiling on the 133,500 Australian visas, the actual quota for Australian immigration would remain undecided until the release of the 2009-10 Budget.

"To meet immediate skills needs, the government will fast-track the processing of sponsored permanent migration visas, where skilled migrants are nominated by employers for jobs that cannot be filled locally.

"This could see employer sponsored visas occupying an increasing share of the skilled program, with 36 000 visas likely in the current year," the minister said.

For those who do not have a job offer when applying for skilled migration to Australia, if they have a skill listed on the critical skills list then the Government would prioritise their visa application.

The critical skills list focuses on medical and key IT professionals, engineers and construction trades.  The occupations on the critical skills list are the ones most frequently sought by employers through sponsorship.

Before the changes to the skilled migration programme, around ten thousand applications from engineers, medical professionals and other skilled migrants remained in a year-long queue for processing.  Now, the Australian economy would be able to access the skills when it needs them.

The skilled migration programme would be more targeted in its approach and would benefit those already living and working in Australia on temporary visas.

"The bottom line is that our migration program is vital to keep the economy growing as well as helping Australian businesses overcome skills shortages," Senator Evans said.

"It must also be remembered that Australia is facing a demographic shift that will see more people retire than join the workforce, so the permanent skilled migration program provides a stable, effective and targeted source of skilled workers for the future."

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

Article by Jessica Bird, Australian Visa Bureau.

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