New Skilled Migration Programme Introduced in Australia

Australia’s skilled migration program is being updated as a result of government plans to attract the best migrants into the country.

On July 1st the Australian government introduced the first stage of their new immigration program and it could mean significant changes for people who are interested in relocating to Australia. The changes, which represent a move away from the previous migration Occupations in Demand list to a new skilled occupation list is, according to Australia’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC), “designed to select the best and brightest skilled migrants” and attract people into the country who have the skills that Australia needs to improve their economic outlook. “The target groups are engineering, medical profession, nursing, scientist etc,” said assistant secretary of Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship Peter Speldewinde.

One prominent change in the migration program rules includes the inclusion of higher points for English language skills. However, this has received a great deal of criticism from many organizations, which claim that the DIAC is discriminating against candidates from none-English speaking countries.

In addition changes in the skilled occupation list and English speaking requirements, the age limit on skill migration has also been increased: “The age limit for unsponsored applicants is being raised from 45 to 50 if they have the required qualifications and experience,” Peter Speldewinde, assistant secretary, labour market branch, Australian department of immigration and citizenship, announced recently.

Other changes to the rules include the recognition of degrees from colleges and universities outside Australia.

An expression of interest model that is similar to that in use in New Zealand will be implemented July 1st 2012 and interested applicants will be able to complete a self-assessment online followed by a formal expression of interest. Once this has been completed the candidates will wait to receive an invitation to apply if suitable vacancies arise for their skill sets. “The EOIs will be held on a register and people on that register will be ranked according to what point they score. Australian government would periodically issue advertisement about the job offers and those with high scores on the points test would be invited,” Speldewinde said.

However, speaking to UK newspaper The Telegraph, Catherine Burnett, a spokesperson for the migration consultancy Migration Matters, criticized this system: “Currently under the General Skilled Migration System, if you meet the legislative criteria you are entitled to the grant of a visa. With an expression of interest scheme, this removes that impartiality and also removes any possibility of appealing if your expression of interest is not selected.

“This is certainly politically expedient for a government under pressure from several directions regarding immigration, but whether this is ultimately of any benefit to Australia is a complex issue.”

The Australian government is currently planning on admitting 126,000 people under the Skilled Migration Programme over the next year with this figure representing approximately two thirds of the overall migrant intake.