An interesting and useful revision for those applying under one of the skilled Migration programs.
The Rudd Government will revise the migration program for the second half of 2008-09 so that skilled migrants who have a confirmed job, or have skills in critical need will be given priority for a permanent visa to come to Australia.
In a statement tabled in Parliament today, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, said the changes, effective from 1 January, will ensure that the Skilled Migration program is driven by the requirements of industry and targets skills in critical need across a number of sectors.
‘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.
‘In light of the changing economic circumstances, the Rudd Government has reviewed the Skilled Migration program and consulted business and industry along with state and territory governments Australia-wide about their skills needs.
‘The overwhelming message is that we need to maintain a Skilled Migration program but one that is more targeted.
‘There were concerns that the permanent Skilled Migration program was not delivering the right skills to the right areas and there was an increasing use of the temporary skilled migration program (Subclass 457 visa) by employers to meet their needs.
‘The existing 133 500 planning target will remain as a ceiling, with the actual number of visas granted to be kept under review for the remainder of 2008-09.
‘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.
Senator Evans said about 80 per cent of employer-sponsored visas are granted to people who were already living and working in Australia on temporary visas. Fast-tracking the grant of these visas will provide greater certainty to employers and increase the number of visas granted onshore.
Where a person has applied to migrate to Australia without an employer sponsor, they will be given priority if they have an occupation on a list of skills in critical shortage.
The list of skills in critical shortage will focus 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.
Under the previous arrangements, more than 10 000 applications from engineers, medical professionals and other skilled migrants were sitting in the queue and may have had to wait more than a year before being considered.
‘Fast-tracking professionals on the critical skills list will ensure that the economy gets the skills it needs now, not just those applicants who applied first,’ Senator Evans said.
The government has also given state and territory governments’ greater scope to address the critical skill needs in their jurisdiction. This reflects the different economies that have developed across the country.
As a result of these measures, the 2008-09 skilled migration program will be more targeted in delivering the skills needed in the economy, while increasing the number of visas granted to those already in Australia and currently in jobs. While the existing planning target remains in place as a ceiling, the government retains the ability to cap the program below that figure if necessary.
The skilled migration program was significantly increased in the May Budget from 102 500 to 133 500 places to ease nationwide skills shortages.
Senator Evans said a report released earlier in the year by respected economic analyst Access Economics shows that new migrants to Australia deliver hundreds of millions of dollars to the Commonwealth budget and the broader economy every year.
In its Migrant Fiscal Impact Model: 2008 Update, Access Economics found that the fiscal benefits from taxation and visa charges far outweighed the costs that migrants impose on health, education, welfare, employment and settlement services.
‘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.’
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More info here: Changes to the 2008 – 2009 Skilled Migration program (Opens in new window)