Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Australia to give nod to highly skilled migrants

Australia announced changes to its skills-based permanent immigration program. Among the major changes, it immediately revoked the Migration Occupations in Demand List, carrying 106 jobs, including many less skilled and no longer in demand. An independent body, Skills Australia, is going to develop a Skilled Occupations List (SOL), which will be reviewed annually. To be introduced mid-year, SOL is going to focus on high value professions and trades. International students who hold a vocational, higher education or post-graduate student visa will still be able to apply for a permanent visa if their occupation is on the new SOL. If not, they will have until December 31, 2012, to apply for a temporary skilled graduate visa on completion of their studies, which will allow them to spend up to 18 months in Australia to gain work experience and seek sponsorship from an employer.

The country will also phase out the Critical Skills List, introduced in early 2009. In addition, to select the best and brightest, it plans to review the points test used to assess migrants. Certain occupations might be capped to make sure skill needs are met across the board. The Migration Act will be amended this year to give the minister the power to set the maximum number of visas that may be granted to applicants in any one occupation, if need be. This will ensure that the Skilled Migration Program is not dominated by a handful of occupations.

Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Chris Evans, said the new arrangements would give first preference to skilled migrants who have a job to go to with an Australian employer. Evans said that some "unscrupulous migration agents" have been "misleading international students into believing that completion of a course in Australia gave them an automatic entitlement to permanent residence. It does not and it will not. A student visa is just that: a visa to study."

Source: Hindustan Times, February 17, 2010

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