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Published on February 7th, 2010 | by


Australia rejects 20,000 migrants ; changes to affect UK skilled workers

The Immigration Minister for Australia, Chris Evans, is set to announce a major overhaul of the immigration system that will prioritise doctors, nurses and school teachers.

The system that allocates potential migrants points based on their qualifications and skills will be restructured.

The changes are expected to target professionals with university degrees who are sponsored by employers and discourage self-nominating migrants such as cooks, hairdressers and accountants.

The new policy will axe the Migration Occupations on Demand List, which lists 106 occupations in demand, but not the Critical Skills List. Additionally, some 20,000 foreigners who applied to migrate to Australia before September 2007 will have their applications withdrawn and their $1500-$2000 applications fees refunded under the changes.

“The current points test puts an overseas student with a short-term vocational qualification gained in Australia ahead of a Harvard-educated environmental scientist,” Senator Evans said.

Details of the new system are not yet available, but it is likely (according to the Sydney Morning Herald) to give potential migrants more points if they are qualified in certain high-value professions and trades, went to a prestigious university, have more experience and display excellence in English.

The Immigration Minister will have the power to set the level of visas that will be awarded for any one occupation, and the states will be able to prioritise specific skilled migrants.

Noting that “Australia’s skilled migration program has been delivering self-nominated migrants from a narrow range of occupations with poor to moderate English language skills who struggle to find employment in their nominated occupation” Senator Evans seems determined to shift the immigration system from a supply led model (where there are a huge number of migrants clamouring to get into the country) to a demand – led one, where employers sponsor migrants in a particular occupation.

He is particularly keen to end a scenario whereby Australia’s hospitals need nurses and doctors and competition is fierce with other countries. Conversely there are 12,000 foreign cooks waiting to come to Australia. Under the existing system 40,000 unsponsored visas were issued to accountants over the past five years yet a shortage of accountants persists because most did not get work in the profession.

The changes will also affect overseas students – a $17 billion a year industry for Australia .If the job they are studying for is not on the new list, foreign students will not be able to apply for a permanent residency visa unless an employer will sponsor them.

Senator Evans says in recognition of the problems the changes could cause for colleges and existing overseas students, he is temporarily allowing them to spend 18 months in Australia after graduation to work and seek sponsorship from employers.

If you would like to find out more about the changes to Australia’s migration system or find out what your options are if you want to move down under, then come along to Down Under Live in Leeds on the 27th and 28th March 2010.

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