Federal Government tightens skilled migration

Federal Immigration Minister Chris Evans has announced a raft of changes to Australia’s skilled migration scheme that will make it harder for some migrants to get permanent visas and give priority to migrants in areas with chronic skills shortages, such a

Federal Immigration Minister Chris Evans has announced a raft of changes to Australia’s skilled migration scheme that will make it harder for some migrants to get permanent visas and give priority to migrants in areas with chronic skills shortages, such as health, IT and construction.

While the Government has left Australia’s skilled migration cap in place at 133,500, the number of skilled migrants is likely to fall due to the tighter restrictions. Evans has also reserved the right to review the number of visas that are granted in light of worsening economic conditions.

The biggest changes to the skilled migration system involve changes to the list of occupations that get priority status for fast-tracked visas. Evans says the “critical skills list”, which is yet to be released, will focus on areas such as IT, construction, engineering and medicine. Hairdressers and chefs will be removed from the priority list.

“The overwhelming message is that we need to maintain a skilled migration program but one that is more targeted,” Evans says.

“There were concerns that the permanent skilled migration program was not delivering the right skills to the right areas.”

The Australian Industry Group says it is comfortable with the changes and pleased that the migration cap has not been reduced.

“Ai Group had been concerned that any potential cut to the immigration program would have carried economic risks,” says chief executive Heather Ridout. “Considering that there can be as much as a two year lag between application and arrival, any cut in the program today would have delivered a cut in the skilled migrant intake just as we were emerging from the economic crisis.”

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