Federal Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews has announced changes that he says will require higher standards of English among people coming to Australia to study and work.
The changes to the General Skilled Migration programme (GSM) will be introduced on 1 September 2007. People who have made an application for a skilled visa on or before 31 August 2007 will not be affected by the changes.
Changes will include:
* increasing the English language threshold for GSM visa applicants
* rewarding GSM visa applicants who have very good English language proficiency
* greater emphasis on skilled work experience
* introduction of a new temporary work visa for graduates
* simplifying the GSM visa structure.
The threshold level of English language proficiency will be raised from an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score of 5 (vocational) to 6 (competent) on all four components. However, applicants applying for trade occupations will be required to meet the current threshold of an IELTS score of 5.
Under the points test system, bonus points will be given to applicants who achieve English language scores above the threshold level and additional points will be allocated for skilled work experience in Australia.
Note: Migration Occupation in Demand List (MODL) points will only be awarded to applicants with at least 12 months experience in their nominated occupation or one that is closely related.
To ensure skilled migrants have the skills Australian employers need, there will be tighter requirements on links between study, work experience and nominated occupation.
International students who are unable to meet the new requirements for a permanent skilled visa will have an opportunity to apply for an 18 month Skilled-Graduate (subclass 485) to build on their skills and work experience. This visa will have unrestricted work rights.
The changes aim to ensure that overseas students who decide to stay on in Australia after completing their studies have a much better chance of competing for jobs in their chosen vocation.
There are currently 15 GSM visa subclasses available to people onshore and offshore, who are wishing to apply to migrate to Australia. Under the new visa structure, this will be reduced to nine visa subclasses – four offshore and five onshore. This new structure enables applicants to more easily identify the visa subclass best suited to their circumstances.
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