There is less than one month to go before the changes to the Australian skilled migration will come into effect, as outlined in last month’s release of the 2009-10 Budget.
As of the 1 July, the Australian skilled migration program will be downsized again, so that only 108,100 skilled visas are available for people emigrating to Australia. Further, as of this date, the Government will raise the English language requirements for trades occupations in the independent skilled migration pathway so that overseas workers in trade positions are better prepared for working in the Australian workforce.
The Government has made it harder for people emigrating to Australia through the Australian skilled migration program during the recession so that those skilled workers emigrating to Australia support economic growth rather than unnecessarily add to employment competition. Not only has the Government been gradually downsizing the skilled migration program, but it has also implemented a priority processing order for all Australian skilled visas so that the program can target the skills it needs.
Essentially, this means that those Australian visa applications that are employer-sponsored or government-sponsored are given priority for processing because that applicant is filling a specific occupation in the Australian workforce. The Government is also hoping that the government-sponsored and employer-sponsored streams would represent half of all Australian skilled migration visas during the 2009-10 financial year, representing a 30 per cent increase since 2004-05.
In 2004-05, government-sponsored and employer-sponsored streams represented 22 per cent of a much smaller skills program, meaning that only 17,160 sponsored visas were planned during that financial year. The Government’s aim to have 50 per cent of the 108,100 skilled visas in next year’s planning levels (or 54,050 skilled visas) shows a massive turn-around in immigration policy during the past five years.
Secondly, all independent Australian visa applications with a nominated skill listed on the Critical Skills List (CSL) will be next in line for processing, because the Government has confirmed that that skill is in demand in Australia. All other independent Australian visa applications in the skilled stream will be processed thereafter.
While the downsizing of the Australian skilled migration program in June will not have an immediate effect on the progress of an Australian visa application (the program is still running at very high levels), the impending changes to the English language requirements for trades occupations may require people emigrating to Australia to submit their Australian visa application before this date.
The Government has increased the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score from 5 to 6 for those applicants who do not have a sponsor and are using a trade occupation as their nominated skill.
Onshore applicants in this category will also need to complete a job readiness test to have their skills assessed, so that they can prove they have the skills nominated in their Australian skilled migration application. The job readiness test will also need to match that of the tests required from offshore applicants in this category, to ensure that all trades persons applying for non-sponsored skilled migration have the same level of competence.
“The Government has begun the task of constructing a long-term planning framework for migration as a key component of the current reform agenda,” Senator Evans said in a statement last month.