Australia skilled migrants to be able to bring same-sex partners

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Skilled migrants to Australia will soon be able to sponsor same sex partners to come to Australia, Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone said.

She said citizens and permanent residents can currently sponsor same sex partners to migrate to Australia but skilled migrants were not offered the same provisions. She said this soon would be changed so skilled migrants could include same sex partners on their visa application.

The new provisions will initially apply to temporary skilled migrants from 1 July 2006 and later to other categories of skilled migrants and students.

"While same sex partners could enter Australia in their own right, often as visitors, the fact that couples were not treated together in the same application created some uncertainty for them and a potential loss for Australia of highly skilled migrants," she said.

"Skilled migrants and students could list heterosexual partners on their visa application, but not same sex partners.

"This change will remove this anomaly."

Senator Vanstone said a number of overseas doctors had indicated they would be willing to work in regional Australia, if it were not for this issue.

"We all know of the serious doctor shortage in regional and remote areas," she said.

"As immigration minister, I was determined to ensure that there were no barriers within my area of responsibility to filling these shortages."