The Australian government will implement a number of regional migration initiatives and will increase permanent immigration during the 2011-12 fiscal year.
The increase in permanent migration visas to 185,000 will make Australia an even more popular destination for skilled individuals looking to live and work abroad.
"This has provided scope for a moderate increase in the migration program in 2011-12, while maintaining more sustainable annual levels of net overseas migration – in the region of 170,000–180,000 over the next few years," said Immigration Minister Chris Bowen.
Two thirds of the increase in immigration levels will be for skilled migrants to fill critical labour shortages. The skilled migration stream will be set at 125,850 visas, with 16,000 visas allocated to the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme.
"Regional visas will also be afforded the highest processing priority to recognise the needs of employers and encourage regional migration," DIAC said in a statement.
"This government recognises that different regions face different opportunities and pressures. The patchwork nature of the Australian labour market means it's important to recognise unique local circumstances and tailor migration solutions accordingly," Bowen said.
"Regional Migration Agreements will offer a coordinated, localised response to labour needs, helping local areas to implement workforce strategies that support growth while ensuring local workers remain the first choice for employers and industry," he added.
Temporary 475 visa holders who have spent two or more years in regional areas will also have their request for permanent residency fast-tracked if their employer will continue to sponsor them for an additional two years.
These changes will make Australia an attractive choice for skilled workers. If you are interested in living and working in Australia, fill out a free online assessment form and one of our representatives will contact you shortly.