Australian immigration officers hosting skilled migration seminars in Queensland

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Australian immigration officers will be attending the 2012 Xstrata Mount Isa Mining Expo in Queensland from 16-18 May in order to provide information on Australian visa programs and the upcoming changes to the skilled migration program.

Australian immigration's new skilled worker program will be called the Skilled Migrant Selection Register, known as SkillSelect. From 1 July 2012, in order to apply, you will have to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI). The SkillSelect will work as an electronic two-stage process where prospective visa applicants first submit a claim for skilled migration through an online EOI. Following this, applicants may then be invited to submit an Australian visa application on the basis of their EOI.

"These new arrangements are designed to better respond to labour market demands and form part of ongoing reform of the skilled migration program," a Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) spokesman said. "This will give the government greater control and flexibility to adjust to changes in the economy."

Additionally, the employer nomination scheme and the regional sponsored migration scheme will be integrated with SkillSelect. This will incorporate both the employer nominated and regional sponsored migration schemes. The number of visa categories will be reduced from the current six separate subclasses into two subclasses: Employer Nomination Scheme (Subclass 186) and the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (subclass 187).

From 1 July, there will also be a fast-tracked path from the 457 visa to permanent residence under the employer-sponsored visa program, enabling skilled migrants to settle and work in Australia.

The immigration officers attending the expo will be available to employers and employees to answer their questions about Australia's skilled migration programs.

"The department's regional visits program enables employers in communities outside capital cities to attend information sessions and to sit and talk directly with an immigration officer about specific issues they may face," a department spokesman said.

Immigration officers will also be visiting Port Lincoln from 23-24 May and Karratha, Port Hedland and Newman in WA's Pilbara region from 22-24 May to discuss the skilled migration program changes.

It is expected that under the Australian immigration system fewer people will qualify and processing times will be longer. If you wish to come under the current skilled immigration programme you should apply for a skills assessment as soon as possible. You need to be ready with your skills assessment and, have passed the English language test before you can submit your immigration application.

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