There have been a number of major changes to Australia's skilled migration program recently. Australian immigration believes that these changes are more likely to result in Australia bringing in the type of immigrants needed by the Australian economy. Immigration Minister Chris Evans stressed recently that students with an occupation on the new Skilled Occupation List (SOL) may still be able to apply for permanent residence.
Skills Australia will be responsible for the new SOL. This will be focused on high value skills that it is believed will be needed by Australia now and in the future. The areas covered include healthcare, engineering and mining. The SOL will become available in April and will be reviewed annually.
Overseas students who are already in Australia studying who do not have an occupation on the new SOL will have until the end of 2012 to apply for a temporary skilled graduate visa and will then be able to spend 18 months in Australia to gain work experience and find an Australian employer willing to sponsor them.
The Australian Government is clearly worried that the changes will put off students from coming to Australia. Australian Colleges and Universities depend on overseas students for a significant proportion of their income. Changes to the system will probably mean that fewer students and others will qualify for Australian immigration.