Australian immigration to visit India and Sri Lanka

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Australian Immigration and Citizenship Minister Chris Bowen is visiting India and Sri Lanka this week to discuss further cooperation on border and immigration activities. He will also be answering questions about recent and upcoming changes to Australia's skilled migration programme.

"I look forward to deepening Australia's relationship with both India and Sri Lanka through beneficial discussions on a range of issues of importance to our countries," Bowen said.

Bowen will be in New Delhi until 2 May, and will discuss Australian migration arrangements and reaffirm the importance Australia places on its longstanding bilateral relationship with India.

"India is now one of Australia's largest and growing sources of general skilled migrants and students," Bowen said, adding "this visit is particularly timely, given the implementation of the Knight Review of student visas and India's place as the second largest source of international students in Australia."

He will also visit Sri Lanka to partake in talks on illegal immigrants and migration reforms with his Sri Lankan counterparts.

"Australia will continue working closely with Sri Lanka on issues relating to people smuggling, including preventing and disrupting people smuggling ventures by air and sea," Bowen said. "We appreciate Sri Lanka's ongoing cooperation in the area of people smuggling, in particular its new people smuggling legislation which will work to promote regular migration avenues for Sri Lankan nationals."

The visit is important so Australian immigration can outline changes to the general skilled migration programme and changes to student visas associated with the Knight Review.

From 1 July 2012, under Australia's Skill Select program, Australian skilled immigration applicants will have to submit an expression of interest before submitting their application. This is likely to mean fewer people qualifying for skilled immigration and a longer processing time. 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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