Immigration Minister Chris Evans had the following to say:
The Australian Government has said that immigration should be demand rather than supply driven. It should meet the needs of the economy in where there are shortages of highly skilled workers currently in healthcare, engineering and mining. The major changes to skilled migration are as follows:
- About 20,000 skilled immigration applicants will have their applications cancelled and will have their visa fees refunded. This will affect offshore General Skilled Migration applications submitted before 1 September 2007. At that time there were lower English language and less rigorous work experience requirements. The Immigration Department will refund the visa application fees at a cost of about Australian $14 million. Most applications include more than one person and on average cost between $1500 and $2000.
- The list of occupations will in future only include highly skilled migrants. Many prospective migrants with lower level skills will no longer qualify. The Immigration Minister says that the Migration Occupations in Demand List (MODL) is outdated and so has been revoked with immediate effect. He also said that it contains 106 occupations many of which are not highly skilled occupations and also includes occupations which are not currently in demand. Skills Australia an independent organisation will provide a new Skilled Occupations List (SOL) which will be reviewed on an annual basis. The new skilled occupation list will focus on higher level professions and trades. The Critical Skills List introduced at the beginning of 2009 during the global financial crisis which covered occupations in critical demand will be phased out
- There will be a review of the points test which is likely to mean that only more highly skilled people will qualify. The review will consider whether more points should be awarded for certain occupations and better English ability and whether points should be awarded for qualifications from overseas universities.
- There may be a maximum limit on the number of people admitted in a particular occupation. This is to prevent people in a limited number of occupations taking up disproportionately large number of the skilled migration program visas.
- State and territory specific immigration plans will receive priority. Each state and territory has different skills requirements. Migrants sponsored by a State and Territory Government will be processed before applications for independent skilled immigration.
Immigration Minister Chris Evan said that first priority would be given to skilled migrants with an Australian job offer. It will be more difficult for those without a job offer. Mr Evans also had the following to say:
'There are plenty of occupations where there is an adequate supply of young Australians coming through our schools, TAFE colleges and universities to take up new job opportunities. They must be given the opportunity to fill these vacancies first.'
'But there are some occupations where there will be high demand for skills. Hospitals can't go without nurses, country towns can't do without a local GP and the resources sector increasingly needs skills.
'These latest changes will continue reforms already implemented by the government and result in a more demand-driven skilled migration program that attracts highly skilled migrants to Australia to work in areas of critical need.'
There are some transitional arrangements as the changes may affect some students currently in Australia. International students with a vocational, higher education or postgraduate student visa will be able to apply for skilled immigration if their occupation is on the new Skilled Occupations List. If the students do not have an occupation on the new Skilled occupation they have until 31 December 2012 to apply for a temporary skilled graduate visa after completing their studies. They can then spend 18 months in Australia to gain work experience and find a job.