Major changes to Australia's skilled migration program

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On 01 September 2007, Australia will introduce major changes to their General Skilled Migration (GSM) program, a points-based system designed to bring in skilled foreign workers. Some of the key changes include tightening requirements in English language proficiency, increased emphasis on skilled work experience, and simplifying the GSM visa structure. A new temporary work visa will be introduced for graduates as well.

Previously, a potential skilled migrant needed to reach an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score of 5 (vocational) in all four components to pass the English language requirement for coming under the General Skilled Migration program. This threshold will be raised to 6 (competent). Applicants applying for trade occupations will only be required to reach a threshold IELTS score of 5, however. Bonus points will be given to those who achieve English language proficiency scores above the threshold level.

According to the Australian immigration department, there will be "tighter requirements on links between study, work experience and nominated occupation." For example, more emphasis has been placed on past work experience within Australia. Applicants who have 12 months previous skilled work experience in Australia will gain 10 points.

Currently, there are 15 GSM visa subclasses. Under the new changes this number will be reduced to nine so that applicants will be able to more easily identify the visa subclass best suited to their chosen field of work.

International students unable to meet the new requirements for a skilled visa will have an opportunity to apply for an 18 month Skilled-Graduate visa. This will allow them to increase their work experience and hone their skills; hopefully to enable them a better chance of coming under the GSM after the visa expires. The Skilled-Graduate visa will be unrestricted in relation to work.

Those making application on or before 31 August 2007 will not be affected.


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