The Rudd Government will revise the migration program for the second half of 2008-09 so that skilled migrants who have a confirmed job, or have skills in critical need will be given priority for a permanent visa to come to Australia.

In a statement tabled in Parliament today, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, said the changes, effective from 1 January, will ensure that the Skilled Migration program is driven by the requirements of industry and targets skills in critical need across a number of sectors.

'This will ensure our migration program is more responsive to the needs of the economy and assists industries still experiencing skills shortages,' Senator Evans said.

'In light of the changing economic circumstances, the Rudd Government has reviewed the Skilled Migration program and consulted business and industry along with state and territory governments Australia-wide about their skills needs.

'The overwhelming message is that we need to maintain a Skilled Migration program but one that is more targeted.

'There were concerns that the permanent Skilled Migration program was not delivering the right skills to the right areas and there was an increasing use of the temporary skilled migration program (Subclass 457 visa) by employers to meet their needs.

'The existing 133 500 planning target will remain as a ceiling, with the actual number of visas granted to be kept under review for the remainder of 2008-09.

'To meet immediate skills needs, the government will fast-track the processing of sponsored permanent migration visas, where skilled migrants are nominated by employers for jobs that cannot be filled locally.

'This could see employer sponsored visas occupying an increasing share of the skilled program, with 36 000 visas likely in the current year,' the minister said.

Senator Evans said about 80 per cent of employer-sponsored visas are granted to people who were already living and working in Australia on temporary visas. Fast-tracking the grant of these visas will provide greater certainty to employers and increase the number of visas granted onshore.

Where a person has applied to migrate to Australia without an employer sponsor, they will be given priority if they have an occupation on a list of skills in critical shortage.

The list of skills in critical shortage will focus on medical and key IT professionals, engineers and construction trades. The occupations on the critical skills list are the ones most frequently sought by employers through sponsorship.

Under the previous arrangements, more than 10 000 applications from engineers, medical professionals and other skilled migrants were sitting in the queue and may have had to wait more than a year before being considered.

'Fast-tracking professionals on the critical skills list will ensure that the economy gets the skills it needs now, not just those applicants who applied first,' Senator Evans said.
The government has also given state and territory governments

 

"Choosing the right migration consultant is difficult.  I consulted with many Migration Agents, but Opal Consulting impressed me a lot.  I applied for a visa for my husband, which was rejected.  After some time my friends suggested that I try "Opal Consulting".  I was amazed with their professionalism and the way they arranged my documents. They kept me up to date throughout the whole process.  We got the visa after 3 months. Yeah!  Finally I was so happy to see my husband after 3 years and with hard struggle."

Regina Shrestha

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