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Australia's skills and migrants to increase.



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Senator Amanda Vanstone MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION AND MULTICULTURAL AND INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS

Australia's Skills and Migrants to Increase

VPS 059/2004

Today the Government has moved to increase both the skills and numbers of migrants coming to Australia and in particular to focus migration to regional Australia.

To increase the skills of migrants coming to Australia the passmark for the general skilled independent visa categories for permanent residence will be raised from 115 to 120. Rising demand for migration to Australia allows us to attract migrants with higher levels of skill. The passmark was last increased in 2002.

To protect international students currently completing their studies in Australia the new passmark will not apply to those who apply before April 2005.

The number of migrants coming to Australia will also increase because 5 000 additional places will be allocated to the new two stage Skilled independent visa. This special visa was announced in January and is available to those people who can't meet the new passmark but do meet the 2002 standard, provided they commit to living and working in regional Australia.

This increase will help States and territories to match migrants to skill shortages and economic needs.

States who want skilled migrants will have the opportunity to sponsor them under this visa. States who don't want them will not sponsor them.

More doctors will also be brought to Australia. The revised program provides for an extra 1 000 places for doctors and their families in 2004/05.

Modelling by Access Economics estimates that the migration program will contribute over $4 Billion to the Commonwealth Budget over the next four years.

The 2004-05 Program continues the Government's strong commitment to managed migration in the national interest.

We expect to deliver the largest Skill Stream in Australia's history at around 77 000 people. Over 70 000 visas in 2003-04 will be delivered.

The new Program also ensures that Australia's working age population will continue to grow past the middle of this century, rather than decline as it would without immigration.

A likely outcome for the 2004/05 Migration (non-Humanitarian) Program will be around 120 000 places.

01 April 2004