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Employers and students to gain from changes to visas.

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Employers and Students to Gain from Changes to Visas

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Amanda Vanstone, today announced a raft of visa changes to benefit employers, overseas students and skilled migrants.

The Minister said changes to the Migration Regulations would give overseas students more opportunities to study, train and work in Australia under a range of visa options.

‘A new Trade Skills Training Visa will give employers the opportunity to recruit young people from overseas to undertake an apprenticeship that combines both on-the-job training and classroom-based learning in regional areas of Australia,’ the Minister said.

‘This gives them the chance to get a trade qualification that will equip them with skills in demand by employers who cannot find skilled staff locally.’

From 1 November, overseas students will also be able to apply, on completion of their studies in Australia, for an Occupational Trainee Visa to undertake up to 12 months of supervised on-the-job training in their area of expertise. Employers will also be able to offer overseas students practical employment experience on an occupational trainee visa where this leads to registration in their chosen profession in Australia.

In addition, the Working Holiday Maker program has been expanded to help growers get the seasonal harvest labour they need. Working Holiday Makers who have done at least three months seasonal harvest work in regional Australia will be able to apply for a second, 12 month Working Holiday Maker visa. People from all 19 countries with which Australia has a reciprocal WHM arrangement are eligible.

In addition, Working Holiday Makers and Occupational Trainees will be allowed to apply for and obtain a Skilled Independent Regional (SIR) visa without leaving Australia. This measure will significantly expand the pool of people available for sponsorship by state governments and regional authorities under the SIR visa.

‘These changes reflect the Government’s commitment to helping Australian employers access the labour they need,’ the Minister said.

Student Visa Assessment Levels for a number of countries and education sectors are also being reduced. This reflects the improved visa compliance of overseas students from these countries, and will provide more people with the opportunity to study in Australia.

‘These changes will benefit not only overseas students, but provide a larger pool of qualified people for Australian businesses to choose from,’ the Minister said.

Changes have also been made to the Professional Development Visa, which provides tailored training to overseas professionals and executives. From 1 November, it will be possible for Australian sponsors to provide funding assistance to visa applicants and for applicants to fund all of their costs, other than tuition. Previously, funding was restricted to overseas employers. This change should enable increased participation by Australia’s international education industry in this niche market. Duration of programs has been increased from 12 to 18 months and the bond has been reduced from $100 000 to $15 000 to encourage the participation of more sponsors.

31 October 2005