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Skilled migration changes to boost economy.
The Hon. Philip Ruddock MP
Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs
SKILLED MIGRATION CHANGES TO BOOST ECONOMY
The changes flowing from the review of the points test used to select the majority of skilled migrants will be a further positive for the Australian economy, the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, the Hon. Philip Ruddock, announced today.
In announcing the first major changes to the now almost 10 year old points test, Mr Ruddock said that the changes will seek to maximise the economic benefits confirmed by a comparison of the 1995-96 migration intake with the 1997-98 intake.
“According to economic modelling commissioned by my Department, Australia will be some $95 per person better off as a result of the greater focus placed on these categories of the Migration Program”, Mr Ruddock said.
“The changes flowing from the review, to be implemented from 1 July 1999, will build on these valuable results, with the modelling demonstrating that further economic benefits of the order of $39 per person could be generated”.
Mr Ruddock said that a major change to the Independent and Skilled Australian Linked (SAL) categories will be to establish minimum threshold criteria for skills (including skilled employment experience), age and English language ability to the entire Independent and SAL categories.
“From 1 July 1999, all new applicants in these categories will have to be less than 45 years of age, have vocational level English and have a skilled occupation with qualifications recognised in Australia.
“Establishment of minimum thresholds will not only do away with some anomalies in the current points test but will also enable us to introduce other factors more focused on obtaining employment in Australia”.
The additional employability factors include:
* 5 additional points where the applicant’s spouse also meets the threshold requirements for skills, age and English language ability;
* 5 additional points where the applicant obtained their diploma, trade certificate or degree from an Australian educational institution (this was introduced from 1 July 1998);
* 5 bonus points if an applicant satisfies at least one of the following:
(i) six months recent Australian work experience in a skilled occupa tion; or
(ii) commitment to bring a high level of capital to Australia demonstrated by depositing $100,000 in an approved Government investment for a minimum of 12 months; or
(iii) a high level of fluency in the national language of one of Australia’s majo r trading partners or in the language of one of Australia’s major ethnic communities.
“These factors have been identified as important attributes for migrants who would contribute to Australia’s long-term development and international competitiveness. The se are the migrants who create economic and employment growth.”
Mr Ruddock said changes will also be made to increase occupational targeting in these categories.
“A mechanism to recognise occupations that are likely to be in strong demand in the future is to be included in the points test as well as recognising the value of ‘job offers’ in such occupations.
“Additionally, measures to further increase the ability of State and Territory Governments to select skilled migrants needed in their jurisdictions will also be enhanced from 1 July 1999 based on consultation with the Commonwealth/State Working Party on Long-Term Skilled Migration Options.
To ensure migrants selected through the skilled category are able to support themselves immediately on arrival, t here will be greater emphasis on the interviewing of applicants.
In addition, Skilled Australia-Linked (SAL) migrants will be required to obtain an Assurance of Support bond of $4,000 for the principal applicant and $2,000 for each adult dependent. The person providing the Assurance of Support will need to demonstrate they are financially capable of providing support by meeting a minimum taxable income test.
“Points currently allocated for factors not related to employability will be abolished while points for relationship in the SAL category will be increased to 15 for all eligible types of family relationships”, Mr Ruddock said.
Processing of applications in these categories will be streamlined by requiring applicants to nominate their occupation and have their skills assessed by the relevant expert professional body rather than by DIMA decision-makers.
This assessment will be r equired to be undertaken before a migration application is made or migration application fees are paid.
Mr Ruddock said that there would be no change to the overall size or composition of the 1998-99 Migration Program as a result of these changes.
Thursday, 27 August, 1998
Media Inquiries: Brad Robinson (02) 6277 7860 or 0419 278 715.
The Executive Summary and Recommendations from the review are available on request from the Independent and Australia Linked Section of the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs by phoning (02) 6264 1487 .