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Changes in skilled migration visas to help boost Australian brain gain

The Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Amanda Vanstone, and the Minister for Education, Science and Training, Julie Bishop have announced new migration plans which will allow international graduate students from Australia’s universities to apply for temporary work visas. AVCC President Professor Gerard Sutton regards these changes as being positive for Australia’s international education as they will increase the attractiveness of Australia as a study destination, thus ensuring that Australia retains its competitive edge in international education. The changes are expected to be implemented between the second half of 2006 and the first half of 2007.

The joint announcement follows the Australian’s government decision to make some changes to the selection criteria for residence visa, which would allow them to attract the best skilled migrants. This decision was based on the results of an independent evaluation of the general skilled migration categories, where it emerged that a good level of English and relevant work experience are important factors for skilled migrants to succeed in the Australian labour market. The Australian government has therefore decided to:

  • Increase the base level of English language proficiency to be demonstrated by applicants for skilled migration visas;
  • Allocate more points for performance above the base level in English proficiency tests;
  • Place greater emphasis on skilled work experience.

The granting of temporary work visa for Australia’s international graduate students is intended to allow those among them, wishing to apply for permanent residency in Australia, to gain the relevant work experience which is now requested by the new criteria for the residence visa, in an attempt to increase the students’ chances to succeed with their visa application.