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Planning shift to Australia? Get ready for new rules

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By Ishani Duttagupta, ET Bureau: NEW DELHI: Come July 1, 2011 and the immigration rules of Australia, one of the favourite destinations for skilled Indians, are set to change in a big way.

Under the new system, which is being partly introduced from July 1, 2011 and to a larger extent a year from now, Australia is revamping its skilled migration programme through the introduction of a new skilled occupation list and a new points test, which is the foundation of skilled immigration to the country.

"From July 1, 2011, the points test will be changed considerably. We are raising the age limit for unsponsored applicants from 45 to 50 if they have the required qualifications and experience to apply under the relevant category," Peter Speldewinde, assistant secretary, labour market branch, Australian department of immigration and citizenship, announced in Delhi.

Further, while calculating points for skilled immigration, the Australian government will now recognise degrees from reputed colleges and universities outside Australia, which will help Indian applications in a big way. Overseas work experience will also be recognised in calculating points. From July 1, 2012, Australia will introduce far bigger changes to its skilled migration programme.

In a system that is already being followed by the New Zealand immigration authorities, Australia will introduce an online self-assessment followed by an expression of interest by the applicants. "The information will go into a centralised registry system from which the applicants will be invited as and when the requirement comes up for their skillsets," Speldewinde said.

The new migration programme is largely aimed at skilled immigrants and will help the country in filling critical skills needs. In 2011-12, the Australian government has pegged its net overseas migration numbers at 170,000 to 180,000 over the next few years. About two-thirds of the numbers will be for skilled migrants to help fill critical needs, particularly in regional areas.

The skill stream intake is pegged at 125,850 with 16000 places allocated to the regional sponsored migration scheme. Another category, the temporary residence subclass 457 programme the main vehicle providing quick and flexible short-term responses to immediate skills shortages, is also being changed.

"Under this category, the Australian government will negotiate new enterprise migration agreements with large employers in the growing resources sector. The agreements will help them access temporary skilled overseas labour that cannot be found locally and the numbers will be based on projects and the umbrella agreements and the visas will be strictly on a temporary basis," Speldewinde said.


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