Skilled migrants are at the top of Australia’s wish list according to the new Federal Budget, with almost 70 per cent of migration program visas allocated to addressing skill shortages.

The 2014-15 migration program will continue to be dominated by the Skilled Stream, with 128 550 visas reserved for skilled migrants, 60 885 places for family migration and 565 special eligibility stream visas.

The overall number of visas available will remain steady at 190 000.

The Budget also foreshadowed a reprioritisation of employer-sponsored visas. One thousand places were reallocated from the skilled independent stream to the employer-sponsored categories, along with promises of measures to assist businesses find workers that are not readily available within the local labour market.

“With the reprioritisation towards employer-sponsored visas, employers will be assisted in finding workers to fill vital positions where they have been unable to find local workers,” said Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Scott Morrison.

“This also protects Australian workers, who will have less direct competition from independent migrants who arrive without a guaranteed job.”

On the family side of the ledger, Minister Morrison announced a minor increase in the number of Partner and Child visas available, a decision which was made “in recognition of the strong social and economic benefits of close family reunion.”

Industry response

In a subsequent media release, peak industry body Migration Institute of Australia applauded certain aspects of the Budget, such as its long-term focus on skill development in regional areas and extension of streamlined processing services to the VET sector.

However it also raised several concerns, in particular regarding adjustments to the Family Stream, with Partner and Child visas to come at the expense other family application types such as carer, remaining relative and non-contributory parent visas.

Migration Solutions Managing Director, Mark Glazbrook, said that whilst the budget has been criticised for being tough, there isn’t enough information directly relating to Australia’s migration program – other than the announcement of the removal of a number of permanent visas – to draw conclusions.

He also suggested the removal could be eluding to a new line of temporary long-term parent visas, similar in structure to the old retirement visas, and possible a temporary carer visa to replace the permanent carer visa.

“Other than this the migration program remains the same in terms of permanent grants – 190,000 for 2014/15.  There is a continued focus on demand driven migration within the skilled program, I am hoping that this will also see an increase in departmental resources in this area,” he said.

“Demand driven migration programs are a very useful program, however, barriers to entry such as IELTS 6.0 in each of the 4 parts of the test and processing delays which can see applications take in excess of 12 months need to be improved as these are detrimental to business and not in line with the objectives of this program.

“We really need to wait until the review of the 457 program has been completed before we see any major changes to the Australian migration program and how these changes will shape temporary and permanent employer sponsored migration in South Australia and nationally.”

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