Foreign doctors, nurses and school teachers who speak good English and have jobs already organised will be Australia’s top priority migrants under new policy

Australian Immigration Minister Chris Evans announced Monday several reforms to his country’s immigration policy, including several policy changes aimed at attracting more highly-skilled immigrants to the country.

Criticizing the ongoing trend for new immigrants to enroll for vocational courses for gaining residency, Evans said that Australia would change the current list of 106 skills in demand and review a points test based on qualifications, skills and proficiency in English currently used to assess migrants. He said that the present list will now be replaced by a “more targeted” Skilled Occupations List.

“We had tens of thousands of students studying cookery and accounting and hairdressing because that was on the list and that got them through to permanent residency,” Evans told Australian radio, adding that such courses will no longer be an assured path to permanent residence.

“The current points test puts an overseas student with a short-term vocational qualification gained in Australia ahead of a Harvard-educated environmental scientist,” Evans said.

“We want to make sure we’re getting the high-end applicants,” Evans said, stressing that the changes brought about by the new immigration policies would try to attract more health workers, including more doctors and nurses, as well more qualified professionals in the fields of engineering and mining.

“The new arrangements will give first priority to skilled migrants who have a job to go to with an Australian employer. For those who don’t have an Australian employer willing to sponsor them, the bar is being raised,” Evans said.

“If hospitals are crying out for and willing to sponsor nurses, then of course they should have priority over the 12,000 un-sponsored cooks who have applied and who, if they were all granted visas, would flood the domestic market,” he added.

Evans also pointed out that some 170,000 people applied for living and working permanently in Australia last year alone, when there were just 108,000 vacancies available. He added that all lower-skilled applications lodged before 1st September 2007 would be withdrawn and application fees worth A$14 million ($12.15 million) refunded.

The reforms in Australia’s immigration policy comes in wake of reports that thousands of students from overseas, mainly from Asia, were manipulating the existing system by providing fraud documents to enroll for vocational courses at private Australian colleges, purely to gain residency permits.

SOURCE

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