Skilled migration requirements for foreign workers tightened

New rules apply from September 1, 2007

Australia will introduce major changes to the General Skilled Migration (GSM) program from September 1, 2007.

The program is a points-based system designed to bring in skilled foreign workers, including IT staff.

Some of the key changes include tightening requirements in English language proficiency, increased emphasis on skilled work experience, and simplifying the GSM visa structure.

A new temporary work visa will be introduced for graduates as well.

Previously, a potential skilled migrant needed to reach an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score of 5 (vocational) in all four components to pass the English language requirement for coming under the General Skilled Migration program.

This threshold will be raised to 6 (competent). Applicants applying for trade occupations will only be required to reach a threshold IELTS score of 5.

Bonus points will be given to those who achieve English language proficiency scores above the threshold level.

According to a spokesperson for the Australian immigration department, there will be "tighter requirements on links between study, work experience and nominated occupation."

For example, more emphasis has been placed on past work experience within Australia. Applicants who have 12 months previous skilled work experience in Australia will gain 10 points.

Currently, there are 15 GSM visa subclasses. Under the new changes this number will be reduced to nine.

International students unable to meet the new requirements for a skilled visa will have an opportunity to apply for an 18 month Skilled-Graduate visa.

Applications lodged before August 31, 2007 will not be affected.

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