Australia to Overhaul Immigration System, Smooth Entry for Skilled Workers

Australia on Thursday proposed overhauling its immigration system to attract highly skilled workers to the country and ease the path to permanent residency.

The federal Labor government said the current system used to select skilled migrants – the points test – would be modified to identify people with the right skills needed to drive the Australian economy forward.

“Our migration system … is broken. It’s failing our businesses, it’s failing migrants themselves. And most importantly, it’s failing Australians. It cannot continue,” Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neill said in a speech at the National Press Club.

Australia is competing with comparable countries such as Canada and Germany to attract more skilled migrants, with an aging population fueling demand.

The government said the visa process for highly-skilled professionals would be made faster and easier, while steps would be taken to retain international students.

Temporary skilled visa holders, who were also denied the opportunity to apply for permanent residency, will be able to do so by the end of this year, O’Neill said. But that would not add to Australia’s annual intake of permanent migrants, she said.

In September, Australia increased its number of permanent migrants to 195,000 this financial year, pledging more staff and funding to help businesses struggling with widespread staff shortages and to speed up the visa process.

From July 1, the government said it would raise the migrant wage threshold for temporary skilled workers from A$53,900 to A$70,000 ($46,250), which has been stuck at the same level since 2013.

About 90% of full-time jobs in Australia are now paid above the current threshold, leading to the exploitation of migrant workers, the government said.

($1 = 1.5135 Australian dollars)

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(This story has not been edited by News 18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)