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Australia's new immigration rules will benefit Indians in getting fast-track permanent residence

The Economic Times - July 11, 2011. The new immigration programme of the Australian government, the first phase of which kicked off on July 1, is largely a move away from the earlier migration occupations in demand list to the introduction of a new skilled occupation list. The new list will be more in tune with the economic ground realities in Australia and focus on highly skilled immigrants. It will be developed by an independent body - Skills Australia - and will address specific needs of regional labour markets.

"To begin with, the new rules focus on higher qualifications and better English language skills in the points test. And there's some good news too. "The age limit for unsponsored applicants is being raised from 45 to 50 if they have the required qualifications and experience," Peter Speldewinde, assistant secretary, labour market branch, Australian department of immigration and citizenship, announced recently in Delhi. Another change that is being welcomed in India is that the Australian government will now recognise degrees from reputed colleges and universities outside Australia and overseas work experience will also be recognised.

"The fact that degrees from some Indian institutions will now be recognised by the Australian government is welcome. However, so far, the number from India is too small," says Ravi Lochan Singh, MD of education consultancy Global Reach and president Association of Australian Education Representatives in India.

Higher education in Australia too is likely to become more attractive for Indian students. With the new points test and later the new skilled occupations list in place, applications of Indian students who apply for permanent residence would now be assessed on a wider perspective than just the qualification gained during their study in Australia.

"The new system focuses on qualifications obtained in Australia and overseas, better targeted age range and extensive skilled employment. Studying in Australia will allow students to gain bonus points based on meeting Australian study requirement, studying in a regional area and professional year programme," says Harmeet Pental, regional director (South Asia), IDP Education, an organisation representing Australian universities.

Self-assessment Rules

The new skilled occupation list, which will become operational from July 1, 2012, is being seen as more generic and simplified than the earlier one, in industry circles. 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. "The new immigration rules are likely to improve the skills pool in the country. So far, when we interview candidates for engineering jobs, we often find them lacking in some areas," says Venkat Garipati, who heads a division of a large Sydney-based construction company. He is also upbeat about the fact that the age limit for applicants has been raised. "Often there are senior bureaucrats in India who want to follow their children here," Garipati adds.

Australia has pegged its net overseas migration numbers at about 180,000 over the next few years. About two-thirds of the number will be for skilled migrants. The skill stream intake is pegged at 125,850 with 16,000 places allocated to the regional sponsored migration scheme. "The new skills list makes the application process far more predictable for highly skilled applicants," says Mumbai-based immigration lawyer, Poorvi Chothani."


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