In the 2011 budget speech, the Australian Government announced that it would allocate 16 000 skilled migration places to regional areas of Australia. This initiative will be complemented by Regional Migration Agreements for communities with skill shortages, and the introduction of Enterprise Migration Agreements to enable large resource projects to gain readier access to temporary overseas labour to meet skilled vacancies that cannot be met locally.
In addition to this, Perth (the capital of Western Australia and a city of 1.7 million people) will, for the purposes of skilled migration, be considered a regional city. This action was taken because of widespread skill shortages in Western Australia. This provides employers in Western Australia an easier avenue to recruit skilled workers from overseas and gives skilled temporary visa holders in Perth a more streamlined pathway to permanent migration.
A new points test for General Skilled Migration applicants came into effect on 1 July 2011. The points test is a mechanism used to select skilled migrants expected to offer the greatest economic benefit to Australia. Points are awarded to applicants who have certain skills, attributes and qualifications. Compared with the previous test, the new points test does not give undue weight to any one factor and recognises a broader range of skills and attributes, focussing on:
better English levels
more extensive skilled employment
higher level qualifications obtained in Australia and overseas
better targeted age ranges.
The new points test will continue to award points for study in Australia, including regional study, community languages, partner skills and completing an approved Professional Year. Points will no longer be awarded for specific occupations, although all applicants must still nominate an occupation on the
In 2011, the Australian Government announced that a new skilled migrant selection register, SkillSelect, will be introduced from 1 July 2012. It is designed to ensure Australia can select the best and brightest skilled migrants from a pool of prospective migrants. It will be based on an electronic two-stage process whereby prospective
migrants first submit an expression of interest and may then be invited by the department to make a skilled migration visa application.