Australia Increases Number of Annual Migration Visas

As part of the plan to alleviate the skills shortage in regional Australia, particularly in the booming mining industry, immigration minister Chris Bowen recently announced major changes to the visa programme. These changes include increasing the number of skilled migrant places for the 2011/12 Migration Programme to 185 000, as well as increasing the number of family visas.

For the first time, the Australian government is also actively encouraging skilled workers from outside Australia to apply for temporary visas and work in rural areas. These regional visas will be processed as a priority over others and the lure is that it will eventually be easier for these workers to gain permanent residency.

To qualify under the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme, interested overseas workers will need to prove their trade skills or in-demand professional qualifications, as well as competency in English.

The government also announced the introduction of special migration agreements for big resource projects, where the permanent residency process will be sped up for overseas workers who stay in a regional area on a 457 visa for two years, and whose employer can guarantee another two years’ work.

To find out more about Australian visas or start your application process, visit

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