Tests for skilled migrants set for overhaul

Testing for prospective migrants to Australia to obtain visas is set to undergo its first overhaul in more than a decade as part of a revamp of the country’s immigration system.

The federal government has flagged it is looking to reform the points test for skilled migrants, which determines who gets to come to Australia, following a decision to reduce immigration numbers.

A discussion paper has been released highlighting potential changes to the points test, which would be the first update of the system since 2012.

A review of Australia’s migration system, handed down in December, called for the points test to focus on characteristics associated with migrants successfully finding skilled work.

It also called for the test to provide greater certainty for prospective migrants, as well as focus more on industries with skill deficits and recognise younger people.

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said a reformed points test would help to improve the immigration system.

“Our goal is to build a smaller, better planned, more strategic migration system that works for Australia,” she said.

“We are significantly reducing migration levels, we are in the middle of the biggest drop in migration numbers in Australia’s history, outside of war or pandemic.

The strategy outlined ways for migrant numbers to return to pre-COVID levels, as well as halve net overseas migration by 2025.

The return of international students and tourists following the pandemic saw overseas net migration surge to 500,000 during the 2022/23 financial year.

The review called for a recalibrated points test to “form the core of a future permanent skilled migration program”, with two-thirds of permanent skilled migrants being selected by the method.

“We’re focused on making sure that a smaller migration program is bringing in people who have skills we need to build Australia’s future,” Ms O’Neil said.

“That’s where the points test really matters.”

The federal government has commissioned the Australian National University to carry out an analysis of skills that drive success in Australia as part of reforms to the points test.

The discussion paper said while there would be reforms to the points test, the method should continue to provide pathways for temporary migrants looking for permanent residency or citizenship.

“When temporary migrants have a clear understanding of what is required to meet these pathways, it builds our social fabric and reduces vulnerability to exploitation,” the paper said.

“Getting the points test right is critical to restoring permanent residence at the heart of our migration system and maximising the economic benefit to Australia.”


Andrew Brown
(Australian Associated Press)


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