Report charts the rise of immigration to Australia

by Ray Clancy on July 13, 2011

in Australia Immigration

Australia report show increased immigrant intake

The rise of immigration in Australia is shown in a new report from the Organization of Economic Co-operation, Development which shows that although permanent migration decreased by 7% in 2009/10, it was the second largest intake ever, and more than twice the level of a decade earlier.

Some 82% of the permanent migrants were admitted under the migration programme, around two thirds through the skill stream (including accompanying family), one third through the family stream and 7% through the humanitarian programme.

Within the skill stream, the proportion of employer-sponsored places has continued to increase from 33% in 2008/09 to 39% in 2009/10. In addition, 24 300 New Zealanders entered Australia under the 1973 Trans Tasman Travel Arrangement.

For 2010/11, the overall size of the permanent migration and humanitarian programmes is maintained at 2009/10 levels, but with an additional 5,800 places in the skill stream and offsetting reductions in the family stream.

Although the downturn affected Australia less than most other OECD countries, Australia was among the few OECD countries to record positive GDP growth during 2008/09, the slowdown in the Australian economy was associated with a decline in the number of temporary long stay business visas granted in 2009/10, one third less than in the previous year.

Working holiday visas also decreased by 6% from the record high in 2008/09, when at the height of the global economic downturn some were probably seeking to avoid a more severe downturn in their home country.

Inflows of international students also fell by 16% compared with the record high of 2008/09. The report says this was attributable to several factors, including tightened integrity checks on applications from selected student caseloads, increased requirements to establish financial security while in Australia and the appreciation of the Australian dollar.

In addition, changes in skilled migration policy tightened the pathway to permanent residence for former students. As a result, only 30 000 visas were granted to Indian students, a drop of more than 50% compared with the previous year. The main contingent of new students is now Chinese, with 54,400 entries recorded in 2009/10.

The number of asylum seekers arriving in Australian waters by boat has increased. Their number totaled more than 5,600 in 2009/10, compared with about 1,000 in 2008/09 and only 30 in 2007/08.

Net overseas migration has declined from a peak of 320,300 for the year ending March 2009, when it comprised two thirds of population growth. This decline has been driven by falls in international students, skilled temporary workers and New Zealand citizens.

It summarizes the recent changes introduced by the Australian government. Since July 2010, there is a new Skilled Occupation List, which cuts the number of eligible occupations by more than half. The new list contains occupations which fulfill three criteria. First, the skills needed take a long time to learn; second, there is evidence of high skills matching; and third, the costs of the skills being in short supply are high to the economy or to the respective local communities.

In November 2010, the government announced some significant changes to the points test for general skilled migration, effective from July 2011. The age eligibility range has been extended, qualifications obtained from recognized overseas institutions are now treated as equivalent to Australian qualifications, Australian work experience will attract more points than experience gained overseas, and English proficiency will be given greater importance.

State migration plans were also introduced in 2010, to ensure that state sponsored migrants are satisfying local needs. This includes the possibility for state sponsorship in certain skilled occupations not on the SOL but in short supply locally.

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