australia visa stamp200The current financial crisis has caused many of the governments of differing countries to put in place immigration policies that have made obtaining visas quite difficult. Australia is no exception, as the immigration system of the country requires that the applicant have skills and experience that can make them viable members of the populace. This program has been criticized as it puts more value on the individual's qualifications. While the program has also its accolades, the question now presented is its fairness in application. One of the major criticisms is the extended length of time that applicants need to wait before learning of their fate in the application process. A second concern is that there is an unfair bias towards skilled migrant visa applications and the dwindling numbers of other kinds of visas issued to those wishing to enter Australia.

The immigration process of Australia requires that individual applicants fill out a skills questionnaire online and the submission of important documentation. On this basis, an individual's skills are assessed to determine if the applicant has skills that are in demand in the Australian marketplace. If the applicant has in demand skills, then the visa application is given top priority to have the individual move to Australia and be part of the labor workforce Down Under.

The current Australian immigration quota allows the issuance of 133,500 immigrant visas per year and this number is spread between the skilled immigrant visas and general visa applicants. The current economic recession though has skewed the application process, with more emphasis given for skilled migrants into the country together with an overall application of more stringent requirements for general visa applicants. This has resulted in smaller numbers of general visa applicants being issued visas or that their application becomes mired at the bottom of the pile for the immigration authorities.

What is the benefit of tightening the criteria now?

Many developed countries, as a result of the worldwide financial crisis, has experienced increased numbers in unemployment in their respective workforces. Australia has reported unemployment rates at a manageable 4.8% according to the International Monetary Fund. With a smaller number of companies operating in Australia, the government has to balance the need for Australian nationals that have been laid off to gain employment without being eased out 0f the hunt by foreign skilled workers.

The current policy of tightening the requirements of skilled foreign workers whose applications are often fast tracked places the economy primed and ready once the recession finally ends. The availability of local as well as foreign workers provide the opportunity for Australian nationals to fill in the demand and have the foreign workers take up the other positions that are already available in the Australian workplace.

It is projected that the Australian economy would be able to rebound from the doldrums as early as 2010. The current policy of having skilled workers in the pipeline is but one of the policies being undertaken by the government to pump-prime the economy. The other projects include an increase in the construction sectors and the broadband technology sector of the Australian economy.

Has Australia always had a skilled workers immigration policy?

The Australian immigration process always had a qualifications requirement, but once a particular applicant with special qualifications in high demand files a visa application, it is fast tracked right away. A criticism though in the last few years of the immigration process, is that the process has slowed down applicants for in demand jobs that many of these skilled workers opt to go elsewhere on the world. The increased difficulty hurts the viability of the Australian economy as many high demand positions remain unfilled because of the tight immigration requirements. In response, the criteria was tightened to ensure that employer sponsored visas are issued to those who are fit and ready to fill in the demand in the Australian marketplace.

The balance sought being done is to control the influx of foreign skilled workers into Australia to allow Australian nationals to get the available jobs in the marketplace. Effectively, by delaying the immigration of foreign workers, the immigration policy would control unemployment and thus open the floodgates once the recovery of the Australian economy is well under way.

Is it right to sort immigration applications on skills?

One of the foremost arguments for the bias for locals is that Australian nationals should have the right of first refusal for positions that are available in the market. The critics posit that these individuals have been paying taxes for years and it is these taxes that fund government operations. If locals have the necessary skills to perform the job, then it should be given to them instead of those foreign immigrants with little or no skills. The slant is needed, the pundits say, since many have opted to hire foreign workers which ease out the locals from positions they have funded and able to perform.

Another issue that has been raised is that general visa immigrants to Australia have put great pressure on the social and public services of the country. These individuals, with little skill and qualifications, increase the demand on these services and thus exclude these services from native Australians who fund these basic services. The debate on the illegal and moral fronts has been raging on the right of countries to choose who can enter their country and what are the qualities of these immigrants should have.

The current policy of the Australian government concerning immigration is but one way to ride out the buffeting storm of the recession. By limiting the influx of immigrants, the shrinking labor demand is managed as companies opt to hire Australian nationals already in the country instead of turning to foreign labor. This allows the unemployment to remain manageable. In implementing stricter guidelines, the government is biding time for the economy to recover and once stable, a ready source for skilled workers can readily be absorbed into the Australian economy. This has allowed the Australian economy avoid the many pitfalls and failures other developed countries have experienced in the midst of the worldwide recession.