AUSTRALIA on Thursday (4/27) proposed an revamp of its immigration system to speed up the entry of highly skilled workers. The revamping also aims to smooth the path for skilled workers to obtain permanent residency.

The Labor government said that the current system used to select skilled migrants. The points test – will be modified to identify people who have the skills needed by the Australian economy in the future.

“Our immigration system is broken. It is failing our businesses; it is failing the migrants themselves. And most importantly, it is failing Australians. It cannot be allowed to continue,” Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said in a speech at the National Press Club.

Australia has been competing with countries such as Canada and Germany, to lure more skilled migrants, with a surge in demand compounded by an aging population.

The government said that the visa process for highly skilled professionals will be made faster and easier, while steps will be taken to retain international students.

Temporary skilled visa holders, who have been denied the opportunity to apply for permanent residency, will be able to do so by the end of this year, O’Neil said. But this will not increase Australia’s annual number of permanent migrants, he said.

In September, Australia increased its permanent migrant intake to 195,000 this financial year, up 35,000, to help businesses battling staff shortages and promised more staff and funding to speed up visa processing.

From July 1, the government said it will raise the migrant worker wage threshold for temporary skilled workers to 70,000 Australian dollars (US$46,250) from 53,900 Australian dollars, which has stayed at the same level since 2013.

About 90% of all full-time jobs in Australia now pay more than the current threshold, leading to the exploitation of migrant workers, the government said. [sources/photo special]