Budget update received today from our agent:
The Govenment expects a rather large deficit, and expects that unemployment is likely to continue to rise over the next 12 months. Like the UK, it believes that the first signs of economic recovery are appearing, but that the recovery will be slow, and unemployment may not improve for some time. All of this has implications for the migration program, as generally, a slower economy means a slower migration program than in times of higher economic growth. It is fairly clear that the Australian economy is performing better than the UK’s, and is likely to come out of recession easier and sooner. But like all economic forecasts, it’s a wait and see. The General Skilled Migration Program has been cut to 108,100 and the Govt announced that it expects that a higher proportion of the General Skilled Migration Program is likely to be employer sponsored, with fewer places for Independent or Family and State-Sponsored applicants.
Two changes to Skilled Migration were foreshadowed. These are:
(i) Increasing the base level English requirement for tradespeople. At present, tradespeople need a minimum 5 on each of the 4 components of an IELTS English Test. From 1 July 2009, this will rise to 6 on each component. Under current rules, UK citizens (as well as Irish, Canadian, US and New Zealand citizens) are automatically given the level of the 6 IELTS score. It appears that applications lodged before 1 July wouldn’t be affected by this change anyway, although that is not 100% clear.
(ii) Practical skill assessments for student applicants who apply for perrmanent visas after completing courses in Australia.
Hope this helps.