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The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, today welcomed the final report of the Baird Review on the legislation governing international education.

It is most pleasing to note Mr Baird’s support for the Rudd Government’s changes to the skilled migration program announced on 8 February 2010.

The skilled migration program changes will encourage overseas students to focus on obtaining a quality education from a high quality provider by removing incentives for students to apply for a course simply in the hope of being granted permanent residence.

Under the changes, the wide-ranging migration occupations in demand list was revoked and will be replaced mid-year by a new and more targeted skilled occupations list to be developed by the independent body, Skills Australia.

The new skilled occupations list will be tightly focused on high value skills that will assist in addressing Australia’s future skills needs. It will deliver a mix of skills across the professions and trades in areas such as healthcare, engineering and mining.

International students currently studying in Australia who hold a vocational, higher education or postgraduate student visa will still be able to apply for permanent residence if their occupation is on the new skilled occupations list.

Students currently studying a course in an occupation that is not on the new skilled occupations list will have until the end of 2012 to apply for a temporary skilled graduate visa which will enable them to spend up to 18 months in Australia to acquire work experience and find an Australian employer willing to sponsor them.

It must be remembered that a student visa is just that: a visa to study. It does not give someone an automatic entitlement to permanent residence.

International students should be focused on obtaining a good qualification from a quality education provider in a field in which they want to work. The changes will in no way impact on international students coming to Australia to gain a legitimate qualification and then return home.

Similarly, Australia’s migration program is not and should not be determined by the courses studied by international students.

Australia will continue to welcome international students and provide an opportunity for those who have the necessary qualifications and skills to find an Australian employer willing to sponsor them for a permanent visa.

Source  :  www.immigov.au

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WA will be able to handpick permanent migrants to service the booming resources sector and other areas of critical need under a massive overhaul of the skilled migration program to be unveiled today.

Under the changes, Immigration Minister Chris Evans will revoke and refund 20,000 applications from would-be skilled migrants and instead give top priority to those who are sponsored by employers and States for high-level jobs.

The overhaul is geared towards making Australia’s skilled migration super-responsive to urgent shortfalls in qualified mining and health sector workers, while also tightening permanent visa criteria for overseas students studying courses in low skill occupations.

Senator Evans will immediately abolish the Migration Occupations in Demand List, which gazettes 106 areas of preferred workers, replacing it by April with a more targeted Skilled Occupations List drawn up by the independent Federal authority Skills Australia in consultation with the States and business.

It means doctors, nurses, engineers and high-value professions and trades will have priority over low-skilled workers such as hairdressers and chefs.

In WA, as yesterday’s Olivier Jobs Index showed, the most sought after workers are in engineering, trades and services, and building.

In a marked departure from the existing skilled migration scheme, States will be asked to draw up their own migration plans to allow fast-tracking of applications for migrants sponsored by States or companies for specific jobs.

The bar will be raised for unsponsored skilled migration applicants, with criteria such as proficiency in the English language, work experience and overseas qualifications to be made tougher.

The overall annual skilled migration intake will remain unchanged at 108,100 people.

The changes are likely to have a significant impact on the burgeoning multi-billion-dollar overseas student market where hundreds of thousands of foreign students have come to Australia to undergo trades training, enticed by the prospect of permanent residency.

The Government believes such courses are skewing the migration program, leaving new permanent residents with poor English and little prospect of finding work in their nominated field of expertise.

Foreign students in Australia studying in areas dumped from the new skilled occupation hit list will be given 18 months after completion of their studies to find sponsorship from an employer or sent home.

The Government believes the new regime will help the clampdown on unscrupulous migration agents, many of whom are Indian-based, who con students into believing completion of an Australian course gives automatic entitlement to permanent residence. 

The bar will be raised for unsponsored skilled migration applicants, with criteria such as proficiency in the English language, work experience and overseas qualifications to be made tougher.

The overall annual skilled migration intake will remain unchanged at 108,100 people.

The changes are likely to have a significant impact on the burgeoning multi-billion-dollar overseas student market where hundreds of thousands of foreign students have come to Australia to undergo trades training, enticed by the prospect of permanent residency.

The Government believes such courses are skewing the migration program, leaving new permanent residents with poor English and little prospect of finding work in their nominated field of expertise.

Foreign students in Australia studying in areas dumped from the new skilled occupation hit list will be given 18 months after completion of their studies to find sponsorship from an employer or sent home.

The Government believes the new regime will help the clampdown on unscrupulous migration agents, many of whom are Indian-based, who con students into believing completion of an Australian course gives automatic entitlement to permanent residence.

Source  :  www.thewest.com.au

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The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, today announced the establishment of the Council for Immigration Services and Status Resolution.

The council will provide independent advice on the implementation of measures associated with the government’s immigration policy initiatives including New Directions in Detention and the national rollout of the Community Status Resolution Service.

‘The Government’s focus is on resolving the immigration status of people quickly and fairly while ensuring they are treated humanely and with dignity and respect,’ Senator Evans said.

‘The council will provide independent advice on policies, services and programs to achieve timely, fair and effective resolution of immigration status for people seeking asylum or other migration outcomes in Australia.

‘The terms of reference and membership of the council reflects the range of expertise required to implement the Government’s New Directions in Detention policy.’

The council, which succeeds the Immigration Detention Advisory Group, will meet for the first time on October 21 to identify priority issues to be addressed over the next two years. The IDAG provided valuable advice on the adequacy of detention services, accommodation and facilities at immigration detention centres around Australia.

The new council will also advise on the suitability of facilities and service delivery arrangements but its major focus will be on assisting the department with strategies to resolve a person’s immigration status in a community setting rather than in a detention centre provided they pose no risk to the community.

The council will be chaired by Paris Aristotle AM, director of the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture and a former member of Immigration Detention Advisory Group with more than 25 years’ experience in the field.

Other members will include:

  • Air Marshal Ray Funnell AC (Retd) – former Chief of Air Force and a former member of IDAG, Air Marshal Funnell will serve as the deputy chair for the group
  • Ms Kerrin Benson – chief executive officer of the Multicultural Development Association
  • Mr Noel Clement – general manager of domestic operations for the Australian Red Cross
  • Ms Caz Coleman – project director of the Hotham Mission asylum seeker project
  • Ms Libby Lloyd AM – chair of the former National Council to Reduce Violence Against Women and was recently appointed to chair the Violence Against Women Advisory Group
  • Dr Maryanne Loughry – associate director of Jesuit Refugee Service–Australia. Dr Loughry is a psychologist, a research scholar at Boston College and the University of Oxford and a member of the Governing Council of the International Catholic Migration Commission
  • Associate Professor Harry Minas – director of the Centre for International Mental Health, University of Melbourne and the Victorian Transcultural Psychiatry Unit, he is a former member of IDAG and chair of the Detention Health Advisory Group (DeHAG)
  • Associate Professor Nicholas Procter – Associate Professor, school of nursing and midwifery, University of South Australia
  • Dr Jamal Rifi – Dr Rifi is the 2009 NSW Local Hero of the Year and Recipient of 2007 Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission Award. He is a former Commissioner for the Community Relations Commission for a Multicultural NSW, a general practitioner and an active community volunteer
  • Professor Samina Yasmeen – director of the Centre for Muslim States and Societies at the University of Western Australia and a current member of the Australian Multicultural Advisory Council (AMAC).
  • ‘I believe the new group will provide valuable perspectives and their community links will help to strengthen the provision of community services to immigration clients in support of timely case resolution,’ the minister said.

    The minister acknowledged the work of members of the previous Immigration Detention Advisory Group.

    ‘I’d like to acknowledge and thank the valuable and long–standing contribution of members of the Immigration Detention Advisory Group since its establishment in 2001,’ Senator Evans said.

    ‘Their independent expert advice provided to the previous and current government has been greatly appreciated.’

    Information about the Council for Immigration Services and Staus Resolution (CISSR) – Terms of Reference is available on the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s website.
    See: Council for Immigration Services and Staus Resolution (CISSR) – Terms of Reference

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    The Kwinana Freeway extension and Forrest Highway has officially opened three months ahead of schedule.

    The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship and Senator for Western Australia, Chris Evans, said the new 70.5 kilometre road was one of the largest road infrastructure projects ever undertaken in Western Australia.

    Representing the Federal Government at today’s opening ceremony, Senator Evans said the opening marked the culmination of more than five years of work, including almost three years of construction, to deliver this vital piece of infrastructure.

    ‘It’s a great day for the south-west,’ Senator Evans said at the opening.

    ‘In particular, I congratulate the Southern Gateway Alliance, as well as the 3000 workers and more than 1000 local suppliers and subcontractors involved in building this road, on a job well done.

    ‘I would also like to acknowledge the former Federal and State governments for getting the work started on this vital piece of infrastructure for the people of Western Australia.

    ‘For the first time ever, motorists will be able to travel on a continuous dual carriageway from Perth to the fast-growing communities in the state’s south-west, bypassing the heavily populated areas of Mandurah and Dawesville.

    ‘The new road will provide better driving conditions and cut travel times by up to 30 minutes for the 30 000 motorists expected to use it each day. It will also take the pressure off other routes, including the Old Coast Road and South Western Highway.

    ‘Over the longer term, it will promote economic development across the region – which in turn will create even more job opportunities within local communities.’

    The $705 million project was jointly funded by the Federal ($330 million) and Western Australian ($375 million) governments.

    The Rudd Labor Government is investing $3.4 billion over six years to modernise and maintain the State’s road and rail infrastructure – an investment that will deliver significant benefits for both the Western Australian and national economies.

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    A new report has found Australia’s migration program is more effectively meeting the needs of employers with a 60 per cent increase in the number of employer-sponsored skilled migrants to Australia in 2008-09 compared with the previous year.

    The Report on Migration Program 2008-09 shows that the Rudd Government’s targeted approach to overseas workers is helping to fill critical skills gaps in the healthcare, engineering, financial services and IT sectors.

    The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, said that changes introduced in January including the Critical Skills List (CSL) of high value occupations and prioritising employer-sponsored or state/territory-sponsored skilled migration visa grants were having a significant impact.

    Overseas workers who were sponsored by employers comprised 33 per cent of the 2008-09 skill stream compared to 22 per cent in 2007-08 and 17 per cent in 2006-07.
    “A properly targeted migration program will ensure we have the right sized and appropriately skilled labour force to meet Australia’s needs now and into the future as our economy recovers and grows.”

    The Government cut the 2008-09 permanent skilled migration intake in March 2009 by 14 per cent from 133 500 to 115 000 and reduced planning levels for the permanent skilled migrant intake in the overall 2009-10 migration program to 108 100 places.

    “This is in direct response to the economic slowdown and represents an overall drop of almost 20 per cent on previous planning levels,” Senator Evans said.

    “The migration intake in the coming year reflects the economic conditions while ensuring employers can gain access to skilled professionals in industries still experiencing skills shortages such as healthcare and engineering. “The reduction is being achieved through a cutback in places in independent skilled migration rather than in the high-demand employer-sponsored category or in areas in which Australia has critical skills shortages.”

    Across all permanent skilled visa categories, the top three occupations for successful applicants were accountancy (6238), computing professionals (3879) and registered nurses (3355) while the top three countries of citizenship under the skill stream were the United Kingdom (23 178), India (20 105) and China (13 927).

    “Australia’s migration program is better targeting the needs of Australian employers who are still experiencing skill shortages,” Senator Evans said.

    Source  :  www.manmonthly.com.au

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    A new international agreement will boost Australia’s ability to detect and identify immigration fraud and cast a wider net when checking the backgrounds of unauthorised arrivals and other people held in immigration detention.

    The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, said today that an agreement for biometric data-sharing between Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom was signed last night. Under the partnership, Australia will be able to securely and confidentially cross check fingerprints with Canadian and UK databases.

    Currently, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship collects fingerprints from all people in immigration detention, including irregular arrivals and illegal foreign fishers. It is expected fingerprint collection will be progressively rolled out to other people in the immigration caseload in the future.

    ‘The Australian Government’s ability to detect immigration and identity fraud will be greatly improved as a result of new biometric data-sharing arrangements with partner agencies in Canada and the United Kingdom,’ Senator Evans said. ‘This data-sharing will help to establish the true identities of unknown people, and ensure that fraudulent cases are dealt with appropriately through the improved ability to detect inconsistent identity and immigration claims.

    It will also help authorities to increase the chance of detecting people with criminal histories and other people of concern, aid in the timely removal of unlawful non-citizens where their identities and/or nationalities were previously unknown or uncertain, and improve detection of fraudulent immigration practices and trends.

    The new biometric data-sharing plan was developed at the Five Country Conference, which is a forum on immigration and border security between Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. The US is expected to join the data-sharing arrangement in due course.

    The benefits of international biometric data sharing were highlighted recently when an individual claiming asylum in the UK was found to have previously been fingerprinted in the USA while travelling on an Australian passport.

    The individual was subsequently confirmed as an Australian citizen wanted for sexual assault. The man was removed to Australia to face court, and is now serving a jail sentence.

    Senator Evans said the new data-sharing arrangements would not affect privacy laws.

    ‘The protection of personal information is important to all the countries involved in these arrangements. All data shared by my department will adhere to the Privacy Act 1988,’ the minister said.

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    assylum boat

    Immigration Minister Chris Evans has hinted the budget will contain additional money to fight people smuggling.

    The Rudd government has been criticised for relaxing Howard-era border protection measures.

    The opposition says the recent influx of vessels is evidence of Labor’s failed policy.

    Since the government abolished temporary protection visas last August, 19 boats carrying suspected asylum seekers have been intercepted in Australian waters.

    “We are absolutely committed to maintaining strong border security measures and doing everything we can to attack the people smugglers and disrupt their operations,” Senator Evans told parliament on Tuesday.

    The government’s commitment was absolute, he said.

    “And that commitment will be reinforced again in tonight’s budget.”

    Labor had already taken on additional measures since coming to government to strengthen border security and “more will be done,” Senator Evans said.

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