The Australian points-based migration system

As explained by Alex Reilly on The Conversation, in Australia, permanent migration in the year ending June 2014 was 203,000 in a population of 23 million people. In the UK, permanent migration in the year ending September 2014 was 624,000 in a population of 64 million, on a par with Australia’s permanent migration as a proportion of population.

In Australia, whereas most new permanent migrants were part of the family program in the 1990s, economic migration now dominates. In 2013-14, economic migration made up 128,550 places compared with just over 61,000 migrants through the family program.


How the point system works

There are two pathways for migrants to apply for permanent residency through the economic migration stream – via independent points testing and employer nomination. The point-tested stream is the larger of the two: 74,740 new migrants entered Australia through it in 2013-14.

Points are awarded for a range of characteristics, including level of education, type of skilled employment, and the amount of experience in this employment, age and English language ability. A points system allows the government to engage in long-term planning, considering not only what skills are in demand in industry immediately, but what will be needed in the future.

But governments sometimes get their projections wrong, and some commentators suggest that it is better to let the market determine what skills are most needed in the economy. Second, no matter how skilled and experienced a new migrant might be, if there is no job for them to apply for, then they will be either unemployed or underemployed.

The great advantage of employer-nominated migration is that the market has determined that a job vacancy exists. Employers nominate migrants to fill these vacancies and they enter Australia with guaranteed employment. The government still plays a role in the process by constructing a list of skills in demand. Employers are limited to nominating migrants to fill positions from this list.

Another phenomenon in Australia has been the increase in two-step migration. Many of those who apply for permanent residency have already worked in Australia as temporary migrants. This gives migrants the chance to “try before they buy”. And it means that Australia is only making a commitment to migrants who already have a positive track record of employment in the country.

The full article here.

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