Australia on Monday announced migration reforms that “will affect some overseas students” who might be “intending to apply for permanent residence”. The reforms are designed to ensure the selection of “the best and brightest” foreigner-applicants for skilled jobs.

The Immigration and Citizenship Ministry said the changes “will in no way impact on international students coming to Australia to gain a legitimate qualification and then return home”.

Immigration and Citizenship Minister Chris Evans said “Australia continues to want skilled migrants, be they from India, the United Kingdom or China — our three largest source-countries — or elsewhere. Without migrants, our workforce would begin to shrink from the second half of this decade, as the cohort of baby boomers retires from work”.

The “skilled migrants are also good for the budget bottom line, adding tens of millions more to tax revenue each year than they consume in government services”. However, the current system of a points-test used to assess the applications of would-be migrants was in need of reform. The Minister said he was, therefore, instituting a review of the existing test.

Spelling out the deficiency, the Ministry said: “Potential migrants [now] gain points based on their qualifications, skills and experience, and proficiency in English. The current points-test puts an overseas student with a short-term vocational qualification gained in Australia ahead of a Harvard-educated environmental scientist.”

It was also announced that 20,000 would-be migrants “will have their applications cancelled and receive a refund” of their visa application charges. “All offshore General Skilled Migration applications lodged before 1 September 2007 will have their applications withdrawn. These are people who applied overseas under easier standards, including lower English-language skills and a less rigorous work-experience requirement.”

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