In the wake of attacks against Indian students, Australian Government is planning to make changes in its skilled migration programme that would delink permanent residency with trade occupations such as hair dressing and cookery.

Immigration Minister Chris Evans will announce the new rules on Monday that will include amendments to the “migration occupations in demand” list, which awards points to migrants applying to work in areas like hairdressing and cookery, The Age reported.

Mr. Evans will detail the changes in a speech to industry and union representatives, including Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, AiGroup, the Minerals Council of Australia and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, the report said.

Government is also expected to reconsider changes made on January 1 this year to the temporary ‘457’ category of visa, which businesses have criticised for impeding the ability of Australian employers to recruit desperately needed workers from overseas.

The changes are expected to break the link between permanent residency and trade occupations, such as hairdressing and cookery that has been on a major demand list to attract overseas students wishing to stay on in Australia, the report said.

The moves come in the backdrop of a spate of attacks against Indian students in Australia. There have been over 100 instances of attacks on Indians, most of them students, in Australia since the last year.

Immigration officials said the government would favour changes that focuses more on employer-sponsored visas and give State governments power to import workers under State sponsorship visas, the report said.

Though points migrants earn for working jobs on the demand list are small, they can tip the balance between being eligible to live in Australia and not being admitted.

An industry source said skilled migrants under 30 most frequently used the points system.

“It’s a very sensitive area,” the industry source said. “The problem is we can’t compel students to work in the job for which they train.”

The proposed changes are seen as a major setback for foreign students enrolled in a sector already battling college foreclosures and bad publicity for attacks on Indian students.

“In the short term, registered training organisations could face closure and bigger providers like TAFE could take a big financial hit,” the source said.

Immigration officials told interest groups at a meet that the current points test for migrants would be revised as it was inefficient in responding to employers’ immediate skills needs.

Chief executive of Australian Council of Private Education and Training, Andrew Smith, said he hoped the review factored in the value of the education sector to the economy and looked after students.

“We’d be concerned to ensure that changes have appropriate transition arrangements so students have certainty and disruptions to this vital sector are minimised,” Mr. Smith said.

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