In February 2009, the government of Australia announced a change for the labour market access of foreign workers.



  • 1 harmful
  • 0 neutral
  • 0 liberalising


1) The speech by Senator Evans explaining the changes to the skilled migration program delivered at the Australian National University, 8 February 2010 (
2) Press release, 8 February 2010 (
3)Turner Coulson Immigration Lawyers:

Inception date: 08 Feb 2009 | Removal date: open ended

Labour market access

On 8 February 2010, Chris Evans, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, announced reforms of the permanent skilled migration program. The changes are supposed to ensure that the migration program is more responsive to the needs of industry and employers and better addresses Australia's future skill needs. It will deliver a demand rather than a supply driven program that meets skill shortages in industries such as health care, engineering and mining. The major reforms are:

  • 20'000 migration applications lodged before 1 September 2007 will be withdrawn. Affected are people having applied overseas under easier standards, in particular lower English skills and less rigorous work experience requirement. Those visa applications will be refunded at an estimated cost of 14 million Australian dollars.
  • The list of occupations eligible for application will be tightened so only highly skilled migrants can apply for independent skilled migration visas (i.e. applicants without an Australian employer that sponsors them). This more targeted Skilled Occupations List (SOL) will be developed by the independent body, Skills Australia, and will be reviewed annually and introduced mid-year. The Critical Skills List introduced in March 2009 will be phased out.
  • The point test used to assess migrants will be tightened to ensure it selects the best and the ones needed.
  • The Migration Act will be amended to give the Minister for Immigration the power to set the maximum number of visas that be granted to applicants in any one occupation.
  • State and territory-specific migration plans will be developed so they can prioritise skilled migrants of their own choosing.

Chris Evans also said that "there are plenty of occupations where there is an adequate supply of young Australians coming through our schools, TAFEs 'Training and Further Education' and universities to take up new job opportunities. They must be given priority to fill these vacancies."
The government has also stated that it is now only processing general skills migration visa applications, and granting visas to permanent visa applicants that are State/Territory sponsored, nominated/sponsored by an employer or who have nominated occupations on the new critical skills list.