Australian immigration system faces calls for reform
An Australian government report has called for the country's immigration system, which Brexit campaigners have named as a model for the UK to follow, to be reformed to better target younger, more skilled migrants, with better English skills.
The Productivity Commission report, released on 12 September 2016, also recommended tightening restrictions on family reunion visas and abolishing special investment visas, which award fast-track residency rights to foreigners in return for investment
"The current skilled migration programme falls short of generating the best outcomes for the Australian community. In essence, it does not adequately target migrants who are younger, more skilled and who have higher English-language proficiency," it says.
The commission said one of the weaknesses of the current system was that it allows temporary skilled workers nominated by employers to gain permanent residency without undergoing a skills test. It recommends introducing a single universal points test for all applicants and introducing a requirement for English language proficiency.
The report is a result of the Government asking the commission to study whether Australia should move from its points based skilled migration programme to one based mainly on charging migrants for visas and restricting access to government supports.
The report estimates that a price-based system could save the government $20 billion to $25 billion, but recommends against implementing one as it could lower the average educational level of migrants, lead to a reduction in the number of skilled migrants with high English language proficiency and dent integration prospects.
The commission questioned whether the current high levels of immigration are justified over the long term due to the pressures which new migrants place on the price of land and housing as well as their impact on local infrastructure and services. It says these impacts should be considered when determining the migrant intake and notes community gains depend on attracting immigrants who are younger and more skilled and policies that are responsive to economic, social and environmental conditions.
It also recommended abolishing Australia's significant investment visa scheme, which since it was established in November 2012 has offered residency to individuals in return for an investment of between A$5m to A$15m. By the end of July, the scheme had generated A$7.4bn investment in return for 1,483 residency visas, 90 per cent of which were allocated to Chinese nationals.
The commission said this type of programme was susceptible to fraud and warned it resulted in immigrants with lower English language proficiency and an older age profile.
"Overall the case for retaining the significant and premium investor visas programmes is weak," it says. Canada abolished a similar investment visa scheme in 2014.
Source - Asia-Pacific