« Skilled migration programme increased for 2012-13 »

The number of visa places available on the skilled migration programme has been increased by 5,000 for the year 2012-13 by the Federal Government.

The increase of 5,000 places means that there will now be 190,000 places available for skilled migrants. It is hoped that the increase will help fill the skills gaps in certain areas in the short- and medium-term.

Of the 190,000 places, 129,250 places are allocated to the skill stream, 60,185 are allocated to the family stream and 565 are allocated to special eligibility. Regional visas will continue to receive priority processing to encourage regional migration as well.

Up to 16 000 places have been reserved for the regional sponsored migration scheme (skilled) to ensure those areas have the support they need to fill skills gaps, grow local economies and strengthen communities.

Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Chris Bowen MP said, 'Skilled migrants are increasingly moving to growth regions and places where there is demand—they are complementing rather than competing with our domestic labour force.'

'Further recent reforms have made employer-sponsored programs more streamlined and responsive.'

'It's obviously important that people be able to live with family members, which is recognised in the increased places to help meet growing demand. Importantly, partners and children can also be great contributors to our nation's productivity,' Mr Bowen said.

'Our skilled migration program is driven by Australia's genuine skills needs and not simply by those who wish to become Australian residents. We believe we have the balance right.'

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