Fewer Aussie visas made available to Asians as migrant intake falls

CANBERRA, April 13 (Xinhua) -- As many as 10,000 Australian visas will be taken off from Asians living overseas and allocated to New Zealanders already living in Australia under new immigration rules.

Australia's Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has made changes to Australia's visa allocation that will reduce the country's immigration intake.

Under the old system, 44,000 places in Australia's skilled independent visa program were reserved for Asian applicants living overseas.

However, Dutton's changes mean that as many as 10,000 of those places will go to New Zealanders already living and working in Australia, reducing the country's annual migrant intake by 10,000.

"The pathway is directly aimed at New Zealand citizens who have been living in Australia for at least five years and have made, and continue to make, a demonstrated economic contribution to Australia," a spokesperson for the Department of Home Affairs told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Friday.

The change has contributed to Australia's total migrant intake falling to the lowest level in a decade.

On the current trajectory, the intake of migrants for 2017-18 is expected to fall between 160,000 and 170,000, down from the official cap of 190,000.

Dutton confirmed the lower figure on Thursday, saying it was the result of "tightening the screws" on the visa approval process.

"My expectation is that it'll be down. It's down, in part, in that area because we have tightened the screws if you like," he told Macquarie Media radio.

"We're looking in more details at applications that people are making and if people are coming to work here, to bring money, to set up a business, to employ Australians. If they're going to -contribute to the economy and integrate well into our community, then we do welcome them and we've done that for a long period of time."

Dutton's comments came in a week where officially reducing the annual migrant intake has become a hot button issue.

According to reports in News Corp Australia publications in mid-April, Dutton took a proposal to the inner sanctum of the Australian government that would cut the annual intake by 20,000, a proposal that was shot down by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Treasurer Scott Morrison.

Responding to the reports, Turnbull said Dutton never put a formal proposal forward.

"I might say that the permanent migration ceiling -- which has been set at 190,000 for a long time and which we were well below last year and we expect to be below this year -- that is reviewed every year, every single year," Turnbull told Macquarie radio.

"What was initially said in the media ... that there had been a submission brought to cabinet by Peter -Dutton to reduce the ceiling on permanent migration ... and that he had been rolled by me and Scott Morrison...That is untrue. If you are asking me, do ministers discuss -migration and migration levels and the composition of the -migration program, well of course we do," he said.

The skilled independent visa, which is assessed on points based on the applicant's experience, makes up for a quarter of Australia's permanent visa program and is Australia's biggest source of skilled migrant workers along with the employer-sponsored program.

Three out of five successful applicants through the program in 2017 were granted visas while living overseas.

[ Editor: zyq ]


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