WIMMERA Development Association skilled migration manager Janet Heard said 25 people attended a skilled migration meeting at Wimmera Business Centre on Tuesday.

Ms Heard said Department of Immigration outreach officer Geoffrey Green addressed employers and migrants about changes to visas and other reforms.

The reforms will come into effect from July 1.

Ms Heard said the department would collapse six visa types, or classifications, to two.

“They are also raising the age limit for skilled migrants from 45 to 50,” she said.

“Previously, you could argue your case, but it was difficult.”

Ms Heard said paperwork for permanent residency would move online and become electronic, which would make the process of attracting skilled workers to the region easier.

But she said there would also be a jump in the standard of English required for skilled migrants to work in Australia.

Ms Heard said most skilled migrants had a high level of English, but sometimes tradespeople only just met the requirements, which could make it difficult to attract tradespeople to the Wimmera.

“The English level for an 857 or permanent visa is currently at 4.5 and will become a score of six, which is a big jump,” she said.

“The changes also mean that tradespeople will need to have their skills tested, which was already a requirement for a temporary 457 demand-driven visa, but wasn’t for any other visa.

“This is very expensive and time consuming for skilled migrants.”

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