Thousands of would-be migrants to Australia will have their applications cancelled as part of a federal government overhaul of the skilled migration program.
Immigration Minister Chris Evans on Monday announced Labor is reforming the permanent skilled migration program so it's demand rather than supply driven.
Highly skilled workers like healthcare, engineering and mining professionals will be among those most sought after under the new scheme.
Senator Evans said major changes he'll be making include cancelling and refunding the applications of 20,000 prospective migrants currently living overseas and tightening the list of occupations in demand so only highly skilled migrants will be eligible for a visa.
The points test used to assess migrants will be reviewed to ensure it selects only the best and brightest, state and territory-specific migration plans will be developed and certain occupations may be capped.
The new arrangements will give first priority to skilled migrants who have a job lined up with an Australian employer.
For those who don't have a professional sponsor, Senator Evans said the bar is being raised.
"There are plenty of occupations where there is an adequate supply of young Australians coming through our schools... to take up new job opportunities," he said in a statement.
"They must be given the opportunity to fill these vacancies first."