Imminent changes to Australia’s migration system

Imminent changes to Australia’s migration system

In September 2022, the Australian Home Affairs Minister announced a comprehensive review of Australia's migration system, the results of which (Review of the Migration System Final Report) were presented to the Government in March 2023.

Further to their consideration of this report, the Government released an outline of their Migration Strategy in April 2023. The outline focuses on a new design of the migration system and critical policy changes to the skilled migration system, including a proposal to create three new pathways for temporary skilled migrants, the first a fast simple route for specialised, highly skilled workers, the second a mainstream temporary skilled pathway to bring core skills into Australia and a third that relates to Australia’s essential industries. During May and June 2023, the Government will consult State and Territory governments and key stakeholders on the outline of the Strategy with a plan to release their final Migration Strategy later in 2023.

However, they have already taken their first set of actions in the recent federal Budget in the form of the following announcements:

• As of 1 July 2023, the temporary skilled migration income threshold (TSMIT), will increase from $53,900 to $70,000.

• Around 70 per cent of places in the 2023–24 permanent Migration Program will be allocated to skilled migrants (137,100 of a total 190,000) to help address Australia’s longer term skill needs.

• Visa Application Charges will be increased from 1 July 2023. VACs will increase by 6% for visa applications, as well as an additional 15% percent for select visitor and temporary visa subclasses to fund costs associated with improved visa processing and other Government priorities.

• The Government will provide $75.8 million over two years from 2023–24 to extend the current surge in visa processing resources to ensure timeliness of visa processing and improve existing visa processing systems. They will continue efforts to manage the number of visas on-hand by extending funding for 500 visa processing officers, providing $48.1 million over 12 months and will invest $27.8 million over two years, commencing 2023-24, to upgrade existing visa ICT systems to improve visa service delivery efficiency and increase Australia’s attractiveness in the global race for talent, students and tourists.

• There will be improved pathways to permanent residence for Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) (subclass 482) visa holders. By the end of 2023, all temporary skilled workers will have a pathway to permanent residence via the Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) stream of the Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186). Applicants will need to continue to work in the occupation nominated for their TSS visa(s) but occupations will not be limited to the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL).

• Sponsored visa holders will be eligible for ENS TRT after two years (reduced from three years) of employment on a 482 visa.

• Restrictions will also be removed to enable TSS visa holders on the short-term stream access to permanent residence pathways through the Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186) visa.

• The Government is removing limits on the number of Short-term stream TSS visa applications that visa holders can make in Australia. This is an interim measure to assist those currently onshore who would normally need to go offshore to make further visa applications.

The Department will make more information available on these measures closer to their implementation date and we’ll keep a close eye on further announcements!

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