As an Immigration law firm every year we eagerly await the Federal Budget to understand the government’s planning levels which impact the policy settings around our migration program and to see if there are any little gems or new announcements.
The budget assumes that borders may not be reopened until mid-2022. This means:
- Travel restrictions and quarantine will continue. Only occupations on the Priority List or those to be in critical skills or with border exemptions will be likely to be able to come to Australia on temporary visas. Outbound permission requests for Australian Citizens/Permanent Residents will continue to be needed.
- Increased importance of the Global Talent and other permanent visa options as a way to bring highly talented employees to Australia because they are exempt from travel restrictions.
Join our webinar on 18 May to learn all the latest on Global Talent from the Special Envoy to the Prime Minister, Peter Verwer AO.
- Increased competition for those temporary workers already in Australia along with increased complexity and compliance to manage temporary visa holder populations
The numbers behind all this are startling. The pandemic has meant our incoming international passenger numbers are down by 99% and our net migration (the number of people coming to Australia for more than 12 months less the number of people leaving for more than 12 months) is expected to fall from around 154,000 persons in 2019-2020 to be around -72,000 persons by the end of 2020-2021, before gradually increasing to around 201,000 persons in 2023-2024.
So what does migration in 2021/2022 look like?
The budget provides some high-level indication of where the Department of Home Affairs will focus its attention, but for the real detail on occupations, training levies etc we will need to wait for the outcome of the Joint Standing Committee inquiry into skilled migration which is due to report in July this year.
- Overall planning levels – will be set at 160,000 permanent residence places for 2021-2022. This is a ceiling rather than a target. Temporary visas are not included and are demand driven.
- Skilled visas – around 50% of the total 160,000 program will be dedicated to skilled visas and giving priority to highly skilled migrants in the employer sponsored, Business Innovation and Investor Program and Global Talent visa cohorts.
- Family and Skilled stream places will be maintained at their 2020-21 planning levels, with a continued focus on onshore visa applicants. In a change of tact the government plans to reduce the onshore Partner visa pipeline.
- Family visas – the number of places available will be set at 77,300 places for 2021-22.
- Humanitarian Program will be maintained at 13,750 places in 2021-22.
Global talent visas
The Government’s focus for attracting Global Talent continues:
attract high-yield businesses and exceptionally talented individuals to Australia, along
with their ideas, networks and capital to help drive innovation and job creation.
$550 million will be committed over the next 4 years to attract talent and business from overseas. The ATO will provide fast track tax advice to foreign investors and individual tax residency rules will be simplified.
Streamlining of visas will occur to target highly skilled individuals when circumstances allow, no further details of this streamlining were announced but following on from the Joint Standing Committee’s on Skilled Migration’s Recommendations we may be seeing a new Global Talent Temporary visa being introduced.
Subclass 408 Temporary Activity – The requirement for applicants for the Subclass 408 Temporary Activity visa to demonstrate their attempts to depart Australia if they intend to undertake agricultural work has been removed.
The period in which a temporary visa holder can apply for the Temporary Activity visa has also been extended from 28 days prior to visa expiry to 90 days prior to visa expiry.
Student visa holders – In line with recent announcements, employers in the tourism and hospitality sectors are allowed to employ student visa holders to work more than 40 hours per fortnight. It is not known how long this concession will be in place for.
Pacific labour mobility – Pacific workers already in Australia will continue to have their visas extended until April 2022.
Sponsored Temporary Parent visas – The validity period for Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visas will be extended by 18 months for individuals who are unable to use their visas due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
Supporting migrant and refugee women – Funding to improve migrant and refugee women’s safety and a pilot program to support temporary visa holders experiencing family violence to explore visa options that are not reliant on their partner.
Immigration Detention – Further funding to increase the capacity of the onshore Immigration Detention Network.
Adult Migrant English Program – New delivery model for the Adult Migrant English Program from 1 July 2023 to improve English language.
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