Following a review of Australia's migration system and in advance of the government's federal budget this month, the following visa changes and opportunities will take effect this year.
Australia's immigration system is getting a makeover after a 186-page assessment warned last week that it is "not fit for purpose" and exposes temporary workers to abuse.
Following two announcements from Home Affairs Minister Clare O'Neil, those seeking to obtain an Australian visa are hoping to hear more during the federal budget presentation on May 9.
Which changes to visa policies have already been made for 2023–2024? The path to citizenship for New Zealanders
New Zealanders who have lived in Australia for four years or longer will be qualified to apply immediately for Australian citizenship starting on July 1, 2023 (the beginning of the Australian fiscal year). They won't have to wait to apply for and receive a permanent visa.
New Zealand nationals who entered after February 26, 2001, and have a Special Category (subclass 444) visa (SCV) are affected by the changes. Long-term residents will be eligible to have their period of permanent residence retroactively applied to them.
The Skilled Independent (subclass 189) visa's New Zealand stream is presently closed to fresh applications and will be permanently closed on July 1.
Modification of student visas
Work restrictions on student visas were loosened throughout the COVID-19 epidemic and then eliminated in January of last year in an effort to solve labour shortages. This lets those with primary and secondary student visas to work more than the typical 40 hours every two weeks.
However, starting on July 1, the time limit for student visa work will increase to 48 hours every two weeks.
Extension of 485 Work Visa
Some owners of subclass 485 Temporary Graduate visas will also be able to stay in Australia for a longer period of time as of this date.
The extension results in a stay duration of four years (up from two years) for bachelor's degree graduates, five years (up from three), and six years (up from four) for master's degree graduates.
New visa for migrants from the Pacific
For competent immigrants from the Pacific area and Timor Leste, a new visa will be made available with 3,000 seats. Each year, ballots will be used to assign spots for the Pacific Engagement visa (PEV), and those chosen will be eligible to seek for permanent residency in Australia.
From July, applications can be submitted online.
Modifications for Working Vacationers
On July 1, a provision that allowed Working Holiday Makers (WHMs) to continue working for the same company or group after six months without obtaining permission would likewise come to an end. In order to solve employment shortages during the epidemic, the six-month working restriction was temporarily removed in January 2022.
The six-month restriction period will not apply to any work completed prior to July 1. As a result, WHMs may continue to work with any employer for up to an additional six months, even if their employment began before to July 1.
What additional impending changes to immigrants do we already know about?
Martin Parkinson, a former public servant who oversaw the study of Australia's immigration policy, discovered that although certain components are operating effectively, others are "broken" in several important respects.
Home Affairs Minister Clare O'Neil has already made two announcements out of the 38 "reform directions" it presented for the government to take into consideration.
The requirement for migrants to earn more.
First off, beginning of July 1, a higher minimum wage is required for applicants to acquire employer sponsorship.
Since it was set at $53,000 a decade ago, the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) has not been increased. If the freeze had not been in place, it would have increased to $70,000.
"This is the TSMIT's first raise in ten years. The day the evaluation was published, Ms. O'Neil issued a statement in which she described it as a down payment on the kind of immigration system the Albanese administration intends to create.
There will be a path to permanent residency for skilled employees.
Second, the administration declared that by the end of the year, it would provide all skilled temporary workers the chance to seek permanent residency. Abul Rizvi, a former deputy secretary in Australia's immigration ministry, deemed both modifications beneficial.
"Yes, I believe it's a good step to open the door for skilled temporary residents to get permanent residency."
Regarding the TSMIT increase, Mr. Rizvi argued that maintaining the minimum wage since 2013 was a "poor decision" that had adverse effects on both Australians and migrants. The migration review "seeks to increase the system's efficiency and focus." And both of those, in my opinion, can only be positive," he added.
What other suggestions did the migration review make?
According to the analysis, Australia's immigration policy fails to draw in the most highly educated immigrants and provide corporations easy access to labor. The assessment found that "unintentionally enabled a cohort of migrants to become permanently temporary" due to Australia's immigration policies.
A three-tiered review system, fewer visa options, an emphasis on preserving international students, and a change to Australia's points system to choose immigrants who will ostensibly "make the greatest long-term Its reform recommendations include making a financial contribution.
Although she praised the review and reforms as generally "sensible," Rebecca MacMillan, a migration attorney with the law firm Holding Redlich, cautioned that there is still a long road ahead. It's difficult to predict how rapidly anything will develop.
Building a mainstream temporary skilled pathway, "doing away with outdated, inflexible occupation lists," providing a quick, easy pathway for specialized, highly skilled workers, and expanding the programme to include all skill levels are some of the proposals outlined in the government's migration strategy.
In order to finalize its migration policy before releasing it later in the year, the administration will hold consultations in May and June.