Migration Strategy Released – Revamping Australia’s Immigration System

The long awaited ‘Migration Strategy’ has been released by the federal government with the key objective of fixing Australia’s flawed migration system.

On 11 December 2023, the Australian Government released the new migration strategy, with the Government noting the key objective being to fix Australia’s flawed migration system. This strategy is targeting various visa categories and migration policies, with the implementation of new visa subclasses.

Migration Program Planning Levels

Some of the changes include extended migration planning for filling critical skill shortage occupations in various states and territories.

  • Migration planning will be extended beyond the current 12 months.
  • Migration numbers are estimated to fall next financial year from 510,000 to 375,000 and are projected to stabilise at this level.

Skills in Demand Visa replacing the Temporary Skill Shortage (subclass 482) Visa

The Skills in Demand visa will be replacing the Temporary Skilled Shortage (subclass 482) Visa with a three-tiered system for applicants based on their annual earnings and occupation.

The three-tiered system is planned as follows:

Tier 1 – Specialist Skills PathwayTier 2 – Core Skills PathwayTier 3 – Essential Skills Pathway
– No occupation list applicable, however trades workers, machine operators, drivers and labourers are excluded  

– Requires guaranteed annual earnings of at least $135,000 which will be indexed annually

– Priority processing with a commitment to a 7-day median visa processing time  
– A simpler and regularly updated Core Skills Occupation list managed by Jobs and Skills Australia

– Requires guaranteed annual earnings of at least $70,000 which will be indexed annually

– For occupations earning under $70,000 per year but working in essential skill occupations.
– Further assessment by the government is being undertaken on the best way to introduce this pathway
This pathway is likely to be sector-specific, with stronger regulatory framework, minimum standards and ongoing advice from Jobs and Skills Australia

Key Aspects of the visa

  • The visa will provide for a 4-year stay for all streams;
  • The government is committing to a median processing time of 21 days
  • Visa holders will have the ability to move between sponsors with an 180 day time period to find a new sponsor (increase from the current 60 day period)
  • Pathways to permanent residency will be available to all Skills in Demand visa holders
  • Time spent with any approved employer will be able to be counted towards permanent residency requirements
  • Visa holders will have access to self-nominated independent permanent pathways, in addition to employer sponsored pathways
  • Streamlined labour market testing requirements will be introduced. The requirement to advertise on Workforce Australia has already been removed (see further details on LMT below)

The finer details of this replacement visa have not yet been released however we will continue to provide updates as available. Based on the Government’s current roadmap this visa is planned to be introduced in late 2024 (subject to legislation being introduced).

Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) Levy

The department will be discussing a new payment model for the Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) Government Levy allowing smaller increments over time.

Labour Market Testing (LMT) – Requirement to advertise on Workforce Australia scrapped effective immediately.

The Department will roll out a new approach to streamline Labour Market Testing (LMT).

  • The requirement to advertise on Workforce Australia has been scrapped effective immediately;
  • The LMT advertising period will increase from 4 to 6 months providing for longer validity of job advertisements; and
  • Government has provided some indication that the LMT requirement will be gradually phased out.

Points Test – General Skilled Migration

A new points test is to be developed to sift through skilled applications, providing a quicker and more streamlined route to permanent residency in Australia for skilled migrants.

Student Visas

The Government will be replacing the ‘Genuine Temporary Entrant’ requirement with the new ‘Genuine Student Test’ which will be designed to reduce the misuse of the international student visa program and strengthen compliance requirements for international education providers.

  • There will be a push to control the number of student visa applications being processed.
  • English language test score requirements will be increased
  • List of eligible courses will decrease, and course swapping will be restricted

Temporary Graduate Visas

  • Temporary Graduate holders will be prohibited from applying for another student visa.
  • The eligibility age for Temporary Graduate Visas will be reduced from 50 to 35 years.
  • English language test score will increase from 6 to 6.5.
  • Students studying in regional areas will have eligibility for a second visa of between 1 to 2 years in length depending on their location
  • Length of stay for international graduates will be reduced (see table below)
QualificationPeriod of stay
Bachelor degree or Masters by coursework2 years
Masters by research of PhD3 years

Regional Migration

The Australian Government has long put high importance on supporting regional areas with various visa programs being used to support these initiatives. Under the new migration strategy, regional Australia will be further prioritised.

The government has noted that it will be working closely with regional areas to produce accurate findings of population needs and skill shortages. Additionally, regional visa applications will be fast tracked.

Working Holiday Makers

The Working Holiday Maker visa will not see dramatic changes as of yet. However, changes to the below are being discussed:

  • Length of stay for visa holders; and
  • The 88-day requirement for specified work to be eligible for a subsequent working holiday visa.

Global Talent and Business Innovation and Investment

The Global Talent (subclass 858) visa and Business Innovation and Investment (subclass 188/888) visa will become more centered around applicants who can make specific substantial contribution to Australia.

The Department is considering introducing a new ‘Talent and Innovation’ visa to assist in driving innovative investments into Australia and expanding on entrepreneurship opportunities.

Additionally, the Significant Investor stream (SIV) for the Business Innovation and Investment (subclass 188) visa is expected to continue with further changes yet to be announced.

Further Information and Assistance

Additional updates will be made available as the roll out of these changes take place. If you or your business require any further information on these changes, please contact our office on 1300 083 843 or submit an online enquiry.

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