In a bid to counter the increasing trend of skilled individuals choosing countries like Canada over Australia, the Australian government has recently put forth a proposal to revamp its migration system.
The objective is to swiftly attract talented workers and provide them with a clear path to permanent residency. Recognizing the competitive nature of the global talent market, the government aims to implement new migration policies that will entice skilled migrants to contribute to the local labour market.
As part of this initiative, Australia plans to revive its point-based migration system.
According to Fiona Wong, a Partner at Gilton Valeo Lawyers specializing in corporate immigration law, Australia’s current points-based migration system has its limitations.
It imposes quotas for each occupation specific to states and territories, leading to competitiveness, lengthy processing times, expensive applications, and a relatively weaker ability to attract younger and highly educated migrants compared to Canada.
Wong explains, “Canada’s points test is innovative and focuses on simplified eligibility criteria, generous visa conditions such as broad work rights, accelerated processing, a seamless application journey, and deliberate marketing. Unlike Australia, Canada’s migration system is not state-based, as its constitution mandates federal and provincial governments to share responsibility for migration.”
Reviewing Australia’s Point-based Immigration System
As part of the review of Australia’s migration system, the government intends to tap into the expertise of states and territories while improving data collection and sharing between governments.
This approach, known as place-based, aims to move away from the complex and siloed visa settings currently prevalent in the state and territory-based points-based programs.
Anticipated Changes in Australian Immigration Policy
Following the National Press Conference by Clare O’Neil, the Minister of Home Affairs, and the Federal Budget announcement, significant changes to the Australian migration system are expected to be implemented within the next 3 to 6 months. Some of the proposed changes include:
- Streamlining and simplifying the skilled visa program through the establishment of a three-tiered processing system, categorizing workers as highly skilled, mainstream, or essential workers.
- Creating additional pathways to permanent residency for holders of Student Visas and Employer Sponsored visas.
- Increasing the minimum salary requirements for Employer-Sponsored visa applicants.
- Strengthening the regulations surrounding Student Visas to ensure that students genuinely pursue their studies and support Australia’s skill needs.
The following changes are slated to take effect from July 1, 2023:
- The temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold will be raised from A$53,900 to A$70,000.
- International student visa holders will be allowed to work up to 48 hours per fortnight.
- International students working in the aged care sector will be exempt from the 48-hour fortnightly work cap until December 31, 2023.
- New Zealand citizens will be eligible to apply for citizenship directly.
- Certain subclass 485 Temporary Graduate visa holders will have the opportunity to extend their visas for an additional 2 years.
- Visa application charges by the Department will increase by 6%, with select visitor and temporary visa subclasses seeing an additional 15% rise, and business innovation and investment visas facing a 40% increase.
- Enhanced enforcement and compliance measures will be implemented to ensure the integrity of the migration system.
Australia’s proposed changes to its migration system aim to attract and retain skilled workers, streamline visa processing, and align the country’s immigration policies with the evolving demands of the global talent market. These initiatives seek to position Australia as a favourable destination for skilled migrants and maintain its competitiveness on the international stage.