Australian Visa and Immigration News - IN 2024


Table of Contents

17 May 2024

New Innovation Visa for Exceptionally Talented

On 14 May, the Australian Government announced the introduction of a new Innovation visa to attract exceptionally talented workers, replacing a controversial investor migrant program deemed economically ineffective. The new visa will replace the Global Talent visa (GTI) program, which is scheduled to end in late 2024. The government emphasized its goal "to target exceptionally talented migrants who will drive growth in sectors of national importance." This decision comes amid increasing demands for the centre-left Labor government to reduce migration. A post-pandemic surge in students and other arrivals has worsened an already strained rental market, contributing to higher inflation rates. Therefore, the government is intensifying scrutiny on student visas and will implement a ballot system for the popular work and holiday visa for applicants from China, Vietnam, and India, starting in the fiscal year ending June 2025. Consequently, these measures are anticipated to halve net overseas immigration to 260,000 arrivals in 2024-25, lower than 528,000 in 2022-23.

22 April 2024

63 Per Cent of International Students Choose Australia

Despite the Australian government's decision to cut the Post-study work visas for international students by two years, many still choose to study in Australia, specifically because of employment opportunities after graduation. A new study has found that 63 percent of international students have chosen to study in Australia because they believe the country offers better career prospects after attaining degrees. The survey of 1,058 international students, including current, former, and prospective students, was conducted by YouGov, an international data company, and published by Ascent One, an overseas education consultancy. Students responding to the survey are from the top five source countries of international students in Australia: Columbia China India Philippines Over half of students from Columbia, India, and the Philippines said there are better employment opportunities in Australia than in their home countries. On the other hand, only 34 percent of students from China believe the same. According to the results, 47 percent of students decided to study in Australia because of its good reputation for studying. Meanwhile, 29 percent said they chose Australia because they planned to live there permanently. About 41 percent of potential international students said they did not know any changes made by the Australian government in the migration policy released in December 2023. However, 27 percent said they would not continue studying in Australia due to these changes.

26 March 2024

New Visa Requirements Take Effect

The government announced on 21 March that it will deliver on key commitments from December’s migration strategy with important new changes on March 23, including introducing higher language requirements for visas and a new ‘no further stay’ rule on visitor visas. The Government said changes were required due to “pandemic-era concessions” it had inherited from the former government led by Scott Morrison. “Since September, the government’s actions have led to substantial declines in migration levels, with recent international student visa grants down by 35% on the previous year,” minister for Home Affairs and Cyber Security Clare O’Neil said. Among actions it has made are closing unrestricted working hours for international students, in addition to the pandemic event visa. The English language requirements for student visas has increased from IELTS 5.5 to 6.0 and graduate visas from IELTS 6.0 to 6.5, which will both improve student experience and reduce potential workplace exploitation. New powers under Section 97 of the ESOS Act also took effect on March 23, which allows authorities to suspend high risk education providers from recruiting international students.

27 February 2024

Highest Student Visa Refusal Rate since 2005!

As at February 2024, Approval rates for Australian student visas have dropped to the lowest level, since 2005/06. In the six months to December 2023, 80.9% of total student visa applications were granted — down from 86% in 2022-23, 91.5% in 2021-22 and 89.9% before the pandemic in 2018-19. Refusal rates differ across countries, with offshore higher education visa approvals from India and Nepal dropping from 74.2 and 65.2% in 2022-23 to 60.8 and 47.8%, respectively. "We would have never gone to these sorts of levels before, in terms of approval rates — both in terms of percentage rates but also in terms of absolute numbers," said Abul Rizvi, a former deputy secretary of the immigration department. "We have never refused so many absolute numbers of students, ever." A package of integrity measures was announced under the strategy to lift standards for international students and education providers, alongside planned changes to English language and genuine student requirements. Therefore, certain Education Providers were attracting students where issues such as fraud and non-compliance are common, and they consequently get a high-risk rating and their applications are carefully scrutinized.

24 January 2024

188 Business Innovation and Investment Visa is Closed!

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil has made the decision to close the Business Innovation and Investment Program (BIIP), a scheme introduced in 2012 in a bid to attract high-net individuals into Australia. The program’s 188C Visa, Significant investor stream also known as the “golden ticket” visa allows foreign nationals to stay in Australia for up to five years if they invest at least $5 million AUD into approved investments. The 188C Stream has been long critiqued as a way of fast-tracking Chinese millionaires into Australia, with the cohort making up over 85 per cent of successful applications. The Permanent visa subclass was given the number 888 – which signifies ­triple good luck in Chinese ­numerology. Ms O’Neil stated that the recent changes were a part of an overhaul of Australia’s “broken” migration system. “It has been obvious for years that this visa is not delivering what our country and economy needs from a migration system,” Ms O’Neil said.More than 100,000 overseas migrants have used one of the BIIP streams to gain residency in Australia since 2012, according to the Home Affairs department. Therefore, applications for the entire BIIP 188 Visa Program had closed in lieu of an official announcement from the federal government.

27 February 2024

Significant Migration Strategy Reforms Planned for 2024!

The Government's strategy for 2024 will be to focus on making changes and improvements to Skilled migration and International Education. In this respect, stricter English language requirements will be implemented for students and temporary Graduate visas, and for In-demand Skilled occupations. Also, it has been announced that a new visa for Pacific migrants will be set-up. The government has stressed that Net Overseas Migration is not an immigration policy target, however, the new strategy aims to reduce the figure from 510,000 to the near-pre-pandemic level of 375,000 in the 2023-24 financial year, and then to 250,000 in 2024-25. Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil stated that: "Our goal is to return migration to sustainable levels." The new Visa strategy will increase pathways to permanent residency and clamp down on exploitation of migrants through switching of Temporary visas.

04 December 2023

Sydney is Number One Destination for Irish Accountants!

Many Irish Accountants are moving to Sydney, Australia on Working Holiday visas, and their salary expectations are reasonable - just market-rate or even lower. In addition, if an Employer sponsors them, they have a tendency to stay loyal to the company for a few years. "Sydney is the No. 1 destination in the world for Irish accountants, and they can move over once they qualify," the Lemon Talent co-founder and Irish expat explains. Currently, the Jobless rate is at a near 50-year low of 3.7%, work-force participation at a record high, and with many businesses finding it tough to find employees, therefore, Australia needs more workers. It is forecast that Australia will need to rely on a large number of overseas workers to fill 880,000 roles in industries including health, housing, engineering and technology by 2030.

15 November 2023

Faster Pathway to Permanent Residence for 482 Visa Workers

The Government has announced that it intends to lift the cap on the number of 482 visa applications submitted in Australia, allowing for a larger number of applications. In addition, the Government stated that 482 Visa Applicants will now be eligible for a pathway to Permanent residence, regardless of whether their occupation is on the Short-term, Medium-term or Long-term Lists. Currently, only 482 visa Applicants who have Skilled occupations on the Medium-term or Long-term lists may apply for the ENS 186 visa, which is a route to Permanent residence. Therefore, this expansion to include Short-term occupations will now cover a wider range of occupations, encompassing roles, such as, cooks, chefs, hospitality, health and construction workers.

26 October 2023

Australia Increases Permanent Migration Program

In 2022/23, there has been a significant increase in Permanent residence applications, as well as Temporary Visas, and this had resulted in a backlog of permanent visa applications. In 2021/22. the number of Permanent visa applications increased by 63.5% from 185,030 to 302,434 in 2022/23. The largest source countries were from India then China, Nepal and Philippines. In addition, the Family stream grew by 27.3% in 22/23 compared to 21/22, with a substantial backlog of over 140,000 Parent visa applications. Finally, The Skill stream delivered a record high number of 142,344 applications, with a backlog of more than 184,000 in 2023 compared to 119,000 in 2022.

1 October 2023

Government to crack down on Education Providers Visa Scams

The Government's proposed changes are to restore integrity to the education and migration system, and include strengthening the 'fit and proper person test' for international education providers to avoid private college owners from also functioning as Education Agents.In addition, the Government will share data and statistcics about Education Agents performance, with private Colleges and Universities. Also, there will be a ban on paying Education Agents commissions for transferring students between higher education courses, so as to prevent unscrupulous Agents from enticing students to quit their University course and transfer to a low-fee course of questionable quality.

26 September 2023

Australia resumes Tourist visas for Chinese Groups

The Australian Government has re-commenced the processing of Visitor visas for Chinese Group Tours, for the first time since before the Covid-19 pandemic. Formerly, in 2019, Chinese Visitors were the biggest source of international tourists to Australia, totalling 1.4 million Visitors, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The Minister for Trade and Tourism described the resumption of Chinese Tour Groups as a significant boost to the Australian Tourism industry. He said: "The resumption of Chinese group tour travel will provide another welcome boost for Australia's hard-working tourism operators."

19 September 2023

Victoria's State Nomination Program has Re-opened

The Victorian Government has just re-opened their State Nomination program for the Skilled Nominated, Subclass 190 Visa for Permanent residence, as well as the Skilled Work Regional (Provisional), Subclass 491 Visa, which will remain open until early 2024. Note that Victoria has re-opened Nomination for Onshore and Offshore applicants. The process of applying is that Applicants must initially complete a 'Registration of Interest' (ROI). Currently, there is no timeframe until an ROI is selected, due to large numbers of applications and the fact that the Program is extremely competitive. However, if an Applicant has a strong ROI, then they may receive an application for Victorian Visa Nomination, within 1 -2 months.

12 September 2023

Filipinos to Join Australian Work and Holiday Visa Program

The Australian and Philippines Governmanets have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOA), which allows eligible citizens of both countries to apply for a 12 month multiple entry visa, which allows them to work. The Work and Holiday visa arrangement will be open to Filipino and Australian citizens who are 18 to 31 years of age, at the time of application and who are graduates of tertiary education or have successfully completed at least 2 years of undergraduate study or post-secondary education. In addition, Applicants must meet Health, Character and Security requirements and have medical insurance for the duration of their stay. The MOU is due to take effect at a date mutually agree by both parties, but probably in early 2024.

31 August 2023

Subclass 408 - Pandemic Visa is being Closed

The Immigration Minister, Andrew Giles has closed the Subclass 408, Pandemic Special Event Visa to new Applicants. The 408 Visa was created in 2020, during the Covid-19 restrictions, in order to fill labour shortages and assist International students, who were unable to depart Australia. However, the Visa has been controversial and had negative publicity due to the fact that it allowed APplicants to work full time for unlimited hours, for 12 months. Therefore, from 2 September 2023, the 408 Visa will only be open to applications from current Visa holders, and it will be closed to all Applicants from February 2024.

14 August 2023

Faster Visa Processing Times Now!

Recently, the Department of Home Affairs has hired more than 600 new staff members to support the faster visa processing. So, currently, a Student visa, Subclass 500 is being processed in under 2 weeks. In addition, the 482 Visas are being prioritised, and being assessed, and finalised where complete, within 1 business day, and Subclass 186 Employer Sponsored visas are also being processed very fast, within 2 days from date of lodgement. Also, Working Holiday visa processing times have been expedited and the Subclass 417 Visa is now being processed within a maximum of 14 days. Finally Permanent Skilled Migration applications are being processed within 7 months now, compared to 12 months processing, in February 2023.

10 August 2023

Massive Increase in Number of Migrants coming to Australia

For the first 9 months of the 2022/23 Financial year, there was a significant increase in the Skilled migration intake by 111.7%, which is a Permanent residence number of 144,040, an increase from 68,055, in the previous financial year. In addition, Student visa approvals jumped up to a 154.4% increase to 511,149, which was previously only 200,941. Reasons for the larger numbers are due to increasing number of Visa applications, since the Post-Covid rebuild.

7 August 2023

International Students can Extend their Stay in Australia

The Government has permitted International Students and Sponsored Workers to extend their Stay in Australia, under a Covid-19 Pandemic Event Visa, which was set-up in 2020. The Australian Labour Government has already approved more than 66,000 Covid-19 Visas, which is more than the number of Visas granted, when Australia had border restrictions.