Australia’s latest immigration changes explained!

The Australian government has recently introduced various significant changes to immigration regulations affecting many visa applicants and international employers. All the important changes are mentioned and explained below.

Student Visa processing priorities

The Australian government has integrated processing priorities for student visas and student guardian visas in Ministerial Direction No. 107 which took effect on 14th December, 2023. All CRICOS (Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students) registered education providers will be assigned an evidence level to assist the government in giving higher priority to international students applying to study in Australia.

According to Ministerial Direction No. 107, the highest priorities have been assigned to:

  • Student Visa applications from foreign countries by:
    • Defence Sector, Foreign Affairs, School Sector, and Postgraduate Research Sector applicants.
    • English Language Intensive Course for Overseas Students (ELICOS), Higher Education, Vocational Education and Training (VET), and Non-Award sector prospectors studying under an evidence level 1 education provider.
  • Every Student Guardian Visa Application without consideration of whether it was applied from outside or inside Australia.
  • Subsequent Entry Visa applications related to an unwed family member below the age of 18 from foreign countries.

All secondary applicants included in primary visa applications will be assigned the same priority as the primary applicant. This is not inclusive of Subsequent Entry Visas as they were not included in the primary visa applications. If a primary applicant is looking to take multiple courses of education, the priority level of the applicant will be assigned according to the principal course of the applicant based on its AQF (Australian Qualifications Framework) level. These new Student Visa processing priorities are being applied to all visa applications that haven’t been finalized before 15th December 2023.

Labour Market Testing Requirement removed for advertisements on Workforce Australia Website

According to the immigration changes this past month, the requirement for employers to advertise on Workforce Australia website has been removed. This change applies to subclass 482 and 494 nomination applications, allowing employers more flexibility in relation to how they undertake Labour Market Testing. Simpler text has also been added to the reformed instrument hinting that nominated positions may stay for more than 2 periods at once.

Migration Strategy Introduced

The government also introduced a new Migration Strategy as part of the immigration changes this month, outlining significant immigration changes. There are 8 main actions outlined in this Migration Strategy:

  1. Addressing skill needs by changing Temporary Skilled Migration.
    • A new visa will be introduced with the name of Skills in Demand Visa, allowing its holders complete mobility and clear options to obtain a Permanent Residence Visa.
    • A new pathway with the name Specialist Skills Pathway will be introduced, allowing highly skilled workers to give greater consideration to Australia as an option.
    • A Core Skills Pathway will be introduced to allow Australia to better focus on specific occupations they have a need for.
    • New visa settings are being introduced to allow foreign workers in the labor market greater mobility and reduce worker exploitation.
    • Streamlining Labour Market Testing and visa processing and making them more efficient.
  2. Bringing long-term prosperity by reforming Permanent Skilled Migration.
    • Reforming the points test for Permanent Skilled Migration, and introducing a new Talent and Innovation visa for migrants who will bring growth to sectors of national importance.
  3. Improving the quality of international education in Australia and increasing its integrity.
    • Increasing the Higher English language requirements of international students.
    • Increasing strictness towards insecure Student Visa applications and investing 19 million dollars towards the Home Affairs Student Visa integrity unit.
    • Attempting to further restrict onshore visa hopping to increase system integrity.
    • Simplifying Temporary Graduate Visa settings to reduce the possibility of errors.
    • Introducing better measures to aid international students to better recognize their full potential
  4. Reducing exploitation of workers and the visa system.
  • Introducing a new public register of employer sponsors to increase our integrity and support the mobility of migrant workers.
  1. Allowing better control over migration to better allocate skills.
  • Going forward with a new approach to focus better on long-term collaborations between the greater states and territories on overseas migration.
  1. Adjusting Regional Visa and Working Holiday Maker Program to focus better on regional Australia and its workers.
  • Giving regional visas the highest priority in visa processing.
  1. Improving our ties with the people of the Indo-Pacific areas.
  2. Making migration easier by simplifying the migration system for migrants and employers
  • Removing over 20 visas that have been deemed unnecessary and repetitive to bring simplicity to the migration system.

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