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  • Writer's pictureDessie

Ups and downs of Australian migration and proposed reforms

After years of migration ups and downs the Albanese government says it will fix Australia’s broken and ignored migration system. Over the past couple of years in the post pandemic migration boom it was a catch-up as stated by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.


The estimates of net overseas migration for this year financial year will be 375,000 compared with 510,000 in the previous financial year. These numbers will fall further in years to come according to projections and will be as low as 235,000 in the 2026/27 financial year.


No doubt the current Australia-wide housing shortage has played into this reduction in migration numbers as the government feels pressured by the opposition and the public in general.


The government says the changes will be the “biggest reforms in a generation” and perhaps they will but they are not drastic or draconian, they will be remedies to deal with problems in the system such as migrant worker exploitation, misuse of international student visas and an overly complex and bureaucratic system.


Moving towards a strategy that aims to attract highly skilled permanent migrants the government hopes to reduce low-skilled workers that are often the target of exploitation.

This new 100 pages policy document covers a revision of temporary skilled migration as well as the misuse of the international student visa scheme.


With regards to the international student intake the increase in the requirements for the English language are minimal with a student visa score up from 5.5 to 6.0. However, what will be more difficult is that the pandemic concession of uncapped paid work will go instead there will be a 48 hour per fortnight limit. Another $19 million is to be spent on funding to assist the student visa integrity unit in the Home Affairs Department to reduce misuse of the student visa scheme.


There are eight key actions to the 2023 review of the migration system.


New Skills in Demand visa with three targeted pathways, and visa settings that encourage migrant worker mobility in the labour market. New commitments include:


A new Specialist Skills Pathway to make it easier for Australia to attract highly skilled workers, for example in the technology or green energy industries

A Core Skills Pathway to meet targeted workforce needs, with a simpler, regularly updated occupation list for the skills Australia needs

New visa settings that give migrant workers more mobility in the labour market to help tackle worker exploitation and drive productivity

Streamlined labour market testing and visa processing.


Reshaping permanent skilled migration to drive long term prosperity.


Strengthening of international education integrity and quality

Package of integrity measures to lift the standards for international students and education providers, while ensuring graduates help meet skills shortages and do not become ‘permanently temporary’. New commitments include:

•        Higher English language requirements for international students and graduates

•        More scrutiny of high-risk student visa applications and a $19m investment into the Home Affairs student visa integrity unit

•        Restrictions on onshore visa hopping that undermines system integrity and drives ‘permanent temporariness’

•        Strengthened and simplified Temporary Graduate subclass 485 visa settings

• Measures to support international students and graduates to realise their potential.


Tackling migrant work exploitation and the misuse of the visa system by introducing:

• Comprehensive suite of legislation, powers, penalties and policies to combat worker exploitation and restore integrity to the migration system.

•        New public register of employer sponsors to improve integrity and support migrant worker mobility.


Planning migration to provide the right skills in the right places

•        Set up a longer-term, evidence-based approach to planning migration that closely collaborates with states and territories and ensures population planning is based on the best available population data and forecasts.

•        Greater state and territory collaboration on net overseas migration forecasts when planning permanent migration over the long-term.


Tailored regional visas and Working Holiday Maker Program to support regional Australia

•        Ensure visas for regional Australia are prioritised first, and a commitment to evaluating regional migration settings

•        Working Holiday Maker program to support the development objectives in regional Australia and tackle worker exploitation.

•        Regional visas to receive the highest priority visa processing.


Deepening Australia's people-to-people ties in the Indo-Pacific

A new approach to developing links with the Indo-Pacific region, including through a direct pathway to citizenship for New Zealanders and increased mobility with Pacific Island and Southeast Asian countries.


Simplifying the migration system to improve the experience for migrants and employers

•        System-wide simplification agenda that will streamline visa settings, reduce visa classes and make the system easier to use.

•        Removal of 20+ unnecessary and duplicative visas to simplify the visa system.

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