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What the budget means for Immigration

Jim Chalmers, Australia’s Federal Treasurer handed down his third budget with a wide range of developments that will affect immigration including one area that has received little attention so far which involves the loosening of requirements for trades working in construction.

 

For construction workers

 

A total of $1.8 million has been devoted to streamline skills assessments for 1900 potential migrants with suitable qualifications that will aid the construction and housing sectors.

 

The federal government has said that it recognises the need to find many thousands of workers to build new homes and its budget direction will help meet that need.

 

Overseas workers may be able to help fill the gaps in the construction sector and the government is to fast-track applications for those with construction skills. Those from countries that have comparable qualifications to Australia will be eligible and it is hoped that there will be around 1,900 migrants in that cohort.

 

A further 2,600 with constructions skills but not with Australian recognised qualifications will be fast-tracked and given practical tests in order to be approved for work.

 

Permanent migration

Total permanent migration for the 2024-25 year will be set at 185,000 places with about 70 percent in the Skills stream. From 2025–26, the Government will extend the planning horizon for the permanent Migration Program from one year to four years. Net overseas migration is forecast to approximately halve from 528,000 in 2022–23 to 260,000 in 2024–25.

 

Migration reform

Over the next four years the Government will provide $18.3 million to reform the country’s migration system and this includes $15 million over three years to provide information and education to migrant workers with respect to workplace, compliance and migration laws.

 

The Government will also conduct a data-matching pilot program with the Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Tax office in an effort to stop the exploitation of migrant workers and the abuse of the labour market and migration system.

 

Engagement with Southeast Asia

A total of $505.9 million will be spent over five years starting from 2023 to strengthen Australia’s engagement with Southeast Asia this funding includes $1.1 million over two years from 2023 to improve visa access for ASEAN member countries and Timor-Leste.

 

China, Vietnam and India visa reforms

A pre-application ballot style process for the capped Work and Holiday visa (subclass 462) for China, Vietnam and India will help to manage program demand and the application processing times for these countries. 

 

MATES – Mobility Arrangement for Talented Early-professionals Scheme

This MATES program is for Indian nationals and will start at 1 November 2024 to offer a new mobility path for 3000 Indian graduates and early career professionals aged 18 to 30 years at the time of application in targeted fields. They will have the right to study, live and work in Australia for up to two years. This visa will be offered with a pre-application ballot attracting a cost of $25 for the ballot and $365 for the application.

 

Indian nationals will also have the Visitor visa (subclass 600) Business Visitor stream increased from three to five years.

 

Global Talent visa replacement

A new National Innovation visa will replace the current Global Talent visa in the hope that it will target exceptionally talented migrants who will drive growth in sectors deemed of national importance. The Business Innovation and Investment visa program (BIIP) will cease, and refunds will be offered.

 

Temporary Skill Shortage work experience

The Government will reduce the work experience requirement for the Temporary Skill Shortage subclass 482 visa from two years to one year for all applicants from 23 November 2024.

 

Addressing the backlog at the Administrative Review Tribunal

Over five years from 2023 the Government is to provide $1 billion to establish and support the operation of the new Administrative Review Tribunal (ART) which replaces the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) and it is hoped it will address the backlog which was due to the high number of applications for judicial review of migration decisions.

 

Funding will be $854.3 million for ART to enable it to finalise all lodgements each year and improve regional accessibility. There will be funding from the Budget provided to the AAT for the Immigration Assessment Authority to continue merits reviews of unsuccessful protection visa applications as well as funding to address the backlog in the federal courts with the establishment of two migration hubs dedicated to hearing migration and protection matters.

 

There will be $75.1 million to support agencies to transition from the AAT to the new ART.

 

Reforms for migrant and refugee settlement

The Government will provide $120.9 million over five years from 2023–24 to improve the sustainability of settlement services and promote better economic and social outcomes for refugees and migrants.

 

The funding includes the Humanitarian Settlement Program to support settlement service delivery for refugees and migrants, extending targeted support, including Youth Transition Support services to assist refugee and migrant youth to access education, employment and government services and specialised support for refugee and migrant women experiencing domestic and family violence as part of the Settlement Engagement and Transition Support (SETS) Program – settlement support for Afghan humanitarian entrants.

 

Funds will also be channelled to continue conversational English classes in Community Hubs, for access to Medicare for Ukrainians and their immediate family members who hold a Bridging visa E, until 30 June 2027 and to extend the Community Refugee Integration and Settlement Pilot to 30 June 2026.

 

Hamas-Israel conflict

Support will be available for individuals and families from significantly affected areas of Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories including for the Red Cross to provide emergency financial assistance to recent arrivals and to extend Medicare eligibility for Bridging Visa E holders.

 

Escaping Violence Program

The Escaping Violence Payment trial and Temporary Visa Holders Experiencing Violence Pilot will be extended until 30 June 2025. Building on the successes and learnings of the current trial and pilot, the Leaving Violence Program will commence from mid-2025 following the procurement of an appropriate service provider.

 

The Government will provide funding to make permanent the Leaving Violence Program that will provide financial support, safety assessments and referrals to support services for violent intimate partner relationship with $6.1 million over four years to be provided for continued specialised support for visa holders experiencing domestic and family violence through the Domestic and Family Violence visa support service.

 

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