The Australian federal government announced its 2020-21 budget this week including details of planned changes to its 2020-21 immigration program.
Though the announcement included the good news that the migration program would remain unchanged at 160,000 places for the 2020-21 program year, the distribution of the quota will change quite significantly with an increased focus on Australia’s economic recovery and job creation.
The key points of the budget announcements are highlighted below.
- 79,600 places allocated in the Skill stream
- 77,300 places have been allocated to the Family stream
- Merely 6,500 places allocated to Skilled Independent visas
- Changes to partner language tests for the family stream
Migration Program levels
The family stream will increase from 47,732 places to 77,300. To ensure that Australia recruits talented individuals to help with the economic recovery, Employer-Sponsored, Global Talent, Business Innovation and Investment Program visas will be given priority.
Onshore visa applicants and partner visa applicants in regional areas will also be prioritised. This is to encourage migration to regional areas of Australia.
Of 79,600 places allocated for the skilled stream in 2020-21, only 6,500 places (18,652 in 2019-20) have been allocated to Skilled Independent visas which allow migrants to settle anywhere in Australia. This is a fraction of the numbers available last year and will significantly increase competition (and likely the number of points required) to qualify for 189 Visa Sponsorship.
Australian Skilled Visa 2020 – 2021 Allocations
|Business Innovation & Investment program||13,500|
Visa refunds and waivers
The federal government has indicated that some visa holders will be able to access a VAC refund. Prospective Marriage visa holders and Pacific Labour Scheme and Seasonal Worker Programme visa holders will be able to have their VAC refunded.
If you are a temporary skilled worker, visitor or a working holidaymaker, you are eligible to have the VAC on the subsequent visa application waived.
Visa refunds and waives are only applicable to visa holders who are unable to travel because of the border closure and travel restrictions.
Subclass 189 – New Zealand Stream
New Zealand citizens who intend to apply for a subclass 189 under the New Zealand stream will have to show that their taxable income is at or above the income threshold for at least three years out of the last five income year. This has been changed from needing to show income above the threshold for four years out of the five years.
The income threshold since 2014 is $53,900.
Business, Investment and Innovation Program
The 2020-21 migration program aims to support the economic recovery post-COVID-19. For this reason, places for the business, investment and innovation program has increased to 13,500.
The government will be streamlining and improving the operation of the Business Innovation and Investment Program from 1 July 2021. The visa application charges will also increase by 11.3% from 1 July 2021.
Global Talent Independent program
A Global Business and Talent Attraction Taskforce will be established. The purpose of the task force is to attract international businesses and outstanding talents to Australia to help with the post-COVID-19 economy recovery.
The Global Talent Visa has been allocated 15,000 places and the number of places available for business investors has been doubled to 13,500 places.
It builds on the existing Global Talent Initiative and Business Innovation and Investment Program.
Family stream program and visas
New changes have been introduced to the partner visas.
Partner visas have been allocated 72,300 places, an increase from 37,118 last year.
The government has allocated 72,300 places for family visas. This is an increase from 37,118 places. Pertinent changes visa are:
- Mandatory character checks will be performed on the sponsor. This to reduce the risk of family violence, and it is in line with the Department’s existing policy.
- English language requirement will be put in place for the visa applicants and sponsors. The aim is to promote social cohesion and economic participation.
It is expected that 75 per cent of Partner visas will go to those already in Australia, Minister Tudge said.
The changes to the English language testing could be a concern for some.
From late 2021, new partner visa applicants and permanent resident sponsors will be required to have functional-level English (an average band score of at least 4.5 in IELTS or an overall band score of at least 30 for each of the 4 test components in PTE) or to demonstrate that they have made reasonable efforts to learn English.
Applicants will be able to demonstrate this through, for example, the completion of 500 hours of free English language classes through the AMEP.
You can check out the media release from Alan Tudge, the acting minister for immigration here.
We’d love to hear your comments on these recent changes so please feel free to post them below.