A number of legislative reforms came into effect on 1 July 2023, the beginning of the new financial year. These changes were introduced to improve the previous migration system. The specific changes, the corresponding reasons for these changes, as well as the implications of the changes, will be discussed below.

Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT)

From 1 July 2023, the Albanese Government increased the TSMIT from $53,900 to $70,0001. This marks the first increase in a decade since 2013. This figure places the TSMIT approximately in line with where it should be if it were appropriately indexed over the last decade.

The Albanese Government introduced this change in response to statistics that approximately 90 percent of full-time jobs in Australia paid more than the previous TSMIT figure of $53,9002. This left temporary skilled migrant workers vulnerable to exploitation, and undermined Australia's skilled migration system3.

However, when superannuation is included, the increase is approximately $16,000. Many restaurant owners have shown concern about this jump, noting that it will only add to existing pressures following the COVID-19 pandemic, including labour shortages and inflation pressures4.

Work Limitations for Student Visa Holders

From 1 July 2023, the Albanese Government reintroduced work limitations on the hours that student visa holders (subclass 500) could work whilst studying and working in Australia5.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, these restrictions were limited to 40 hours per fortnight. These limitations were temporarily relaxed during the COVID-19 pandemic and removed in January 2022 to address workforce shortages. The Albanese Government's decision to reintroduce the limitations at an increased 48 hours per fortnight was to ensure student visa holders could focus on their studies whilst also taking up paid employment and gain valuable work experience. The limitations apply during study terms and semesters.

The Albanese Government has exempted student visa holders working in the aged care sector on 9 May 2023, announcing that they are able to continue working unrestricted hours in the sector until 31 December 20236.

However, concerns have arisen regarding the sudden restrictions, from unlimited work hours to 48 hours a fortnight. There have been concerns expressed that under these restrictions, students will struggle to make ends meet with the rising cost of living7.

Changes for UK Passport Holders

As part of the Australia-United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement (A-UKFTA) between Australia and the UK, a number of changes have come into effect and will affect UK passport holders.

From 1 July 2023, for Working Holiday Visas (subclass 417), UK passport holders are able to apply between the ages of 18 and 35 inclusive. The implementation by the Albanese Government is a 5-year increase from the previous age limit of 30 years. This provides UK passport holders with an extended opportunity to explore Australia whilst earning an income.

From 1 July 2024, UK passport holders will be eligible to be granted Working Holiday Visas for up to a total of three years without needing to meet any specified work requirements8. Currently, applicants applying for a second Working Holiday Visa is obligated to complete a minimum of 88 days, or three months, of 'specified work', and six months of this work to apply for a third Working Holiday Visa. Removing this requirement will result in more attractive Working Holiday Visa conditions, although it is likely that concerns will arise in exempting large numbers of UK passport holders from addressing the ongoing labour shortages in specific industries.

From 31 May 2023, UK passport holders are exempt from the Labour Market Test. This applies to applicants of the Temporary Skill Shortage Visa (subclass 482), which previously required the sponsor of the applicant to prove that they could not find a suitable Australian worker to fill the role9. This generally comes in the form of advertising the position in Australia. By implementing this exemption, the Albanese Government aims to create a seamless process 'to cut red tape and reduce delays to permanent residency'10, with the Labour Market Test set to be replaced entirely.

Changes to Visa Condition 8547- 6-Month Work Limitation

From 1 July 2023, work limitations for Working Holiday Makers under the Working Holiday Visa (subclass 417) has reverted to the pre-COVID-19 length of 6 months11. This condition applies to working Holiday Makers working with any one employer. This was temporarily relaxed in January 2022 in response to labour shortages during COVID-1912. Any work carried out for an employer before 1 July 2023 will not count towards the 6 months, meaning that Working Holiday Makers may continue to work for the same employer for an additional 6 months, even if they had already worked for the employer prior to 1 July 202313. This provides Working Holiday Makers with an opportunity to make alternative arrangements, and employers to seek other employees.

Changes for Special Category Visa (SCV) (Subclass 444) Holders

From 1 July 2023, New Zealand citizens holding a SCV and living in Australia have a direct pathway to Australian citizenship. New Zealand citizens who have lived in Australia for more than four years, and arrived in Australia after 26 February 2001 are eligible to bypass the standard requirement to apply for a permanent visa before applying for citizenship in Australia14. The Albanese Government aims to align the rights of New Zealanders in Australia with those of Australians in New Zealand and create a 'fairer, better managed and more inclusive migration system'15.

Changes for Certain Temporary Graduate Visa (Subclass 485) Holders

From 1 July 2023, certain Temporary Graduate Visa holders are provided the opportunity to extend their stay in Australia for two years. Below are the legislative reforms to extend the visa holders' stays:

  • Bachelor's degree graduates may stay for up to four years, doubling the previous limit of two years
  • Master's degree graduates may stay for up to five years, an increase from the previous limit of three years
  • Doctoral graduates may stay for up to six years, an increase from the previous limit of four years16.

This applies to those who meet the relevant eligibility criteria for the Post-Study Work stream and studied an eligible course. Bachelor and Masters courses must be on the list to be eligible, whilst all doctoral degrees are eligible17.


1 https://minister.homeaffairs.gov.au/ClareONeil/Pages/temporary-skilled-migration-income-threshold-raised.aspx#:~:text=Frozen%20since%202013%2C%20around%2090,over%20the%20previous%2010%20years.

2 https://minister.homeaffairs.gov.au/ClareONeil/Pages/temporary-skilled-migration-income-threshold-raised.aspx#:~:text=Frozen%20since%202013%2C%20around%2090,over%20the%20previous%2010%20years.

3 https://minister.homeaffairs.gov.au/ClareONeil/Pages/temporary-skilled-migration-income-threshold-raised.aspx#:~:text=Frozen%20since%202013%2C%20around%2090,over%20the%20previous%2010%20years.

4 https://www.sbs.com.au/language/hindi/en/article/indian-restaurant-owners-in-australia-worried-by-temporary-skilled-migrants-pay-rises-after-migration-review/hwykshkuw

5 https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/getting-a-visa/visa-listing/student-500/temporary-relaxation-of-working-hours-for-student-visa-holders

6 https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/getting-a-visa/visa-listing/student-500/temporary-relaxation-of-working-hours-for-student-visa-holders

7 https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-06-30/reinstatement-of-work-cap-for-international-students/102541746

8 https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/getting-a-visa/visa-listing/work-holiday-417/specified-work

9 https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/employing-and-sponsoring-someone/sponsoring-workers/nominating-a-position/labour-market-testing

10 https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/apr/27/albanese-government-to-radically-streamline-australia-migration-with-three-tiered-system-for-skilled-workers

11 https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/getting-a-visa/visa-listing/work-holiday-417/6-month-work-limitation#:~:text=Working%20Holiday%20Maker%20(WHM)%20program&text=This%20means%20that%20from%201,employer%20before%201%20July%202023.

12 https://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/australian-visa-changes-for-2023-2024/8oypo0xui

13 https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/getting-a-visa/visa-listing/work-holiday-417/6-month-work-limitation#:~:text=Working%20Holiday%20Maker%20(WHM)%20program&text=This%20means%20that%20from%201,employer%20before%201%20July%202023.

14 https://www.pm.gov.au/media/direct-pathway-australian-citizenship-new-zealanders

15 https://www.pm.gov.au/media/direct-pathway-australian-citizenship-new-zealanders

16 https://www.studyaustralia.gov.au/news/post-study-work-rights-extension-qualifications-announced

17 https://www.education.gov.au/extended-poststudy-work-rights-international-graduates/resources/cricos-courses-eligible-extended-poststudy-work-rights

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