Key Immigration reforms in the 2024/2025 Australian federal budget



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A strategic shift in Australia's immigration policy, to attract skilled talent to support economic growth and innovation.
Australia Immigration
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The Australian federal government's 2024/2025 budget introduces several significant reforms to the immigration system. These changes align with the December 2023 announcements in the New Migration Strategy. Overall, the reforms aim to drive economic growth, address skill shortages, and ensure the integrity of the migration process. This article provides an overview of the key announcements and their implications.

Permanent Migration Program: A Long-Term Planning Approach

The 2024-25 permanent Migration Program planning level is set at 185,000 places, with approximately 71% allocated to the Skill stream and 28% to the Family stream. This is relatively consistent with the previous year's allocation of 190,000 places but with a few important changes.

Comparison with Previous Year

Employer Sponsored visas Increased from 36,825 to 44,000, reflecting a significant boost in opportunities for your business to hire overseas talent directly.
Skilled Independent visas Decreased from 30,375 to 16,900, indicating a shift towards more employer-driven and state-nominated migration.
State/Territory Nominated visas Increased from 30,400 to 33,000, emphasising the importance of regional skills needs.
Global Talent (Independent) visas Slightly decreased from 5,000 to 4,000, maintaining a focus on attracting top-tier talent with a more targeted approach.

This long-term approach will, overall, align migration with Australia's evolving economic needs and provide your business with a reliable pipeline of skilled workers.

Overall Migration Numbers

The budget documents project net overseas migration (NOM) as follows:

2023/2024 395,000
2024/2025 260,000
2025/2026 255,000

These figures are a decrease from the pandemic recovery high of 528,000 in 2022/2023. This reflects a return to more sustainable migration levels.

Implications for Businesses and Migrants

The consistent permanent migration level of 185,000 places for 2024/2025, with a focus on the Skill stream, indicates strong support for businesses needing skilled labour. Moreover, the Employer Sponsored category has increased from 36,825 to 44,000 places, providing more opportunities for your business to sponsor overseas employees directly. However, the Skilled Independent category has been reduced significantly from 30,375 to 16,900 places, while the State/Territory Nominated category has increased from 30,400 to 33,000, highlighting a shift towards regional and employer-nominated pathways.

For migrants, the steady planning level ensures continued opportunities for permanent residency, particularly for those with skills in demand. Additionally, the reduction in the Skilled Independent category means potential migrants might need to consider employer sponsorship or state nomination pathways more seriously.

Overall, these projections and planning levels reflect Australia's strategic approach to balancing economic growth, skill shortages, and migration system integrity. As a business owner, you can look forward to a stable and skilled workforce. At the same time, migrants have clear pathways to contribute to and benefit from Australia's labour market.

Migration System Reforms: Enhancing Integrity and Economic Prosperity

To strengthen the migration system and support Australia's economic objectives, the government has allocated $18.3 million over four years. This funding will focus on:

  • Information and Education Activities: The government is investing $15 million into providing migrant workers with accurate information about their rights and workplace protections. This initiative aims to prevent exploitation and ensure compliance with employment standards.
  • Data-Matching Pilot: $1.9 million will support a pilot program for data matching between the Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Taxation Office, further protecting migrant workers from exploitation.

Introducing the National Innovation Visa

Replacing the Global Talent visa (subclass 858), the new National Innovation visa will target exceptionally talented migrants, particularly in sectors crucial to national growth. This change is part of a broader strategy to attract high-calibre talent and drive innovation within Australia's key industries.

In addition, the budget confirms the cessation of the Business Innovation and Investment visa (subclass 188/88) program. The government states that this will streamline the migration process, with application charge refunds available from September 2024.

Changes to the Temporary Skill Shortage Visa

From 23 November 2024, the work experience requirement for the Temporary Skill Shortage (subclass 482) visa will be reduced from two years to one year. Overall, this adjustment will facilitate quicker access to skilled overseas workers, helping address immediate skill gaps more efficiently.

Mobility Arrangement for Talented Early-Professionals Scheme (MATES)

Starting 1 November 2024, the MATES program will allow 3,000 Indian graduates and early career professionals to live and work in Australia for up to two years. This initiative is designed to bolster the workforce in key sectors and grow a pool of young, skilled professionals.

Work and Holiday Visa Program: Streamlining Access

Furthermore, the immigration reforms introduce a new pre-application ballot process for the capped Work and Holiday (subclass 462) visa program. This applies to applicants from China, Vietnam, and India starting in 2024-25. A $25 ballot charge will apply, simplifying the process and ensuring a fairer allocation of visas.

Security Upgrades for Immigration Detention Centres

Over the next three years, the government will fund security improvements at the Yongah Hill Immigration Detention Centre. This measure underscores the government's commitment to maintaining a secure and orderly immigration system.

Administrative Review Tribunal and Migration Backlogs

Additionally, a significant allocation of $1 billion over five years will establish the new Administrative Review Tribunal (ART), replacing the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). This investment aims to address migration backlogs in the courts, ensuring faster and more efficient resolution of cases.

Support for Migrants and Refugees

Furthermore, the budget includes $35.4 million for various support services for migrants and refugees. Specifically, this funding will aid the settlement of Afghan humanitarian entrants and extend Medicare access to Ukrainians holding Bridging visa E, enhancing their integration and well-being in Australia.

Key Takeaways

The new reforms reflect a strategic shift in Australia's immigration policy. There is now a strong emphasis on attracting skilled talent to support economic growth and innovation.

Key implications include:

  1. Streamlined Hiring Processes: The reduction in work experience requirements for the Temporary Skill Shortage visa and the introduction of the National Innovation visa will simplify the process of hiring overseas talent, enabling quicker filling of critical roles.
  2. Long-Term Planning: The extended planning horizon for the permanent Migration Program allows for better alignment of long-term workforce planning with migration policy, ensuring a steady pipeline of skilled workers.
  3. Access to Emerging Talent: Programs like MATES and changes to the Work and Holiday visa scheme will provide access to young professionals offering fresh perspectives and skills.
  4. Enhanced Compliance and Protection: The focus on protecting migrant workers and improving data matching maintains compliance with employment laws, fostering a fair and ethical work environment.
  5. Support Services for Migrants: The government's investment in support services will aid the integration of new migrants, making it easier for your business to onboard and retain overseas talent.

In conclusion, the 2024/2025 budget's immigration reforms present a robust framework for leveraging overseas talent effectively. Staying informed and adapting to these changes will be crucial for ensuring competitiveness and readiness to meet future challenges.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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