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Coming into effect in 2024, the Australian Government have announced an intention to overhaul the Australian immigration system.

In its Migration Strategy, the Government outlined proposed reforms to create a more “fit for purpose” immigration program.

The most significant proposed changes are outlined below.

Commitment to regional Australia visas

The Government will ensure that visas for Regional Australia receive the highest processing priority.

The Government has also signalled an intention to evaluate regional migration settings and the Working Holiday Maker program to ensure migration supports development objectives in Regional Australia.

In its continued commitment to Regional Australia, the Government will ensure that international student graduates from study in regional areas continue to have access to a subsequent Temporary Graduate visa of 1-2 years in length, depending on the location of their study.

Labour Market Testing (LMT)

LMT will be streamlined across all platforms, in order to make the process more cohesive for visa applicants.

By way of concrete commitments:

  • The Government has signalled its intent to increasing the validity period for LMT advertising from 4 months up to 6 months; and
  • Removing the requirement to advertise positions through Workforce Australia, effective 11 December 2023.

The Government has also signalled its consideration that LMT should shift from being an employer conducted process towards mechanisms for robust and genuine independent verification of labour market need by Jobs and Skills Australia, a Government agency established to provide independent advice on current, emerging, and future workforce, skills, and training needs.

Skills in Demand Visa

The Government intends to replace the current Temporary Skill Shortage (subclass 482) visa with the new Skills in Demand visa in late 2024.

A key feature of the Skills in Demand visa is the shift to more worker mobility across industries, which better reflects the nature of how skills are used, and how they will be increasingly used, in the labour market.

The Skills in Demand visa is intended to be structured into three pathways (depending on the foreign worker’s proposed earnings in Australia) will be implemented in late 2024:

  • The Specialist Skills pathway. For foreign nationals earning at least AUD 135,000 (excluding high salary trades workers, machinery operators and labourers). This visa will receive expedited processing.
  • The Core Skills pathway. For the bulk of foreign workers with earnings between AUD 70,000 and AUD 135,000.
  • The Essential Skills pathway. For foreign workers in critical industries earning less than AUD 70,000, with a higher focus on regulation and compliance focused on combatting worker exploitation.

Another significant change is that Skills in Demand visa holders will have enhanced pathways to permanent residence. In particular:

  1. periods of employment with any approved employer will count towards permanent residence requirements; and
  2. expanded options to apply for permanent residence through self-nominated independent pathways for Skills in Demand visa holders, for example, through a reformed points test.

The Government also intends to establish a median service standard of 21 days for the new Skills in Demand visa and 7 days for the Specialist Skills Pathway.

General Skilled Migration points test reforms

The Government will consider the development of a new analysis-based points test to identify more effectively the independent migrants who will make the greatest contribution to the country.

The Government has indicated the factors that may be afforded more significant weight in the reformed points test would be factors such as education, English language skills, occupation and age; as supposed to whether an applicant has completed Credentialled community language or Professional Year qualifications.

In this way, the Government intends for the reformed points test to better reward skill level over perseverance, which will mean for example, faster pathways for international student graduates who are working in skilled jobs in the labour market, but fewer pathways for graduates not working in skilled jobs.

Reforms to International Education Visas

The Government intends to reform the Student and Temporary Graduate visa regime in early-to-mid 2024. These intended changes include:

  • Higher English Language test scores for Student and Temporary Graduate visas
  • The introduction of a new Genuine Student test for all international students
  • Reducing the maximum age for Temporary Graduate visas from 50 to 35, at the time of application
  • Reducing the length of Temporary Graduate visas
  • The abolishment of the subclass 476 visa

Next Steps

These implemented and intended changes are substantial. It is important that prospective migrants and employers understand these changes.

Our migration team can assist you with any queries and applications you have. Please contact us for tailored advice and assistance at 03 6210 0090 or .