The highly anticipated Australian Federal Budget for 2020-2021 has finally been released and within it, the following information and announcements relating to Australia’s migration program will be of interest to our readers.
Migration Planning Levels
Australia’s net overseas migration is set to fall into negative levels for the first time since World War II with a shortfall of 72,000 people forecast for the year and will not return to positive levels until 2022-2023.
The Morrison Government has cautiously opted to maintained the planned ceiling for the 2020/21 Migration Program at 160,000 places.
The following visas categories will be prioritised:
Employer Sponsored, Global Talent, Business Innovation and Investment Program visas will be prioritised within the Skilled Stream.
Onshore visa applicants and Partner visa applicants where the relevant sponsor resides in a designated regional area, will be prioritised for the 2020-21 Migration Program.
Whilst the overall figure remains steady, allocations within the different visa categories has varied.
Somewhat surprisingly, the government has allocated 77300 places in the family stream, an increase of around 62% from last financial year. Partner visa applicants are set to benefit the most from this increase in allocation as 72300 of the allocations are for partner visas. There is a massive backlog of approximately 100,000 partner visa applications so hopefully a significant portion of the backlog can be cleared by 2021. This will unfortunately mean more delays for parent and child visas.
Whilst onshore partner visas where the sponsor is living in a regional location will be prioritised, English language requirements are flagged to be introduced for both applicants and sponsors to enhance social cohesion and economic participation outcomes. This is a surprise announcement and one that will likely be attracting a high volume of criticism in coming days as many will see this requirement a unhumanitarian and unfair to those applicants who come from non-English speaking backgrounds. Once in place, those partner visa applicants whose sponsors gained PR via the Parent visa or Contributory Parent visa categories will also find enormous difficulty satisfying any English requirements as many will have a very limited level of English and effectively, this cohort of partner visa applicants will be unlikely to utilize this pathway. Whether any exemptions may apply is also unknown.
More details are forthcoming in this regard and we will update our readers as new information are announced.
Business, Investment & Innovation Program
The Government is set to introduce changes to improve the quality of investments and applicants with the program focusing on higher-value investors, business owners, and entrepreneurs and improve the economic outcomes of this visa program.
Visa application fees for BIIP visas will increase by 11.3% on 01 July 2021 and places in this program will be increased to 13,500, up drastically from 7400 in the previous year.
The current processing time for some BIIP applicants has stretched to almost three years, so hopefully, the backlog can be cleared and the new application processing timeframe can be significantly improved.
Global Talent Independent Program
In line with Australia’s strive to attracting the world’s best and brightest migrants and high-income earners at the top of their field to work and live in Australia; the Global Talent Independent Program will be receiving 15,000 allocations this financial year, a steep increase from the previous 5000 places.
A new whole-of-government Global Business and Talent Attraction Taskforce will be established to attract international businesses and exceptional talent to Australia, to support the post- COVID recovery and boost local jobs.
This initiative builds on the existing Global Talent Initiative and Business Innovation and Investment Program and the new initiative announced by the Prime Minister on 9 July 2020 to attract export-orientated Hong Kong-based businesses to Australia.
This program is highly flexible, with no age criteria, no formal skills assessment criteria and applicants who are highly skilled in one of these ‘future-focused’ sectors: ag-tech, med-tech, space, fin-tech, energy and mining technology, cybersecurity, and data science, can demonstrate the potential to earn a salary of at least $153,600 per annum and have their application supported by a nominator of national reputation in the same field should look into this pathway with keen interest.
Contact us now to discuss taking advantage of this program to obtain prioritised permanent residency.
Skilled Migration Program
Skilled Migration visa categories (189, 190, 491, 494, 186) is allocated 82700 places, a big reduction from 108,682 from the previous year. This is unwelcomed news for these cohorts of applicants especially sc189 EOI applicants still waiting for invitations however the political motivation behind this is quite clear as it is right now all about job creation for local Australians.
Whilst interim affects will hurt those waiting for invitations, this will most likely be temporary and we envisage that by next financial year, as Australia looks at further reinvigorating the economy, the focus will push back to providing more options for skilled migrants whose contribution is crucial to Australia’s economic growth.
A joint media release by Minister Dutton and Acting Minister Tudge can be read here.
Whilst there are good and bad news in this budget for visa applicants, we must remember the importance of migration for Australia’s long-term growth and comparative advantage. Australia’s population growth will drop to 0.2% this financial year – the slowest growth in more than a century. Combined with our forecasted fertility rate of just 1.58 for 2021-2022 and an ageing population, Australia will need ways to sustain a desired level of population growth, and our migration program will be the best driver of this. Interim effects of migration changes in this year’s budget may be sorely felt by some, though I am confident that as Australia comes out of the COVID-19 pandemic, measures will be taken to increase our migration intake under a targeted approach.
Please contact us on 03 9981 9559 should you wish to discuss your visa matter. Southern Stone will ensure that you receive thorough, tailored and professional advice to obtain the best outcome for your case.