Australian Federal Budget and Migration Update: What it means for Migrants?


On 11 May 2021, Treasurer Joshua Frydenberg delivered the 2021-2022 Federal Budget which revealed several items of note for Australian migrants and the overall planning level of the Migration Program for the upcoming financial year. While the results of the budget were not completely unexpected, there are certain upcoming changes that are worth mentioning and which may be relevant to migrants.


We summarise below the main outcomes of the budget that you need to know.


What did the Federal Budget 2021 – 2022 say about Immigration?


Adopting a more conservative approach, the government will maintain the 2021-2022 Migration Program planning level at 160,000 places. The government is cautious to increase this number due to the unpredictable trajectory of Covid-19 and the deployment of the vaccine. This planning level will operate as a ceiling and not a target, meaning there is a limited number of allocations available to visa holders.


Of the 160,000 places, 79,600 will be allocated for skilled visas and 77,300 will be allocated for family visas.


Skilled Visas


The skilled stream will take a more flexible approach, allowing the Minister to redistribute across the stream in response to changing health, border and economic conditions.

Within the skilled stream, priority was given to visa classes that incite economic growth and investment in Australia.


These include:

  • the Business and Innovation and Investment Program;
  • the Global Talent Program; and
  • the Employer Sponsored Program.


The government has justified a higher allocation to the employer sponsored program based on sponsored skilled migrants demonstrating stronger employment outcomes in the short-term, achieving higher rates of labour force participation within 6 months of settlement. This is to address the country’s immediate economic and labour needs meaning that those applying under the above Programs will be prioritised due to their expected contribution to Australia’s recovery from the pandemic.


Family Visas: Partner Visas and Parent Visas


The Family Program is comprised of mostly partner visas and parent visas, allowing the partner or parent of an Australian citizen or permanent resident to live in Australia, provided that certain requirements are met. The partner visa is the largest category of the Family Program and will assume the majority of the allocated places within this Program.


The government will continue to reduce the overwhelming number of partner visas currently in the backlog and is committed to prioritising onshore applications within the Family Program. The Department of Home Affairs announced their intention to process an increased number of partner visas through the remainder of 2021 and reduce the estimated processing time.


The Child visa category is separate to the Family Program which is demand driven and not subject to a planning ceiling.


Administrative Appeals Tribunal


The government has committed a total of $54.8 million over the next 4 years in efforts to reduce the number of migration and refugee applications with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). The AAT had over 55,000 migration and refugee cases in the backlog as of 30 April 2021, the processing time for each case nearing 2 years due to this large volume.


2021-22 Federal Budget – Updates for Migrants

In Other News


Tourism and Hospitality Industries – Critical Sectors

The work limitation applicable to international students will soon not apply to those working in the tourism and hospitality sector. This means that international students will not be restricted to 40 hours per fortnight if they work within these two industries as they are now considered critical sectors.


This will also allow 408 visa applicants under the Covid-19 substream to be eligible for 12 months as opposed to 3 months, providing skilled applicants with more opportunities to accumulate work experience. Further information on this is yet to be released.


408 COVID Visa

The government has extended the timeframe to apply for the 408 visa under the Covid-19 pandemic event substream from 28 days to 90 days before your current temporary visa expires. Furthermore, the requirement to demonstrate your attempts to depart Australia has been removed if you intend to work within the agricultural sector.


The Budget has revealed some interesting changes to the Australian Migration Program and how the places will be allocated according to the country’s needs. With new changes still yet to arrive, it’s important to plan ahead and anticipate how new amendments may affect your application.


For more information, contact No Borders Law Group and speak with one of our migration lawyers.


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Simply dial 07 3876 4000 or email:[email protected]and let us help you start with your way towards obtaining an Australian visa.


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