The 2020-21 Federal Government Budget – What Does It Mean For Australian Immigration?
The Australian Federal Government made some important announcements this week in the highly anticipated 2020-21 Federal Budget. In contrast to previous years, quite an extensive focus has been on immigration policy and some important changes have been made to the way Australian immigration will operate in the coming years.
Overall, the Government has indicated that overseas migration is likely to decrease in the next year by more than 70,000 prospective migrants. However, this is forecast to eventually increase to an intake of around 201,000 in 2023-24.
Australian Visa Prioritization Of Regional Partner Visa Applications And New Requirements
In response to the barriers that border closures have built around family members locked out of Australia, the Government has indicated that in the next year they intend to prioritise migration for those applying in the family stream. 72,300 of the 77,300 places designated to migrants in the family stream will be directly allocated to partner applicants. Interestingly, the Government has indicated that it intends to specifically prioritise visa applications where the relevant sponsor lives in a designated regional area in Australia. In addition to these changes, the family sponsorship provisions will be strengthened to require character checks and the sharing of the sponsor’s personal information to the applicant, as well as enforceable sponsorship obligations. An English language requirement will also be introduced for both the applicant and sponsor of partner visa applications. These changes are in line with the new emphasis on Australian culture and values, aimed at enhancing social cohesion and economic participation of migrants.
Potential Refunds For Applicants Effected By Border Closures
With the limited capacity for migrants to travel to Australia with the existing restricted travel exemption process, the Government has also announced that some visa holders may be able to access refunds for their applications where their ability to enter Australia has been effected by the national lockdown. Prospective marriage visa holders, pacific labour scheme and seasonal worker program visa holders, temporary skilled workers and visitors, and working holiday makers, are among those who may be eligible for a refund.
Migration To Australia: Prioritisation Of Skilled Migrant Workers In Relevant Sectors
It is no surprise that further to these changes, the Government will continue to prioritise skilled migrant workers relevant to rebuilding Australia, and to the continued battle against the covid-19 pandemic. This follows the recent reopening of BSMQ for prospective skilled applicants.
In addition to this, a new taskforce will be established aimed at attracting international business and exceptional talent to Australia. This is intended to build on the existing Global Talent Initiative and Business Innovation and Investment Program to support the economic recovery of Australia and expand job opportunities for Australians. This correlates with the decision to triple the intake of migrants in the Global Talent Independent visa program to 15,000.
Upcoming Immigration Changes: Changes To New Zealand Skilled Independent Visa Income Requirements
Other important changes include the alteration of the income eligibility requirement for the New Zealand stream of Skilled Independent (Subclass 189) visas. Eligibility of this visa will be extended to those who hold Special Category (Subclass 444) visas with a taxable income equal or above the required threshold of $53,990 for at least three out of the last five years, including the most recent financial year.
Australian Immigration News: Increased Funding To The Humanitarian Program
As for the humanitarian program, the ceiling will be capped at 13,750 places, and the Immigration Assessment Authority will receive $7.6 million in funding to more effectively manage the intake of onshore and offshore applicants. The Government has also announced $55.6 million of funding will be directed at Christmas Island reactivation to accommodate unlawful non-citizens unable to be deported due to international border closures. Following on from this, the Government has identified that the Community Sponsorship Program will be reformed. However, they are yet to provide details on what these changes will mean for community sponsorship.
The Government has also committed $62.8 million over the next five years directed at the promotion of Australian values, identity and social cohesion. This includes the establishment of a research program aimed at informing initiatives to help strengthen social cohesion of prospective visa holders in the humanitarian stream.
The Government has also introduced the National Action Plan to Combat Modern Slavery 2020-25. For this, the Government has committed $10.6 million to be provided over the next five years for the provision of grants to deliver community-based projects aimed at preventing modern slavery.
Migration News: Additional Funding To Courts
The Federal Law Circuit Court will also receive $35.7 million over the next four years to provide additional resources and judges to deal with the resolution of migration matters.
What Do These Changes Mean For The Future Of Australian Immigration?
The additional funding to several important areas involved in the immigration process is a welcome reprieve from what has for decades been an oversaturated industry. However, while many migrants will benefit from these changes, those who notably missed out were applicants living in metropolitan areas, and offshore applicants.
While these announcements are only provisional, the implementation of policy and legislation to clarify how these changes will come into effect are highly anticipated. The changes identify the Federal Government’s clear focus on Australian values and social cohesion, as well as economic participation of migrants. It also demonstrates the Federal Government’s push for the creation of more jobs, and reflects their focus on industries and skillsets which are particularly important for the recovery of the Australian economy following on from the downfall caused by the covid-19 pandemic.
You can access the full 2020 Federal Budget here: https://budget.gov.au/index.htm
For the media release from Minister Dutton and Acting Minister Tudge, go here:
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