Update – February 23, 2023: The Australian Government recently unveiled two significant adjustments affecting individuals on Student (subclass 500) visas and Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visas. Commencing on July 1, 2023, student visa holders will have the opportunity to engage in employment for up to 48 hours per fortnight, while international graduates holding eligible qualifications will enjoy an additional two years of post-study work rights on their Temporary Graduate visas.
Abul Rizvi, the former Secretary of the Department of Immigration, has indicated a significant rise in the number of visas offered by states and territories, largely attributed to the expanded regional allocation. The subclass 190 and subclass 491 visas, commonly known as Australian state-sponsored visas, offer a notable advantage by not requiring applicants to be tied to a specific employer. However, candidates must be under the age of 45 and are responsible for securing their own employment.
Additionally, states and territories have been easing their application criteria, which includes expanding their lists of eligible skilled occupations, simplifying the process for individuals applying for state-nominated visas. For more detailed information on the requirements for state and territory nomination, you can refer to the Department of Home Affairs website.
Review of migration system to be delivered
As reported by SBS News, a comprehensive review of Australia’s migration system is anticipated in 2023, with three experts slated to present an interim report by the end of February and a final strategy by April.
In addressing the substantial visa backlog, which previously stood at nearly one million applications, the government has taken steps to expedite processing by hiring additional staff. Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, Andrew Giles, announced on Monday that with the infusion of over 400 extra staff and heightened processing efforts in the Department of Home Affairs, more than four million visas have been processed since the government took office.
Furthermore, The Guardian notes that the acceleration in processing is particularly noticeable in the case of Working Holiday Maker (WHM) visas (subclasses 417 and 462), which are currently being processed and approved within a single day.
Demand-driven partner and child visas
The introduction of demand-driven partner visas is set to facilitate easier family reunification, as there is no longer a restriction on the quantity of these visas granted. The department anticipates issuing approximately 40,500 partner visas in the current financial year. Similarly, child visas operate on a demand-driven basis, with an estimated issuance of around 3,000 visas.
New rules for skilled visa applications to be prioritised
The Australian Government is altering the prioritization of skilled visa applications by placing healthcare and education professionals at the forefront. As reported by SBS News, the Department of Home Affairs has ceased the utilization of its Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL) for ranking skilled visa applications.
- Healthcare or teaching occupation applications;
- For employer-sponsored visas, applicants nominated by an Approved sponsor with Accredited Status;
- Those for a designated regional area;
- For permanent and provisional visa subclasses, visa applications that count towards the migration program, excluding the subclass 188 Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) visa;
- All other visa applications.
For all categories, priority will be given to those with eligible passports. Within each separate category, priority is given to applicants located outside Australia for provisional and permanent skilled visa applications
New visa for Pacific countries and Timor-Leste
Come July 2023, a fresh visa will be launched, offering 3,000 openings for qualified migrants hailing from Pacific nations and Timor-Leste. The allocation of Pacific Engagement visas (PEV) will be determined annually through a ballot process, supplementing the spaces already designated within Australia’s permanent migration program. Detailed information about the visa will be accessible on the Department of Home Affairs website before its implementation.
Priority processing for New Zealanders
Residents of New Zealand residing in Australia will experience expedited processing of subclass 189 Skilled Independent visa applications through the New Zealand stream. The department has eliminated specific visa prerequisites, including the previous requirements of a minimum five-year residency in Australia, meeting specific taxable income thresholds, and fulfilling health criteria.
Beginning from December 10, 2022, until July 1, 2023, the department has ceased accepting new visa applications to focus on clearing the existing backlog in the system.
Furthermore, individuals granted a visa through the New Zealand stream will see an accelerated pathway to citizenship, effective from January 1, 2023.