Changes to Australian Visas – Beginning July 2019

Significant changes to Australian immigration policies have recently been rolled out. The permanent intake threshold was cut and further drastic alterations were made. These changes begin effecting people of Australia this year.

Lowering of Immigration Threshold

As of March 2019, the Australian government announced that it is reducing the permanent immigration cap to 160,000 people. This number represents the annual number of people allowed to pursue permanent status in Australia. For the period of 2011 to 2017 the threshold allowed for an additional 30,000 people. The number began to drop in 2017 and has now reached a record low.

The reduction is seen by people issued Skilled Independent visas. The protocol of these visas affords people the chance to reside and gain employment anywhere within Australian borders. The number of these visas issued has been reduced by 25,000. According to the Australian government, the new threshold will remain unaltered for the upcoming four years.

Regional Visa Changes

While working within the threshold of the 160,000 annual visas, the government has effected changes to regional visa processes. This type of visa is specific to those individuals who plan to reside and gain employment in specific regions. Of the total number of annual visas issued, 23,000 are to be regional visas.

Those who receive these visas, taking effect in November 2019, will need to stay in the noted region for three years in order to be eligible for permanent residency. Originally, only two years of residence were required. The government has announced that, as of 2022, there will be a new regional permanent visa.

As for students studying under international parameters, there will be the option to gain access to an extra year on their visa, called a post-study visa. This is provided that these students accessed education outside of key zones such as Sydney, Perth, and Melbourne.

Specific nomenclature for the new visas include the Skilled Work regional visa, a class that will receive 14,000 visas. Another visa class is the Skilled Employer Sponsored Visa which will receive 9,000 placements.

Visa Procedures Affecting Parents of Residents

As of 2018, changes promised pursuant to the 2016 federal electoral race were effected, as relating to visas for parents. Called the Temporary Sponsored Parent visa, the applications commenced on July 1, 2019. Annually, the threshold for these visas is 15,000.

In effect, this impacts sponsorship procedures. Permanent residents of Australia, or citizens thereof, apply to be sponsors. Upon approval, their parents are able to pursue an application for a separate visa. Given acceptance of the parents’ visas, the aforementioned parents will be able to reside in Australia for up to five years. There is only one chance for renewal in these situations.

Skilled Migration and Point Changes

Of those covered under the terms of regional visas, the new policies afford the opportunity to gain an extra five points on their test. In addition to those covered by the visa itself, further opportunities to gain extra points are issued to those working in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The additional ten points for which those within the STEM sector are eligible extend to those with a spouse working or studying in these fields.

Changes Foregone by Australian Government

In addition to the changes effected by the government, certain slated alterations to policies and procedures have been foregone. Of these abandoned changes is the discussed increase to waiting periods for applicants pending proof of English language proficiency.

A lack of traction and distinct opposition from both the Green and Labor parties caused the government to abandon the linguistically related changes to immigration procedures. Currently, language requirements for English proficiency are noted as moderate.