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In response to the deepening skills shortage and a massive visa backlog the first Albanese Government budget highlighted a number of immigration reforms. Many of these changes are already underway, for instance the number of unprocessed visas is down from almost 1 million before the federal election to nearly 600,000 now.

Sweeping system review

Two weeks ago the Federal government announced it would undertake a comprehensive review into Australia’s overly complex immigration visa system, with the aim of simplifying it.

As reported in the Australian Financial Review, former public service chief Martin Parkinson (one of three people leading the review) said, “when you’ve got 100 visa subclasses, it’s pretty hard to see what the strategic rationale was.”

Visa reforms

Changes announced (or already implemented) include:

  • The introduction of 195,000 permanent migration places (up from 160,000).
  • An additional $42.2 million fund to accelerate visa processing.
  • 300 additional staff at the Department of Home Affairs to clear the extreme and perpetuating backlog.
  • Priority processing of offshore skilled migrants.
  • The relaxation of work restrictions for student visa holders to continue until the 30 June 2023.

What are the takeaways?

Increasing skilled migration will help to improve the current skills shortage many businesses have been struggling with. These changes are also future focussed, Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil has said, “I want to emphasise that one of Labor’s priorities is to move away from the focus on short-term migrants, toward permanency, citizenship and nation building.”

Australia will increasingly be an attractive commercial and lifestyle destination. As O’Neil states “shifting our migration system away from a guest worker economy will enable Australia to be competitive in the global race for talent. From software analysts to chefs, Australia will once again be attractive to prospective workers.”