Australia Federal Budget 2020-21: What it Means for the Immigration Sector

The Australian Federal Budget 2020-21 was recently announced, and it is being called the ‘most important budget since World War II’. The Budget, says the Government will aim at rebuilding the country’s economy.

This Budget assumes greater importance given the backdrop of COVID-19, which has adversely affected Australia’s Migration Program and International Student enrolments as well.

The 2020-21 Federal Budget contains the following announcements and information related to the Department of Home Affairs and the migration program.

The Budget papers predict net overseas migration will be -71,200 less than the 154,000 persons in 2019-20, but is expected to gradually increase to around 201,000 in 2023-24.

Source: Migration Institute of Australia

Migration Program levels

The current Migration Program Planning level will remain at 160,000 for the 2020-21 program year, however, the distribution of places will change with an increase from 47,732 to 77,300 for Family stream places for this program year only.

Employer Sponsored Visa, Global Talent Program, Business Innovation and Investment Program visas will be prioritised within the Skilled Stream.

Onshore visa applicants and Partner visa applicants where the relevant sponsor resides in a designated regional area, will be prioritised for the 2020-21 Migration Program.

Visa refunds and waivers

Prospective marriage visa (PMV) holders will be able to access a VAC refund (this is in line with information that the Department is not extending the entry date for PMV holders and moving to cancel the visas of those offshore)

Pacific Labour Scheme and Seasonal Worker Programme visa holders will be able to access a VAC refund.

Temporary skilled workers and visitor visa holders will be eligible to have the VAC for a subsequent visa application waived, to allow them to return to Australia once travel restrictions are lifted.

Working holiday makers will be eligible to have the VAC for a subsequent visa application waived, to allow them to return to Australia once travel restrictions are lifted or otherwise be able to access a VAC refund.

VAC refunds and waivers will be available to current visa holders who are unable to travel until the border reopens.

Permanent migration

New Zealand Pathway to permanent residency - the income eligibility requirement for the New Zealand stream of the Skilled Independent (subclass 189) visa. Eligibility for the Pathway will be extended to Special Category (subclass 444) visa holders who have a taxable income at or above the Temporary Skilled Migrant Income Threshold for at least three of the last five income years, including the most recent year.

Business, Investment and Innovation Program

The Government will introduce changes to improve the quality of investments and applicants.

The program will focus on higher value investors, business owners and entrepreneurs and improve the economic outcomes of the BIIP.

Visa application charges for BIIP visas will also be increased by an additional 11.3% (above regular CPI indexation) on 1 July 2021.

Places in this program will be increased to 13,500.

Source: Migration Institute of Australia

Global Talent Independent program

Places in the GTI program will be tripled to 15,000.

Global Business and Talent Attraction Taskforce

A new whole-of-government Global Business and Talent Attraction Taskforce will be established to attract international businesses and exceptional talent to Australia, to support the post- COVID recovery and boost local jobs.

This initiative builds on the existing Global Talent Initiative and Business Innovation and Investment Program and the new initiative announced by the Prime Minister on 9 July 2020 to attract export-orientated Hong Kong-based businesses to Australia.

The goal is to boost local employment levels and aid quick post-COVID recovery.

Family stream Program

Partner visas - the mandatory family sponsorship provisions for Partner visas will be implemented, requiring character checks and sharing of personal information with the applicant, and enforceable sponsorship obligations. 72,300 of the 77,300 places in the family stream will be allocated to partner applicants.

English language requirements will be introduced for Partner visa applicants and the sponsor, to enhance social cohesion and economic participation outcomes.

Source: Migration Institute of Australia

Further reforms as per the Acting Minister’s announcement of 28 August that the 510-hour cap on class hours and time limits on the free English language tuition available under the Adult Migration English Program has been removed.

Humanitarian stream

Humanitarian Program ceiling will be set at 13,750 places, with a flexible mix of places between offshore and onshore categories in response to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Partner Visa Australia applicants and their sponsors will have to comply with English Language requirements. The Australian Government’s goal behind doing this is to boost social bonds and also improve economic participation.

Conclusion

A few strong themes are emerging from the updates.

While it is still possible to apply for an Australian visa currently, both onshore and offshore, the Government is prioritising processing for onshore applicants.

Those applicants who are overseas right can explore their Travel Exemption options.

How should overseas visa applicants use their time now? Our Registered Migration Agents for Australia recommend utilising this time to prepare to meet requirements. Doing this will put them in an advantageous position once the border re-open.

Applicants for Partner and Family Visa can use this time to understand how the updates under the Federal Budget impact their respective applications and prepare accordingly.

At Aussizz Group, our Immigration Experts are considering the Budget and its impact on Australia immigration in the times to come. For personalised advice on how to navigate through these changes, feel free to consult with them.

Get in touch with us now!
(The report is based on the statistics released by the Migration Institute of Australia)
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