What does Australia’s Immigration program look like in 2021?

There is no doubt immigration plays a vital role in Australia’s economic plan in normal times. I believe it will be even more important in a post COVID-19 world which we are all hoping for in 2021.

The Federal government and the State and Territories have always focused on attracting skilled and business migrants to investment in Australia. It will be even more important as we emerge from the effects of COVID-19.

The 2020/2021 Federal Budget confirmed Australia’s objective was to prioritise the attraction of the “best and brightest migrants from around the world” through the Global Talent Independent program. It also clearly set out it wanted to increase business investments through the Business Innovation and Investment Program (BIIP).

It is predicted net overseas migration will be 71,200 less than the 154,000 people in 2019/20. In subsequent years it is envisaged it will increase to around 201,000 in 2023/24.

The 2020/21 year will represent the lowest population growth for over 100 years through our migration program.

We are all hoping that the recovery of Australia’s economy and re-opening of borders will see migration numbers increase.

The current plan will remain at 160,000 for the 2020/21 fiscal 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.

The breakdown of the numbers for the Skilled Streams are:

  • Employer Sponsored (subclass 482 and 186) – 22,000
  • Skilled Independent (subclass 189) – 6,500
  • Regional (subclass 494) – 11,200
  • State/Territory Nominated (subclass 190 and 491) – 11,200
  • Business Innovation & Investment program – 13,500
  • Global Talent – 15,000
  • Distinguished Talent – 200

The breakdown of the numbers for the Family Streams are:

  • Partner – 72,300
  • Parent – 4,500
  • Other family – 500

The main messages from the above numbers and the Federal Governments commentary is relating to the skilled and business stream is that:

  • The Employer Sponsored, Global Talent, Business Innovation and Investment Program visas will be prioritised within the Skilled Stream.  Changes will be introduced 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 programme
  • The Global Talen Independent (GTI) programme will be tripled to 15,000. A Global Business and Talent Attraction Task Force will be established to attract international businesses and exceptional talent to Australia. It will aim to support the post-COVID recovery and boost local jobs

In the Family Stream 72,300 of the 77,300 places will be allocated to partner applicants. However, it is suspected that this increase is to deal with the backlog of partner visa applications lodged in previous years and won’t account for new partner visa applications. Priority will be given to partner visa applicants who are onshore.

Mandatory family sponsorship provisions will be implemented, requiring character checks and sharing of personal information with the applicant, and enforceable sponsorship obligations.

This will mean that an applicant’s Australian spouse or de facto partner must be approved before they can lodge a partner visa application, which is a significant change in the process and will no doubt lead to significant submissions in many cases. Additionally, there will be the introduction of English language competency for Partner visa applicants and the sponsor.

A pleasing outcome was that the eligibility for the Pathway to the Skilled Independent Subclass 189 (New Zealand Stream) will be extended include Special Category (subclass 444) visa holders. These visa holders must have a taxable income at or above the Temporary Skilled Migrant Income Threshold (TSMIT – currently at $53,900) for at least three of the last five income years, including the most recent financial year. Previously it was for a full five years.

At FC Lawyers we have an expert team when it comes to processing and supporting visas. If you have any questions regarding your migration or Australia’s immigration program, please contact our team today.

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