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Federal Budget 2024-2025

The Federal Budget for 2024-2025 was handed down on Tuesday 14 May 2024. As part of the Budget, the Albanese Government announced a number of changes to Australia’s immigration framework and strategy. These will be discussed below.

Migration Planning Levels

The permanent migration program will see a decrease from 190,000 this financial year, to 185,000 in 2024-25. Of the 185,000, approximately 70 percent or 132,200 will be allocated to the Skilled Stream to ‘help address Australia’s long-term skill needs’. The Albanese Government will also invest over $18 million to ‘further reform’ the immigration system with the goal of ‘restoring its integrity’. From 2025-26, the Government will maintain 70 percent of the places for the Skilled stream to address Australia’s ongoing skilled shortage.

The Budget revealed that the Government will reduce net overseas migration by approximately 110,000 people, dropping from an estimated 375,000 people in 2023-24 to 260,000 in 2024-25. Net overseas migration for 2024-25 will be less than half compared with the 2022-23 levels of 528,000.

Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa

The Government announced a reduction in the requirements for the TSS visa (subclass 482). Currently, applicants are required to hold two years of full-time work experience in the relevant areas before they are eligible to be sponsored for a skilled position by an employer. From 23 November 2024, the two-year requirement will be reduced to one year.

Business Innovation and Investment Visa Program, and Global Talent Visa

Both the Business Innovation and Investment Visa Program (BIIP), and the Global Talent visa (subclass 858) will be discontinued.

The BIIP includes five streams- business innovation, investor, significant investor, entrepreneur, and extension. The termination of this visa program is in line with the significant decline in places offered, with only 1,900 people receiving visas under the program for the 2023-24 financial year.

The Global Talent visa will be replaced by a new National Innovation visa from late 2024. The new visa will target ‘exceptionally talented migrants who will drive growth in sectors of national importance’. $1.4 million has been allocated for this transition.

Chinese, Vietnamese and Indian Visa Applicants

A new ballot program will be introduced in the 2024-25 financial year for applicants from China, Vietnam and India. This ballot will be $25.00 and will help to manage visa processing times and demand.

As part of the Australia-India Migration and Mobility Partnership Arrangement (MMPA), business Visitor visa (subclass 600) holders who are Indian nationals will enjoy an extension of their stay from three years to five years.

For young professionals who are Indian nationals, a new Mobility Arrangements for Talented Early-Professionals Scheme (MATES), which forms part of the MMPA, will be introduced from 1 November 2024. This will benefit 3,000 Indian graduates and early career professionals (18 to 30 years at the time of application), with knowledge and skills in targeted fields of study. Visa holders will be able to live and work in Australia for up to 2 years. Those seeking to apply will need to pay $25.00 to enter a ballot, and $365.00 if they are successful.

To deepen Australia’s engagement and strengthen its relationship with Southeast Asia, the budget also allocated $505.9 million. This amount will be used to improve visa access and extend the validity of business and frequent traveller visas for ASEAN countries and Timor- Leste, with $1.1 over two years from 2023-24.

Employer Compliance

In the Budget, the Government continues its focus on employer compliance and addressing exploitation of employees, with a total allocation of $18.3 million. $15 million over the next three years was announced for implementing initiatives that provide information and education to migrant workers relating to workplace protections and compliance with migration regulations. $1.9 million has been allocated for the 2024-25 year to support a pilot program. This program will involve data-sharing between the Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Tax Office. The program will be used to cross-reference income and employment data, with the aim of preventing exploitation of migrant workers.

The Administrative Review Tribunal

The Government has allocated $1 billion over the next five years to establish the Administrative Review Tribunal. This will replace the current Administrative Appeals Tribunal, and is being introduced to address court backlogs caused by the significant number of applications for judicial review of migration and asylum decisions.

Additional Spending

The Leaving Violence Program, which is aimed at supporting victims of domestic and family violence, has been extended and expanded to temporary visa holders. $925.2 million has been allocated over five years, which will go towards financial support, safety assessments and referrals to support pathways.

The Government has allocated $1.8 billion over the next three years to fund more service delivery staff. This is to address the impacts of under-resourcing, reducing backlogs and wait times, as well as improve visa processing capabilities. The Government established the National Cyber Security Coordinator, which is aimed at strengthening management and recovery from major cyber incidents. Additional allocations made for the Counter Foreign Interference Taskforce is aimed at supporting work that disrupts foreign interference and espionage threats to Australians.

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