Australian Immigration News: Latest Updates and Policy Changes

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Staying informed of the latest developments in the migration industry might just make the difference in a successful visa application. Here’s the latest Australian immigration news today!

Latest Immigration News Australia

A new and improved ‘Skills in Demand’ visa is in the works.

There will be a new ‘Skills in Demand’ visa that’s set to replace the current subclass 482 Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa, and it’s a very promising initiative.

Set to grant a stay up to 4 years in Australia, this visa allows holders to switch employers. In line with this, they will:

  • Have a longer 180-day period to find a new sponsor (up from 60 days)
  • Be able to work during this transition period.
  • Have access to a public register of sponsors to make it easier to find a new sponsor

This visa will also have a much clearer pathway to permanent residency and will potentially introduce a self-nominated independent option through an improved points test. On top of that, time spent working with approved employers contributes to eligibility for permanent residence.

This visa will have three pathways:

  • Specialist Skills Pathway: The stream is designed for highly skilled migrants (excluding trades workers, machinery operators, drivers, and labourers). It focuses on individual firm needs to address specialist knowledge and expertise. The government will push for a quick 7-day median processing time for this stream.
  • Core Skills Pathway: This stream aims to attract skilled workers in identified shortage occupations outlined in a new Core Skills Occupation List.
  • Essential Skills Pathway: This stream includes specific arrangements for certain sectors, with capped arrangements and stronger rules and standards, following guidance from Jobs and Skills Australia.

The Skills in Demand visa is designed to overcome challenges that skilled migrants face when coming to Australia. It offers a clearer path to permanent residency and implements new regulations to protect migrant workers (particularly in lower-paid sectors) from exploitation.

The majority of the changes will take effect in late 2024. However, actions to address the issue have already been underway since July 2023 as part of the Migration Strategy – Action Plan.

Stricter rules for SC500 student visa application to start the new year

As part of Australia’s migration strategy, stricter adjustments are in the works to detect and reject ‘non-genuine’ applicants for the student visa subclass 500.

The government has also placed initiatives to identify and investigate ‘high-risk’ education institutions that promote these non-genuine applicants and harm Australia’s reputation in the international education sector.

Changes to English language requirements

Starting in early 2024, there will be an increase in English language requirements for both student and temporary graduate visas. This includes:

  • raising the IELTS test (or equivalent) score required for:
    • a Temporary Graduate visa, from 6.0 to 6.5
    • a Student visa, from 5.5 to 6.0
      • For those taking an English Language Intensive Course for Overseas Students (ELICOS), from 4.5 to 5.0
  • setting the IELTS test (or equivalent) score of 5.5 for students undertaking university foundation or pathway programs

New ‘Genuine Student Test’ for international students

The Genuine Student Test will replace the Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) requirement. This new and improved test is designed to promote genuine student visa applications and discourage those primarily seeking work instead of studying.

As part of this initiative, eligible applicants inside Australia will need to provide strong proof that their next course aligns with their academic goals or career and will complement their degree or field of expertise.

Hopefully, this will prevent students from course- or visa-hopping, both of which are attempts to stay in Australia longer, especially when there are fewer chances of becoming permanent residents.

Visa processing priority based on education provider ‘risk-level’

Apart from individual student applications, immigration officers will also examine an education provider’s ‘risk level’.

The goal of this new framework is to identify high-risk providers that engage in unethical strategies, such as admitting unqualified students or providing low education standards—all of which encourage non-genuine student visa applicants.

As a result, higher-risk providers will experience a slower processing time.

Different factors, like visa cancellations, refusals, and overstays, will determine the institution’s risk levels.

Previous Temporary Graduate visa extensions withdrawn

Very soon, extensions for the post-study work stream of the Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485 Visa) will no longer be available, except for study in a regional area, which may receive a 1-2 year extension.

Additionally, initial durations for Subclass 485 Visa will be shortened, as follows:

  • 2 years for Bachelor Degree
  • 2 years Masters by coursework
  • 3 years for Masters by research
  • 3 years for PhD

Other changes include the following:

  • The maximum eligible age for a temporary graduate visa will be reduced to 35. This gives applicants a better opportunity to apply for permanent residency, which has a cut-off age of 45.
  • Current temporary graduate visa streams will be renamed (post-higher education work stream and post-vocational education work stream) to avoid confusion among applicants. The replacement stream will be removed.
  • There will be a better opportunity for TGV holders to transition to a skilled visa via the new Skills in Demand visa, offering more opportunities for permanent residency.

These changes aim to reduce ‘permanently temporary’ migrants in the study path who are extending their stay in Australia without a clear plan or working in low-skilled jobs that won’t help them achieve permanent residency.

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Philippines set to join the Working Holiday Maker (WHM) Program

Good news to Filipinos, as they can soon apply for the Work and Holiday visa (Subclass 462). This visa allows them to visit Australia, extend their stay for up to 12 months, and have the work rights to help fund their entire stay.

There will be a cap on the number of applications granted, although the number of allocations for the Philippines is yet to be disclosed.

Covid Visa program comes to an end

Starting February 1, 2024, the COVID-19 pandemic event visa will no longer be open for new applications. This decision is part of the government’s strategy to ensure the integrity of the visa system.

If you currently hold the COVID-19 Pandemic Event Visa, you may apply for an extension within the period from September 2, 2023, to January 31, 2024.

However, if you hold another type of visa, you will no longer be eligible for an extension. You must either look for alternative visa options if you want to continue staying in Australia or make arrangements for departure.

Immigration news Australia: 2023 Highlights

485 Visa Extension: Recent Updates and How to Apply

Exciting news for Australian university graduates! Thanks to the recent 485 visa extension, international students like you can now stay in Australia for an extra 2 years, giving you more time to gain valuable study or hands-on work experience! READ MORE…

189 Invitation Round (SkillSelect)

The Skilled Independent 189 visa applies to invited workers and New Zealand citizens with skills Australia needs. See the number of invitations given during the SkillSelect invitation round on May 25, 2023, for the 189 visa. READ MORE…

Skilled Occupation List Australia

The Skilled Occupation List (SOL) is a compilation of Australian professions that allow individuals to apply for skilled migration into the country. By referring to the SOL, you’ll be able to align your skills and ambitions with potential employment prospects in Australia. READ MORE…

Stay updated, avoid visa application setbacks

Visa requirements can change suddenly, and missing them can be a real headache—unexpected delays and, worse, an unsuccessful visa application.

KBA Global is your trusted partner when it comes to the latest buzz in Australian immigration. With years of experience in the ever-changing industry, we’ll make sure you’re on top of any migration news and help you sort out your visa application accordingly.

Start your visa application today. Book a free consultation.

Disclaimer: The above information is a general guide and not professional immigration advice. Be aware that immigration laws and regulations can change swiftly, potentially rendering some or all of the information outdated. Thus, before using the information above, we recommend checking the current laws through assistance from a migration agent or the Department of Home Affairs website.