As you may or may not be aware, the national budget speech was made last night. It is during this speech that the Morrison government indicates its intentions for immigration in the coming financial year.
The last budget speech, which was delayed due the pandemic, was made in October last year, when the government put a cap on migrants for the year at ceiling of 160,000. In addition, they all but stopped permanent skilled migration for the year, aside from critical skills occupations.
It was also during that speech that it indicated that it would look to increase that ceiling and reignite skilled migration by the next budget speech which was delivered on Tuesday night - something we were all looking forward to.
However, the Morrison government took an extremely cautious approach amidst COVID-induced restrictions, announcing that it will maintain its planned ceiling for the 2021-22 Migration Program at 160,000 places. Thus, not increasing the ceiling at all for now.
The government has also indicated that the international borders will remain closed probably until mid-2022.
The stated planning levels include 79,600 skilled and 77,300 family stream places, a measure that the government says, is “appropriate” for the current health and economic circumstances. The budget document states that the government will prioritise “Employer-Sponsored, Global Talent, Business Innovation and Investment Program visas within the Skilled Stream”.
So, it appears that for now, offshore applicants for 491, 190 and 189 visas will need to remain patient for a while longer given the above announcements. This is no doubt disappointing news for those who are waiting for their visas to be processed or for an invitation.
I am hopeful, however, that a successful vaccine roll-out and considerable reduction of the virus over the coming months will cause a reconsideration of the above.
The positive aspect that did come out of the budget document is that it forecasted that in the coming years the migration ceiling would increase to well over 230,000 applicants per year with a focus on skilled migrants.
The question that begs asking, is what happens now if you are mid process? Do you need to write the English test again? Do you lose points as your age changes? Will your occupation be on the list when the time comes?
As it stands, we really have no information as to what the government intends to do in these circumstances. It is no doubt aware, to some extent at least, how many people have been affected by this - I have personally had clients write directly to the Minister airing their concerns and aggravations.
What I do feel, is that to get their numbers up and to make up for lost time, the government will have to make concessions to make the process more achievable for applicants. In addition to the above, I think they should even consider pushing the age cap back to 50, as it was just a couple of years ago.
But for now, all we can do is remain patient and wait to see how this all unfolds as to what comes next.
Having said that, and as you can see from the budget document, there are some visas which the government is actively pushing in the interim to assist in the post COVID recovery. I have had quite a bit of success with these, especially with the Business Innovation / Investment visa and the Global Talent visas.
In terms of the Business Visa, the requirement is to either have had a successful business in your home country or have a sizeable sum of money to invest into Australia over a period of 4 years.
And in terms of the Global Talent Visa, one needs to have achieved at least a masters degree, and have international recognition in a specified field. This would normally mean international publications and/or peer reviewed articles.
If you feel that either of the above may be an option for you, then please feel free to reach out to us to check your eligibility.
In the meantime, I wish you all health and safety – we are all in this together.