Australia’s Labour Government said its current migration system is “broken” and it wants to cut its migrant intake “in half” over the next two years.
Canberra is hoping that by tightening visa requirements for international students and low-skilled workers, it could significantly reduce migration to the country.
Australia intends to reduce the yearly intake of migrants to 250,000 by June 2025. That number is similar to that before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Its net overseas migration – the net gain or loss of population through immigration to Australia and emigration from there – is expected to have hit a record 500,000 in the year to September.
Over the weekend of December 9-10, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese stated that Australia’s migration levels must be reduced to a “sustainable level,” adding that “the system is broken”.
“People are coming here, enrolling in courses that don’t really add substantially to either their skills base or to the national interest here,” Albanese said.
The Liberal opposition said the high numbers were a predictable result of “an arrogant” Government.
Canberra had pushed for more migration to expand the workforce after the pandemic while at the same time a high number of foreign students also arrived in the country.
Despite the Australian migration model often being lauded as a blueprint by many in Europe, arrival figures have reached record levels, putting additional strain on housing and infrastructure.
Skilled professionals, meanwhile, continue to be in short supply and difficult to attract.
“We’ve worked around the clock to strike the best balance in Australia’s migration system,” home affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said on December 11.
“The Government’s targeted reforms are already putting downward pressure on net overseas migration and will further contribute to this expected decline.”
Our migration system makes it hard for a skilled permanent migrant to come to Australia.
But it's far too easy to use side doors and back doors of the system to come as a temporary, lower-paid migrant who are vulnerable to exploitation.
Our Migration Strategy is fixing this. pic.twitter.com/cM57mk3WSP
— Clare O'Neil MP (@ClareONeilMP) December 12, 2023
Australia will not limit the number of foreign students but will make higher demands on who will be eligible to come. New criteria are to be introduced, such as tougher English test score requirements. It will also eliminate options that allow students to extend their stays in Australia.
A new specialist visa for highly talented workers will be established, with processing time reduced to one week. That is designed to assist businesses in recruiting more skilled migrants in the face of severe competition from other developed nations.
The Cabinet has already approved the new migration policy, which follows months of engagement with the higher education sector, business groups and other stakeholders.
The minimum salary requirement to secure the necessary visa of $70,000 per year (around 42,000 euros), known as the temporary skilled migration income level, will now be increased annually.
The Government said the visa would be reformed so that successful applicants match “core” talents that are actually needed in Australia.
51% of international student university graduates still in Australia after 3 years are working in Level 4-5 jobs.
These jobs are:
Level 4 – Bar staff, waiters etc
Level 5 – Cleaners, couriers etc
A sad indictment of our Uni sector.https://t.co/KJaMICvfut
— Tarric Brooker aka Avid Commentator 🇦🇺 (@AvidCommentator) December 11, 2023