COVID-19 has caused a lot of disruption in Australia’s immigration and we have been waiting for the release of the Federal Budget 2020-21 to get some clarity and be able to plan for the future.
Overall Planning Levels
The government will maintain the planning level for 160,000 places this financial year, however the distribution of those places will change.
– Family stream places for this year will increase from 47,732 to 77,300 with 72,300 of those being allocated to partner visas;
– Business Investment and Innovation Program (BIIP) places have increased to 13,500 places;
– Global Talent Independent program places have tripled to 15,000;
The goal is to maintain 1/3 family and 2/3 skilled planning levels.
Partner Visa Changes
English language requirements will be introduced for Partner visa applicants AND the sponsor to enhance social cohesion and economic participation outcomes.
Sponsorship provisions will be implemented requiring character checks, sharing of personal information and enforceable sponsorship obligations.
Onshore applicants with sponsors in designated regional areas will be prioritised.
Business Investment and Innovation Program (BIIP)
The Government will introduce changes 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 BIIP. Visa application charges for BIIP visas will also be increased by an additional 11.3% (above regular CPI indexation) on 1 July 2021.
Global Talent Independent program
A new whole-of-government Global Business and Talent Attraction Taskforce will be established to attract international businesses and exceptional talent to Australia, to support the post-COVID recovery and boost local jobs.
This initiative builds on the existing Global Talent Initiative and Business Innovation and Investment Program and the new initiative announced by the Prime Minister on 9 July 2020 to attract export-orientated Hong Kong-based businesses to Australia.
Pathways for New Zealand citizens
The income eligibility requirement for NZ stream of the Skilled Independent subclass 189 visa will be extended to subclass 444 visa holders who have eligible taxable income at or above the Temporary Skilled Migrant Income Threshold for at least three of the five income years, including the most recent year. The government plan to promote uptake of this pathway to eligible NZ citizens.
COVID-19 Related Refunds
Certain visa holders can access a Visa Application Charge (VAC) refund, e.g. Prospective Marriage, Pacific Labour Scheme and Seasonal Workers . Temporary skilled workers and Visitor Visa holders can have the VAC for a subsequent visa waived once travel restrictions are lifted.
At this stage it appears there is no increase in the VAC, except BIIP. A new Skilled Occupations List is expected for March 2021. The Budget did not address programs such as Student Visas or State Nominated Visas.