Australia Needs Migrants for post-COVID Recovery

The hugely anticipated Federal Budget 2020 was released this month and many were relieved to hear that the current Migration Program Planning level will remain at 160,000 for the 2020-21 program year. In fact, focusing on attracting the best and brightest migrants from around the world was described as a key solution to the country’s post-COVID economic recovery plan.

Highly skilled and experienced migrants are in-demand this program year, individuals who are planning to live in Australia to supercharge our economic recovery and create more jobs for Australians. Accordingly, certain visa programs are being favoured over others. Gainers are the global talent program (GTI & GTES), business and investment visas, partner visas and employers-sponsored applicants, all of which will be given precedence over other visa categories. 

What does this exactly mean for potential onshore and offshore applicants? We break down the prioritised visa categories below:

Family Stream & Partner Visas

The distribution of places will change with an increase from 47,732 to 77,300 for Family stream places for this program year only. This is great news for partner visa applicants and their sponsors as a whooping 93.5% of the family stream places have been allocated to partner visa applicants! 

This, however, means a reduced number of places for other family stream applicants such as parent and relative migration. There may be other temporary visa options which can be explored for these affected individuals.

Partner visa applicants where the relevant sponsor resides in a designated regional area, will be prioritised this program year. Additionally, one of the most significant changes to the partner visa program proposed in previous years, would now be coming into effect in late 2021 – the mandatory family sponsorship provisions for partner visas will be implemented, requiring character checks and sharing of personal information with the applicant, and enforceable sponsorship obligations. 

English tests will now have to be taken by the sponsor and partner visa applicant to enhance social cohesion and economic participation outcomes. In line with this new requirement, the previous 510-hour cap on class hours and time limits on the free English language tuition available under the Adult Migration English Program has been removed.

Overall, it’s a positive outlook for Australians with de facto partners’ or spouses’ looking to reunite or return to Australia permanently.

Global Talent Independent (GTI) Program

Australia seeks to attract the best and brightest talent from around the world to help develop the economy, particularly in the tech and innovation sectors. Places in the Global Talent Independent (GTI) program have tripled to 15,000 to encourage more highly skilled professionals to work, live and contribute to the Australian economy. 

If you are a highly skilled professional (or even a graduate student) and recognised in your field, you may be able to apply for this unique pathway. You will be expected to display an exceptional track record of outstanding achievement which may include senior roles in a leading organisation, patents, professional awards and international publications. The GTI applicants should also have the ability to attract a salary at or above the Fair Work high income threshold (FWHIT), which is currently AUD$153,600.

Applicants must be highly skilled in one of the seven target sectors:

  • AgTech
  • Space and Advanced Manufacturing
  • FinTech
  • Energy and Mining Technology
  • MedTech
  • Cyber Security
  • Quantum Information, Advanced Digital, Data Science and ICT

GTI visa applications generally are processed within 2-4 weeks and is the quickest way to Australian permanent residency.

Employer-Sponsored Visas & The Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List

Employer-sponsored visas are being given primacy, perhaps even more so than the previously popular General Skilled Migration program. The Employer Sponsored Visa enables skilled workers with relevant qualifications and/or experience who are nominated by an employer to live and work in Australia for up to 4 years with a pathway to permanent residency in certain circumstances.

The employee must be nominated by an Australian employer, have an occupation that is on the list of eligible skilled occupations, and have at least 2 years of relevant work experience for the role nominated at time of decision on the application. It is a practical and win-win option for both parties – businesses are able to access skills that are unavailable or in shortage locally and the visa applicant will be assured of a job on arrival in Australia.

Employer sponsored nomination and visa applications with an occupation on the PMSOL will be given priority processing – only 17 occupations have been identified as critical to Australia’s management and recovery of the coronavirus pandemic. All other skilled occupation lists will remain active, but the PMSOL occupations will take priority. 

The General Skilled Migration program will continue, although with a lesser number of places offered. 

The 17 Priority Skilled Occupations are:

  • 111111 Chief Executive or Managing Director 
  • 133111 Construction Project Manager 
  • 233512 Mechanical Engineer
  • 253111 General Practitioner 
  • 253112 Resident Medical Officer
  • 253411 Psychiatrist 
  • 253999 Medical Practitioner 
  • 254111 Midwife 
  • 254412 Registered Nurse (Aged Care)
  • 254415 Registered Nurse (Critical Care and Emergency) 
  • 254418 Registered Nurse (Medical) 
  • 254422 Registered Nurse (Mental Health) 
  • 254423 Registered Nurse (Perioperative) 
  • 254499 Registered Nurses
  • 261312 Developer Programmer 
  • 261313 Software Engineer 
  • 312911 Maintenance Planner 

The list is temporary and priority occupations may change as Australia recovers from the pandemic.

Business Innovation and Investment Visas

This is a brilliant pathway to a temporary or permanent visa for international high value investors, business owners and entrepreneurs being prioritised with the sole purpose of improving the economic outcomes of the country post-COVID. Places in this program will be increased to a significant 13,500. 

One of the most common visas in this category is the Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) visa (Subclass 188a – Business Innovation stream) which leads to a permanent residency if certain conditions are met while the applicant and/or their spouse are on the 188a visa.

Applicants will be able to:

  • Operate a new or existing business in Australia;
  • Bring eligible family members with you;
  • Stay in the country for up to 4 years.

There are also investment related visas with applicants having to come up with a minimum investment amount, the lowest of which is AUD$1.5 million under the Subclass 188b -Investor Stream. 

Schedule a Consultation with one of our Immigration Law Specialists if a Prioritised Visa Category Appeals to you

Augustine & Co. Immigration Lawyers is a full-service Australian immigration law firm that represents organizations and individuals from all over the world. You will benefit from the expertise of a global law firm, whilst we strive to provide you with a strategic action plan that serves as a solution piece to all your specific immigration needs and desires.