The 2023 Federal Budget: A Game-Changer for Immigration?

Parliament - Canberra - Federal Budget

The 2023-24 Federal Budget has been released, and it includes a number of measures that will impact the migration sector. Some of the key changes include:

  • Migration Planning Levels:  The 2023-24 migration planning level will be 190,000 places, with 137,100 allocated to the skilled migration stream. This is a positive development for the migration sector and Augustine & Co. will continue to contribute to Australia’s economic prosperity by helping businesses to meet labour and skilled workforce needs. Skill shortages are impacting almost every sector, creating one of the major challenges that Australia has experienced in decades.
  • Increase in Fees and Charges: The government has also announced that it will increase Visa Application Charges (VACs) from 1 July 2023.

The Budget Papers indicate that Visa Application Charges will rise by between 6% and 40%, with the increases distributed across the following visa subclasses:

Visa ClassesPercentage increase
Visitor, working holiday, work and holiday, training, temporary activity and temporary work (short stay specialist) visas15%
Business innovation and investment visas40%
Other visas6%
Pacific Engagement Visa and Pacific Australia Labour Mobility visasExempt from increase
  • Visa processing and compliance monitoring: The government has announced that it will increase investment in visa processing and compliance monitoring with funding of $75.8 million over two years from 2023–24. Of this, $48.1 million will be allocated over 12 months to support 500 visa processing officers, in an effort to manage the number of visa applications on hand. $27.8 million of this amount over the two years will be spent to upgrade existing visa ICT systems to improve visa service delivery efficiency. An additional investment of $50.0 million over 4 years from 2023–24 (and $15.3 million per year ongoing) is to be provided for additional enforcement and compliance activities to maintain the integrity of the migration system.
  • Domestic Violence and People Trafficking: $38.2 million will be provided to extend to the current Escaping Violence Payment (EVP) and Temporary Visa Holders Experiencing Violence Pilot (TVP) to January 2025.

$24.3 million will be provided over 4 years from 2023–24 (and $5.9 million per year ongoing) to pilot an additional referral pathway for the Support for Trafficked People Program and to restructure the program, while increasing ongoing funding to address current and projected demand.

  • Immigration Assessment Authority:  The Government will provide $4.0 million in 2023–24 to the Immigration Assessment Authority. The IAA will be responsible for assessing the merits of unsuccessful protection visa applications eligible for fast-track review under the Migration Act 1958, pending the establishment of a new federal administrative review body.
  • Migrant and Refugee Settlement Services: $9.1 million in 2023–24 to be provided to extend existing Youth Transition Support services for 12 months to 30 June 2024 to continue settlement services to young refugees and migrants to improve their employment outcomes.
  • Adult Migrant English Program: The AMEP is a program that provides English language training to adult migrants. This is a positive development, as it will help migrants to integrate into Australian society.

An improved delivery model for the AMEP will be implemented within the existing funding. Changes will provide improved English language, employment, and settlement outcomes for migrants by providing flexible tuition options, introducing a national curriculum, supporting professional development for teachers, and enhancing client support and performance management.

  • Love and Thoms High Court cases:  $5.5 million over 4 years provided to support a pathway to permanent residency for individuals who are not Australian citizens or permanent residents, and who satisfy the tripartite test as set out in Mabo v Queensland [No. 2] (1992) 175 CLR 1, as a result of the High Court’s decision in Love v Commonwealth; Thoms v Commonwealth (2020). 
  • Temporary Graduate Post Study Rights: The government has announced that Temporary Graduate visa holders with select degrees will be eligible for an extra 2 years of post-study work rights to improve the pipeline of skilled labour in key sectors from 1 July 2023.
  • International students working hour cap: The government has announced that it will increase the international students working hour cap from 40 hours per fortnight to 48 hours per fortnight. 

International students working in the aged care sector will be exempt from the capped fortnightly work hour limit until 31 December 2023.

  • Skills Assessment – Improved Skills Recognition: The Government is re-scoping two Skills Assessment Pilots to provide onshore migrants with fast-tracked skills assessments, free employability assessments, and access to further training to improve their employment prospects.

In addition, the Mechanism for the Mutual Recognition of Qualifications will ensure students from India and Australia will have greater certainty that the qualifications they attain will be recognised by both countries.

Overall, the 2023-24 Federal Budget has a number of positive measures that will benefit the migration sector. However, there are also some negative measures that will make it more expensive and difficult for people to migrate to Australia. It will be important to monitor the implementation of these measures to ensure that they have the desired effect.

Augustine & Co. Immigration Lawyers is a leading Australian immigration law firm. We have a team of experienced lawyers & consultants who can help you with all aspects of your migration journey. Please reach out to our Team to discuss your options.

Parliament - Canberra - Federal Budget