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What the 2020-21 federal budget means for immigration

13 October 2020

#Immigration Law, #COVID-19

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What the 2020-21 federal budget means for immigration

With travel restrictions being in place for more than six months now, it’s no surprise that the government is forecasting Australia’s net overseas migration to fall from around 154,000 in 2019-20 to -72,000 by the end of 2020-21. The forecasts expect net overseas migration will increase to around 201,000 in 2023-24 with a gradual return of international students and permanent migrants later next year.

Migration planning levels

The ceiling for the Migration Program is to remain at 160,000 places for the 2020-21 program year with a strong focus on the Global Talent Independent program and Business Innovation and Investment Program. The table below shows the allocation of places across the family, skilled and business programs. 

The increase in places available to the family stream is for this year only which prioritises partner visas for people living in regional Australia. This increase should see processing times for the onshore partner visa program reduce significantly, however, parent visa processing times will become longer with the annual quota being reduced. 

Employer sponsored, global talent and business innovation and investment visas will be prioritised.

Partner visa changes

In addition to increasing the number of places available to partner visas, the government will apply the family sponsorship framework to partner visas which will mandate character checks and the sharing of information as part of a mandatory sponsorship application and sponsors will be subject to enforceable sponsorship obligations. These changes have been expected for a number of years and the legislation is already in place. The impact with these changes is the requirement for the sponsor to first lodge and have a sponsorship application approved before any partner visa application can be lodged, which may be problematic if there is a visa deadline.

An introduction of English language requirements for partner visa applicants and their sponsors is also expected to be introduced late in 2021 to help support English language acquisition and enhance social cohesion and economic participation outcomes.

Business Innovation and Investment Program

From 1 July 2021, the government intends to streamline and improve the operation of the Business Innovation and Investment Program (BIIP) by introducing changes to improve the quality of investment and applicants. Visa application charges for this program will also be increased.

These changes will sharpen the focus of the BIIP program on higher value investors, business owners and entrepreneurs and improve the economic outcomes of the program.

COVID-19-related visa application charge refunds

Prospective Marriage, Pacific Labour Scheme and Seasonal Worker Program visa holders will be entitled to a refund of their visa application charge. 

Temporary skilled workers, visitor visa holders and working holiday makers will be eligible for a fee waiver when they apply for a subsequent visa to allow them to return to Australia once travel restrictions are lifted.

These refunds and waivers will be available to current visa holders who are unable to travel until the border reopens.

For more information, please contact us.

Author: Rebecca Macmillan

The information in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavour to provide accurate and timely information, we do not guarantee that the information in this newsletter is accurate at the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future.

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