The recent Federal Budget revealed the impact of COVID-19 on the Australian Government’s migration programs, delivering several important changes, but the cap on places remains firmly in place. However, there was good news for some visa classes.
Similar to last year, the cap of 160,000 remains in place, but three visa categories – partner visa, business visa and Global Talent Independent program (GTI) – are winners in the 2020 Federal Budget.
NewStars Education and Migration Canberra branch manager Victor Lin says the focus is now on family streams and partner visas in particular.
“There has been an increase of around 30,000 places in partner visas this year and priority is being given to the onshore applicants who have applied for permanent residency,” he says.
Partner visa places have increased from 47,732 last year to 77,300 this year, and the number of business visas has nearly doubled with an increase from 6862 last year to 13,500 this year, with a focus on investors and entrepreneurs.
GTI numbers have also increased from 5000 last year to 15,000 this year.
“The number of places for the business visa has doubled with a focus on bringing more capital into the country which will help in the recovery,” says Victor.
“The biggest winner in this year’s budget is the GTI program. Numbers have tripled compared to last year. This program aims to attract people who are highly skilled and will bring knowledge and innovation into Australia.”
Victor, an Australian registered migration agent, points out that while the numbers have increased in these three visa categories, the skilled migration numbers have decreased, as seen in the ACT Government’s occupation list, which saw a decline from around 500 occupations in 2019 to only 82 in 2020.
“We can see a decline of about 50 per cent in skill-related visas,” he says. “The state governments are now putting emphasis on critical skills, which include medical and infrastructure skills. They are also looking at details such as whether or not the applicant is in the country.”
Victor says the budget has had a massive impact on overseas students who have been severely affected due to the decrease in numbers in the skilled migration visas, in addition to travel bans. He said that potential students – those considering studying in Australia and entertaining the possibility of migrating here – will continue to feel the impact of the change in migration programs for a long time.
“We can see the benefits of the increase in partner, business and GTI visas,” says Victor. “However, there is no protection of the interests of local students. We know that international students are concerned about the recovery of the migration program.
“This year is particularly bad for accounting students and they will have to explore other options due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The impact of COVID-19 will be felt on the economy for years.”