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Australian Federal Budget 2024 – 2025: Major Immigration Reforms Announced

The Australian government has delivered the Federal Budget for 2024-2025, outlining its plans for revenue and expenditure for the upcoming financial year. Among the key highlights are significant immigration reforms aimed at strengthening economic growth and enhancing the credibility of Australia’s migration system.

Migration System Reforms and Funding for the Department of Home Affairs

Over the next four years, the government has committed $18.3 million to advance migration system reforms. The budget allocation includes:

  • $15.0 million over three years to educate migrant workers about their rights, workplace protections, and compliance with migration regulations.
  • $1.9 million for 2024–25 to support a pilot program facilitating data sharing between the Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Taxation Office, aimed at preventing the exploitation of migrant workers.

Additionally, the budget reflects a significant investment in personnel to improve service delivery efficiency and reduce processing delays. Services Australia will address previous underfunding and minimise backlogs, while the Department of Home Affairs will enhance visa processing efficiency.

Strengthening the Department of Home Affairs

An additional $100 million has been allocated to the Department of Home Affairs to support essential operations such as the Australian Border Force, immigration enforcement, and the maintenance of critical systems.

Permanent Migration Program

For the 2024–25 period, the government has set a total of 185,000 places for the permanent Migration Program, with 132,200 places allocated to the Skilled stream. Starting from 2025–26, the government plans to extend the planning period for the permanent Migration Program from one year to four years.

Changes to Visa Allocations

  • Employer Sponsored Visas: Increased from 36,825 to 44,000.
  • Skilled Independent Visas: Decreased from 30,375 to 16,900.
  • Regional Visas: Increased from 32,300 to 33,000.
  • Business Innovation and Investment Visas: Reduced from 1,900 to 1,000.

The family-sponsored visa program remains unchanged, with 52,500 places allocated.

Reducing Net Overseas Migration

The government projects a 110,000-individual reduction in net overseas migration from July 1, 2024. Net overseas migration is expected to decrease from 528,000 in 2022–23 to approximately 260,000 by 2024–25.

Extended Validity for Business Visitor Visas for Indian Nationals

The validity of the Visitor visa (subclass 600) in the Business Visitor stream for Indian nationals will increase from three years to five years.

Introduction of the Talented Early-Professionals Scheme (MATES)

Starting November 1, 2024, the MATES scheme will provide mobility pathways for up to 3,000 Indian graduates and early-career professionals to live and work in Australia for up to two years.

Temporary Skill Shortage Visa Reform

From November 23, 2024, the work experience requirement for the Temporary Skill Shortage (subclass 482) visa will be reduced from two years to one year for all applicants.

Introduction of the National Innovation Visa

The Australian government plans to introduce the National Innovation Visa by the end of 2024, replacing the Global Talent (subclass 858) Visa. This new visa aims to attract highly skilled migrants to contribute to key sectors. The Business Innovation and Investment visa program will be discontinued, and applicants will be eligible for a visa application charge refund starting September 2024.

Work and Holiday Visa Ballot System

A pre-application (ballot) system for the Work and Holiday (subclass 462) visa program will be introduced for applicants from China, Vietnam, and India starting in 2024–25. A $25 fee will be charged for the ballot, adjusted annually according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Establishment of the Administrative Review Tribunal (ART)

A total of $1.0 billion over five years has been allocated to establish the Administrative Review Tribunal (ART), replacing the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). This includes $854.3 million over four years for a demand-based funding model to resolve all case submissions annually and $75.1 million to assist agencies in transitioning from the AAT to the ART over five years.

Additional Funding for Southeast Asia Engagement

An additional $505.9 million will be allocated over five years to strengthen ties with Southeast Asia, with $1.1 million dedicated to enhancing visa services for ASEAN nations and Timor-Leste.

Establishment of the Leaving Violence Program (LVP)

With $925.2 million over five years, the LVP will provide financial aid, safety evaluations, and referrals to support services for individuals escaping violent relationships.

Reforms to Migrant and Refugee Settlement Services

The government will invest $120.9 million over five years to enhance settlement services and improve economic and social integration for refugees and migrants. This includes:

  • $86.6 million for the Humanitarian Settlement Program.
  • $27.0 million for Youth Transition Support services and specialised assistance for refugee and migrant women.
  • $3.8 million for conversational English classes in Community Hubs.
  • $1.9 million for extended Medicare access for Ukrainian visa holders.
  • $1.0 million for the Community Refugee Integration and Settlement Pilot.
These comprehensive reforms and budget allocations underscore the Australian government’s commitment to enhancing its migration system, supporting economic growth, and improving the well-being of migrants and refugees.

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