Visa Changes Ahead for 2024

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February 18, 2024

As 2023 came to a close, the Australian Government finally released its new strategy to reform the country’s migration system. Some smaller changes were announced over the course of last year, from the closure of the pandemic visa to minor adjustments to UK Working Holiday visas to raising the TSMIT threshold to $70,000. However, the changes expected for this year are set to be some of the most significant we have faced in recent years. This article outlines these changes, from the reasoning behind them to changes to student and graduate visas, and finally to a new visa proposed by the Australian Government.

Why are the Visa Changes Going Ahead?

Australia had very sustainable migration levels before the pandemic, before plummeting over the pandemic years as tourists, student visas, and other significant visa subclasses were limited. Once the borders reopened in the country across 2022-2023, Australia’s Net overseas migration number peaked at 510,000. The new strategy aims to reduce this figure to 375,000 in the 2023-2024 financial year, and then lower it further to 250,000 in the year following, keeping it at a sustainable level across the country. Ultimately it is trying to encourage permanent migration over temporary migration, with more opportunities for permanent residence.

Changes to Student & Graduate Visas

There are a number of changes to the application criteria that students and graduates will need to meet to qualify for their respective visas. The student visa changes, including their prioritised processing, are set to take place in early 2024 while the graduate visa changes are planned to commence from mid-2024.

Heightened English Language Requirements

Applicants for student and graduate visas will have higher English language requirements. The government hopes this measure will improve the quality of student educational experiences and improve the workplace experience of graduate visa holders.

  • Those applying for student visas will now need an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score of 6.0, previously 5.5, or an equivalent English proficiency test.
  • Similarly, those applying for graduate visas will now require an IELTS score of 6.5, up from 6.0.

A New Genuine Student Test

Set to replace the Genuine Temporary Entrant requirement, the new Genuine Student Test aims to encourage genuine students to come and study in Australia. Conversely, it is expected to discourage non-genuine student applicants whose intention is to work rather than study by use of accurate wording and criteria, leaving more places for those who want to study and learn in Australia.

Changed Age Criteria for Graduate Visas

The age of new graduate visa applicants has been dramatically reduced from 50 years of age to only 35 years old. This drastically changes the kinds of people who are able to access this visa type, with the aim to push visa hopefuls onto more permanent visa alternatives.

Reduced Visa Duration for Graduate Visas

The length of post-study graduate visas is set to change midway through 2024, while still being long enough to gain necessary work experience in Australia.

  • For graduates with Bachelor’s degrees or Masters by coursework visa durations have been reduced to two years.
  • Graduates of Masters by research or PhD visa durations have been reduced to three years.
  • Students in regional areas will be eligible for a second visa of one to two years depending on their location.
  • Stay periods for Indian nationals on Graduate visas are not set to change based on the recent trade agreement between our countries.

These changes are aimed at reducing long-term temporary visa holders and moving prospective applicants into visas with permanent residency pathways.

New Visa for In-Demand Skilled Workers

Probably the largest change coming to our visa system is for employer-sponsored visas and is set to come into existence in late 2024. A new four-year temporary skilled worker visa will replace our current Temporary Skill Shortage visa (Subclass 482). This visa is proposed to have a median visa processing time of seven days to keep our workforce moving. Here’s what we know about the new Skills in Demand visa so far:

  • Guaranteed Pathways to Permanent Residence
      • Periods of employment with any approved employer will count towards permanent residence, allowing for more job opportunities and skills growth.
  • More Time to Find a New Job
      • If an employment relationship with a sponsor ceases, visa holders will have 180 days (up from 60) to find another sponsor and can work during this period.
  • Trailing Employer Fees
      • The government will explore a model for employers to pay trailing charges, monthly or quarterly, to help encourage new employers to offer sponsorship.
  • Streamlines Visa Applications
      • Visa applications will be backed by a service standard for visa processing, enabling employers to fill vacancies quickly.
  • Public Register of Sponsors to Assist Mobility
      • A public register of approved sponsors will be developed to assist migrants wishing to find a new sponsor.
  • Three Pathways Within Visa
  • Specialist Skills Pathway
        • A streamlined approach for specialised skilled workers that allows for quick and easy recruitment.
        • Available for any occupation except trades workers, machinery operations and drivers, and labourers.
        • For those earning at least $135,000 (the Specialist Skills Threshold) and no less than Australian workers in the same occupation.
  • Core Skills Pathway
      • Designed to meet targeted workforce needs now and in the future to support our ways of life.
      • Available for those whose occupation is on a new Core Skills Occupations List.
      • For those who will be paid a salary at or above the TSMIT (which will be renamed the Core Skills Threshold when the system is implemented) or the relevant average market salary.

Looking to the Future of 2024

We can expect many more visa announcements and updates over the course of the year as the Australian Government works to overhaul our current visa system. As more details emerge about the Skills in Demand Visa, you can expect to hear it first from us. For more clarity on what these changes might mean for you or to discuss your visa options, contact us at AustraliaMigrate today.


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