UPCOMING IMMIGRATION CHANGES 2021

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2020 has been an unprecedented year due to the impact of COVID-19. Many changes occurred in Australian Immigration this year, from lockdown to border closure and travel ban. Now that 2020 is nearly over and we are ushering in the new year, we have decided to summarise the immigration changes that are expected to be in place in 2021.

Are you prepared for the Australian Immigration changes in 2021? Let’s take a look at what is planned for 2021 in Australian Immigration.

Migration Program Levels

The migration program level would remain at 160,000 for the 2020-21 program year. Whilst the quota remained the same, the distribution of the quota will change. The family stream will increase from 47,732 places to 77,300. To ensure that Australia recruits talented individuals to help with the economic recovery, Employer-Sponsored, Global Talent, Business Innovation and Investment Program visas will be given priority.  Onshore visa applicants and partner visa applicants in regional areas will also be prioritised. This is to encourage migration to regional areas of Australia.

International graduates who have studied and lived in Category 2 will be eligible for an additional 1 year on a second Temporary Graduate visa.

International graduates who have studied and lived in Category 3 will be eligible for an additional 2 years on a second Temporary Graduate visa.

International graduates who have studied and lived in Category 3 will be eligible for an additional 2 years on a second Temporary Graduate visa.

Bachelor degree (including Honours): 2 + 1 year (for cities and major regional centres) or + 2 years for regional centres and other regional areas)

Masters by coursework: 2 + 1 year (for cities and major regional centres) or + 2 years for regional centres and other regional areas)

Masters by research: 3 + 1 year (for cities and major regional centres) or + 2 years for regional centres and other regional areas)

Doctoral degree: 4 + 1 year (for cities and major regional centres) or + 2 years for regional centres and other regional areas)

The overall points to receive an invitation has also dropped dramatically in the last few months. The results for the October 2020 invitation round are as follows:

Subclass 189 – The lowest score to receive an invitation was 65 points. This is a dramatic drop from the previous months, where the lowest score to receive an invitation range between 90 -110. 65 points is the lowest for the whole year however this may happen if you have an occupation on the PMSOL.

Subclass 491 – 65 points remained to be the lowest score to receive an invitation for a subclass 491 visa. The 65 points includes the extra 15 points awarded to subclass 491 visa.

Whilst there is a drop in points to receive an invitation, many people who received the invitations are in targeted sectors. This is in line with the government aims to attract migrants to help with post-COVID-19recovery.

For many months there are no information on pro-rata occupations. The minimum points score has been N/A. It is likely that no invitations were issued for these occupations during these periods.

We expect this trend to continue through to 2021, with people in the targeted sectors receiving priority over other sectors.

Student Visas

Onshore Student Visas

The number of subclass 500 visa applications lodged by onshore applicants has declined since the outbreak. However, the decline is not drastic as applicants are already onshore, and the border closure would have a lesser impact than offshore applicants. Some onshore applicants may also re-apply for a student visa to extend their stay in Australia as they cannot travel back home. Overall, the reduction in subclass 500 applications for onshore applicants is relatively minimal compared to offshore applicants.

Offshore Student Visas

Statistics from the Department of Home Affairs indicate the rapid decline of subclass 500 visa applications lodged by offshore applicants. This is understandable because the closure of borders has a significant impact on the applicant’s ability to travel to Australia. In most months since April 2020, the decline in the number of applications lodged has been more than 50% compared to the previous year.

To combat the negative impact of COVID-19 on the education sector, the government has put in place measures to support the education industry. Some of the support measures include:

  • Waiving student visa fees to allow students to lodge a further student visa application to complete their studies.
  • Students who undertook studies online due to COVID-19 will still be able to apply for a Subclass 485.

Although some students may decide to enrol to study online, the impact of COVID-19 on the education sector will last over some time. Until travel restrictions are removed, many students will be impacted.

Australian Borders Opening

The budget forecast prepared by the Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann assumes that travel restrictions will be lifted between March 2021 and 30 June 2021.

Based on the announced policy the current plan (Between July to December 2020), is to lift the travel ban for Australian citizens, permanent residents, New Zealanders and some international students. However, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg cautioned that the policy is subject to change due to the evolving situation of coronavirus.

The key reason for this plan is to bring back international students who are stranded overseas. Continuous delay in bringing in students would affect universities drastically (even with the recent changes to support international students). The international education industry is the fourth-largest industry in Australia. Students bring approximately $39 billion into the Australian economy.

If the government are opening borders in 2021, it could also mean that overseas processing of permanent resident applications may resume.

Australians Travelling to New Zealand

Jacinta Arden has just announced that the New Zealand government has agreed to establish a trans-Tasman bubble with Australia. She has advised that there are still a lot of work to be done before they can make a final announcement.  For this reason, there is currently no date for the travel period, but we expect to receive an update by early 2021.

Source: Seekvisa