Important things to know about migration to Australia in the midst of a pandemic
Even after a few years in the country, employment and English language proficiency remain interrelated issues that hinder and slow down assimilation into the Australian culture. According to the statistics collected from the last quarter (July-September), 44.33 per cent of people who visited the service have limited knowledge of English. We received a plethora of phone calls and emails from newly arrived Greek people and their families, inquiring predominantly, for partner and student visas, after the recent announcements of changes to some visa streams.
Migration to Australia in the midst of the pandemic
The Morrison government is laying the groundwork for the immigration program for the rest of 2020, depending on the “rules imposed” by the pandemic and aiming for economic recovery. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the closed borders affected will significantly affect the size and the composition of the Immigration Program 2020-2021. The size and composition of the immigration program is determined each year through the Australian Government budget process. Competent authorities collect information through extensive public consultation with federal and state authorities, business and community groups and the public. Public opinion, international research, economic and labor forecasts are also some of the factors taken into account when planning the immigration program.
The Treasury Department estimates that Australia’s international borders will gradually open in the first six months of next year, and international travelers will be in quarantine for two weeks, upon arrival. The opening of the borders will trigger new activity in the country’s economy, but it not expected to be close to pre-pandemic levels.
“Australia’s future population will be smaller and older than previously thought, due to the sharp decline in the number of immigrants,” said Josh Frydenberg, Australia’s treasurer and deputy leader of the Liberal Party.
There is a large number of Australians who are unemployed, the largest we have had in many years, which indicates that the government will want to advance the interests of Australians before opening the door to immigrants. This means that migrant-based industries, to fill local skills gaps, will continue to be in short supply.
Family stream visas
The government will increase the number from 47,732 to 77,300 for family visas.
Mandatory character check, a police check, will also, submitted from the sponsor. Until now, only the applicant had to provide a copy of a criminal record. The aim is to reduce the risk of domestic violence and is in line with existing policy.
For permanent partner visas, (subclass 801) knowledge of English is required for visa applicants and sponsors who are permanent residents (not citizens). The English language requirement is set to be introduced for partner visas, from late 2021. The aim is to promote social cohesion and economic participation.
We spoke to migration lawyer Penny Dimopoulos about these changes and she advised that at this stage it is unknown whether the changes will apply to existing applications. Until now, English language was not a requirement for family visas. English is a requirement for other visa steams such as the skilled stream. A relatively simple test in English must be answered when applying for Australian citizenship however; introducing English testing to the partner visa stream is new.
To ensure that Australia recruits people with skills, to help with the economic recovery, priority will be given to Skilled, Global Talent, Business Innovation and Investment visas.
Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL)
The Department of Home Affairs has announced a new immigration priority list for occupations that are in short supply and will have priority in immigration programs.
The new Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL) allows workers to travel to Australia to provide specialist services and meet urgent needs in critical areas. To provide additional support to specific sectors, such as, the health sector and help with Australia’s economic recovery.
Will allow small numbers of sponsored skilled workers to return to Australia to fill urgent skills needs in critical sectors, helping to create Australian jobs and rebuild Australia’s economy.
Visa holders, sponsored by an Australian company in an occupation from the PMSOL list can apply for an exemption from Australian travel restrictions, but will be subject to a strict 14-day quarantine on arrival at their own expense.
Impact on international students.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said that the federal government is working with states and territories on projects that will allow some international students to return on a pilot basis.
To allow international students to return to the country must first meet the conditions set by the national cabinet. “There are a number of conditions that states are well aware of and need top implementation,” Mr. Morrison said.
Subclass 485 (temporary visa, postgraduate level)
The pandemic concessions for subcategory 485 (temporary visa, postgraduate level) will ensure that applicants are not disadvantaged by unforeseen circumstances, such as border closures, business restrictions and general economic COVID-19-related recession.
The changes modify the application requirements and visa criteria for Subcategory 485 (Temporary Visa, Graduate Level), and allow international students to apply for a graduate visa to an applicant outside Australia during the grant period.
Prior to this amendment, most applicants had to be in Australia to apply for and obtain a visa. The amendments allow international students the opportunity to obtain a visa to return to Australia when travel restrictions are lifted.
The main points
In 2019, there was an increased boost towards the regional areas and this financial year will not be an exception.
The focus of the federal government is to protect the interests of Australians and temporary migrants who remain in the country.
Visa applications made in Australia, including applications from international students, may have a greater advantage than applications made outside Australia.
This is the right time for temporary visa holders, who are currently in Australia and have the skills to apply for a visa in designated regional areas where their professions are in high demand.
Professions in high demand
Occupations critical to the country’s economic recovery from the pandemic will remain in high demand.
The health sectors have priority, which is evident from the increase in calls for the categories, subclass 189 (skilled independent), subclass 190 (skilled nominated), subclass 489 (skilled regional provisional).
Accounting and IT graduates in Australia could also benefit from less competition, due to the significant expected reduction in offshore applications, during the Financial Year 2020-2021. In addition, state nominations under subclass 491
Subclass 491 (skilled work regional, provisional) visa could be a blessing in disguise, for graduates who cannot qualify under the highly competitive 189 or 190 subcategory flows.”