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Visa Changes Alert! Australia Immigration Update for 2024 is Attracting Skilled Workers

Australia’s immigration landscape is undergoing significant transformations in 2024, with a strong emphasis on addressing critical skill shortages and streamlining visa procedures. This is particularly in the healthcare and education sectors, where the government is actively prioritizing employer-sponsored visas, especially in regional areas.

Prioritized Processing:

  • Regional Focus Takes Center Stage: Recognizing the dire need for skilled professionals across various industries in regional Australia, the Department of Home Affairs has implemented a crucial change. All employer-sponsored visa applications submitted under the Temporary Skill Shortage (Subclass 482), Employer Nomination Scheme (Subclass 186), and Skilled Employer-Sponsored Regional Provisional (Subclass 494) categories now receive priority processing if the employment is located in a designated regional area.
  • Healthcare and Education: While all regional applications benefit from expedited processing, healthcare and education professions continue to hold a prime position within this system. This prioritizes filling crucial positions in these vital sectors and ensures a quicker turnaround time for businesses seeking qualified personnel.

Previous Grant History

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The recent visa grant history reflects the substantial demand for skilled workers in healthcare. During the 2022-2023 program year, the Department of Home Affairs issued a staggering 6,466 visas to healthcare workers solely under the Subclass 482 visa category. This immense figure underscores the ongoing need for medical professionals across various specializations in Australia.

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The education and training sector is also experiencing a significant rise in demand for qualified professionals. Nearly 1,060 visas were granted in this field during the same period, highlighting the importance of attracting skilled educators and trainers to address the growing student population and evolving educational landscape.

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Additional Changes Shaping the Immigration Landscape

  • Revamping Skills Assessment: The Australian government, in collaboration with the Skills Recognition Authority (Skills) – formerly known as the ACS Talent Assessment Authority – is actively revamping the skills assessment process. This initiative, particularly relevant for occupations like IT engineer and data scientist, aims to streamline the application procedure and offer more comprehensive support to applicants. The revamped assessment platform will emphasize providing clearer guidance throughout the process and expedite the evaluation of applications, ultimately leading to a smoother and faster experience for skilled professionals seeking to migrate to Australia.
  • Temporary Graduate Visa Age Limit Reduction: A Controversial Move: A significant change set to take effect in mid-2024 has sparked concerns within the international student community. The age limit to qualify for the post-study work visa (Subclass 485) will be reduced from 50 to 35 years old. While the intention might be to encourage younger graduates to transition into the workforce sooner, this decision has created a considerable inconsistency. The current skilled migration PR visa maintains an age limit of 45, resulting in a 10-year gap between the two categories. The government is actively exploring solutions to address this incongruity and potentially propose an age range for the Subclass 485 visa that aligns more effectively with the skilled migration PR pathway. Additionally, the reduction in the age limit aims to tackle the issue of “permanent temporariness” – a situation where international graduates find themselves with limited options to remain in Australia after their initial visa expires.
  • Extending Tourist Opportunities: Recognizing the potential to boost tourism and strengthen business ties within the region, Australia is contemplating expanding its highly sought-after 10-year Frequent Traveler Visa program. Timor Leste and potentially other Southeast Asian nations are strong contenders for inclusion in this initiative. Granting long-term visas to frequent travelers from these countries would not only enhance the tourism industry but also facilitate smoother business interactions and potentially attract foreign investments.
  • Changes to Post-Study Work Rights: In an effort to streamline the immigration process and potentially address concerns regarding the skilled workforce landscape, the two-year extension for post-study work rights will be discontinued from mid-2024. International graduates can still apply for the core Temporary Graduate visa stream; however, the previously available extension option will no longer be accessible.

Overall, these changes reflect Australia’s focus on

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  • Attracting skilled workers: Streamlining visa processes for healthcare, education, and other in-demand professions, particularly in regional areas.
  • Enhancing the student pathway: While the post-study work extension is ending, the core graduate visa program remains.
  • Boosting tourism and business: Extending visa validity periods for frequent travelers and business visitors.

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