Australian Visas in 2020

What we're expecting to see in 2020.

What’s happening and what you need to know

Is applying for an Australian visa on your 2020 to-do list?

Last year saw the introduction of new regional visas, Designated Area Migration Agreements, a new temporary parent visa and major changes to the Working Holiday Visa program.

If 2019 is anything to go by, 2020 may well be another rollercoaster year for migrants.

So, what’s changing?

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Traffic Light Bulletin

The Traffic Light Bulletin is prepared by the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Businesses. It’s a consultation paper used by the Government to help determine which occupations should be allowed visa pathways and which skilled occupation list they should be placed on.

It flags roles for possible removal and recommends the introduction of caveats and status changes for others.

As the name suggests, the Traffic Light Bulletin is colour-coded. Occupations are red if they’re recommended for removal, orange if they’ve been flagged for movement between lists and green if an occupation has been earmarked for addition to an occupation list.

Woman at the hairdresser

The most recent Traffic Light Bulletin was published late last year. The occupations recommended for removal from the Short-Term Skilled Occupation List are:

• Hairdresser
• Massage Therapist
• Gardener (General)
• Careers Counsellor
• Vehicle Trimmer
• Business Machine Mechanic
• Animal Attendants and Trainers NEC
• Wood Machinist
• Community Worker
• Diving Instructor (Open Water)
• Gymnastics Coach or Instructor

A number of popular occupations have also been selected for possible transfer from the medium list to the short list, effectively closing permanent residency pathways for people in those roles. These include:

• Cabinetmaker
• Wall and Floor Tiler
• Automotive Electrician
• Glazier

Other occupations have been flagged for transfer from the Short-Term Skilled Occupation List to the Regional Occupation List.

Remember, the Bulletin does not represent a final Government decision; it’s a consultation paper and submissions can be made by stakeholders dissatisfied with the Bulletin’s recommendations.

Recommendations can and do change. However, if your occupation has been flagged for removal, it’s obviously a good idea to make a visa application sooner rather than later.

Regional Visas

It’s no secret that the Australian Government wants to see more migrants in the regional towns and cities.

A number of policies and new visa programs were introduced last year to encourage the switch from popular hubs like Sydney and Melbourne to designated regional areas.

The regional visas – subclass 491 and subclass 494 – are relatively new and whilst demand isn’t overly high at the moment, it’s likely that 2020 will see an increase in applications as employers and applicants become more familiar with them.

Both of these visa options offer PR pathways via the new 191 permanent residence (skilled regional) visa.

Australia Island

International Graduates

International graduates studying in regional areas have also been given a boost after the Government announced a new policy offering extra post-study work rights.

It was announced that from 2021, some international graduates will be eligible for an extension of the current two-year post-study work stream of the subclass 485 temporary graduate visa.

These arrangements will kick in next year and require ongoing residence in a regional area.

Those who studied at a regional campus of a metropolitan university will also be eligible.

Whether graduates are entitled to an extra year or an extra two years will depend on where they studied and reside.

• Graduates who studied and lived in category 2 areas can apply for an additional year of post-study work rights. Category 2 areas are ‘cities and major regional centres of Perth, Adelaide, the Gold Coast, Canberra, Newcastle/Lake Macquarie, Geelong, Hobart, Wollongong/Illawarra and the Sunshine Coast’.

• Graduates who studied and lived in category 3 areas can apply for an additional two years on a second 485 visa. These areas are ‘regional centres and other regional areas’.

2020 Migration Program

The Government’s permanent Migration Program ceiling has been set at 160,000 for 2019-20.

Places are allocated across the following streams:

• Skill Stream – 108,682
• Family Stream – 47,732
• Special Eligibility – 236
• Child (estimate as there is no firm ceiling) – 3,350

Within the Skill Stream, around 25,000 of the available places are set aside for regional visas.

The cap has been reduced from 190,000, representing a significant reduction.

AAT Appeals Up 34 Per Cent

Last year was a busy one for the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) Migration and Refugee Division, with applications up 34 per cent on the previous year.

According to the AAT’s most recent annual report, there are around 60,000 on hand applications.

In September last year, the Morrison Government put the backlog in appeals down to enhanced scrutiny of applications and more PR and temporary visa refusals.

Immigration Minister David Coleman said that “vetting processes are much stronger than those in place under Labor”, adding that the Government’s immigration program is “focused on integrity and quality”.

If these words are anything to go by, the trend for refusals, and more AAT appeals, is likely to continue.

Whilst using a Registered Migration Agent is optional and does not guarantee success, a professionally managed application – or appeal – might be just what you need to get over the line.

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Sponsors and Visa Holders Affected by Bush Fires

Australia’s devastating bush fires have left many people displaced and the overall lasting impact is difficult to comprehend right now.

The Migration Institute of Australia (MIA) announced this week that it’s in talks with the Department of Home Affairs about the impact of the fires on employer sponsors and visa holders.

We’re all hoping for flexibility and understanding.

We’ll keep you updated as details are announced.

Free Eligibility Check

If you’re struggling to understand the Australian visa system and need someone to point you in the right direction, contact us today for a free eligibility check.

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