The reopening of international travel and what it means for migration to Australia

The reopening of international travel and what it means for migration to Australia

When Australia belatedly reopened its border to the world – first with the return of skilled migration and international students, then to all remaining fully vaccinated visa holders including tourists, business travellers, and other visitors – it signalled not only another significant step in the national economic recovery, but also a vitally important boost to those seeking permanent migration or temporary work in the country.

The 2022-23 Migration Program

The 2022-23 Migration Program will have a planning level of 160,000 places comprising 109,900 ‘Skill’ places to fill shortages in the labour market (including those in regional Australia) – a critical, well-established stream in the permanent migration program – and 50,000 ‘Family’ places predominantly made up of Partner visas. The latter stream will provide family members from overseas with a pathway to citizenship. (Figures and information derived from the Administration of the Immigration and Citizenship Program).

Why reopening matters

Australia’s economy has been severely impacted by the border closures with the loss of billions of dollars in international tourism and education, along with country-wide skills and labour shortages – particularly in regional areas. In turn, the lack of new international students and working holiday makers has further exacerbated the challenge of securing unskilled labour for short-term and seasonal work in particular. Without skilled migrants filling gaps in the workforce, job opportunities for Australians and services provided to local communities have suffered.

Reopening the border can and will steer us back in the right direction. And crucially it will also deliver the opportunities migration applicants have been crying out for over the past two years.

What reopening means

What will the reopening of international travel mean to different cohorts of migrants and visitors to Australia? As always that will depend on individual circumstances, but the message is clear: migration is finally back on the agenda.

Skilled permanent migration applicants

The nation’s doors are well and truly back open to foreign workers – especially in areas of skills shortages such as healthcare and childcare. Australia should be aiming to welcome up to 200,000 skilled permanent migrants per year, according to the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI). Skilled migration applicants should prioritise their readiness to lodge a compliant application – even more so given the inevitable competition for places.

Meanwhile, from 1 July 2022, existing Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa holders in the short-term stream will be able to apply for permanent residence through the Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) stream of the Subclass 186 Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa. To be eligible to apply as a short-term stream TSS visa holder, applicants must have been in Australia between 1 February 2020 and 14 December 2021 for at least one year. This arrangement also applies to subclass 457 visa holders with an occupation on the Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL), where those who held a 457 visa at specific dates have the advantage of applying, even if over 45 years of age (some cohorts can even be over 50, subject to meeting certain conditions). The Department states in their recent March ’22 newsletter that this pathway will be accessible for two years from its commencement on 1 July 2022. However, this legislation has a ‘sunset clause’ of 1 Apr 2032, which means it’s set to remain in place for at least ten years. This will be clarified at a later period.

Seeking permanent residency or temporary work in Australia? Speak to a professional migration consultant specialising in helping foreigners live and work in Australia.

Contact MCA to learn more about your migration application options

Disclaimer: The information provided above is general in nature and may not apply to your specific circumstances. You should seek the relevant advice from registered agents / lawyers relating to your particular situation and circumstances.