Treasurer Josh Frydenberg delivered his second pandemic budget and declared that the migration planning level for 2021-22 will remain unchanged and the focus will remain intact on onshore visa applicants. Let’s dive into the details of the impacts international students outside and inside Australia will face as a result of the Budget 2021-22 plans.
Phased return of international students
The budget paper states “Small phased programs for international students will commence in late 2021 and gradually increase from 2022,”. This is a key assumption in the budget paper’s economic forecast as international students contribute largely to the country’s economy. This program focuses on the following major aspects-
- The government is planning on completing the Covid-19 vaccine rollouts by the end of 2021
- The international students will start to return to Australia by late 2021
- A small number of students will be allowed and gradually the number will increase only after the Australian government ensures the safety of those residing in Australia through vaccination.
Flexibility for student visa holders
The international students in the hospitality and tourism sectors will no longer face a cap on working hours. The Australian government is well aware of the adversities faced by the hospitality and tourism industry and has provided the flexibility to the student visa holders of this sector to work beyond the current 40 hours per fortnight limit temporarily. This is an additional provision on the previous change in response to COVID-19 which allowed the students working in critical sectors such as agriculture, aged and health care to work more than 40 hours per fortnight.
Temporary visa holders
In order to allow the critical workers to extend their stay in Australia, the government has made various flexible arrangements.
- Seasonal Worker Programme workers with visas due to expire will be able to apply for a Temporary Activity (subclass 408) visa in the Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream.
- Pacific Labour Scheme workers with visas due to expire can apply for a new Temporary Work (International Relations) (subclass 403) Pacific Labour scheme stream visa.
- Workers currently in Australia under these programs will also be exempt from the requirement to work for a single employer and will be able to move between approved employers.
- A temporary visa holder can now apply for the Temporary Activity visa 90 days prior to visa expiry. The application date earlier was 28 days prior to the visa expiry date.
In addition, Working Holiday Makers who are working in critical sectors (eg agriculture, aged or health care) will be exempt from the 6-month work limitation with one employer and eligible for a Temporary Activity (subclass 408) visa in the Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream.
Impacts on skilled migration
The Australian government is holding a firm foot with their previous decision on prioritizing Employer-Sponsored, Global Talent, Business Innovation and Investment Program visas within the Skilled Stream. Last year the government had tripled the allocation of the Global Talent Independent (GTI) Program to 15,000 places, which was a massive increase from the previous program year’s planning levels, as part of which, only 5,000 places had been granted. So, overall there will be no major changes.
Australia has set an example to the world in this global pandemic, let’s hope the world heals soon and you can travel to this beautiful country for your further education.