Covid-19 Pandemic has drastically affected the migration rate of Australia ever since the outbreak owing to the border restrictions. Moreover, the government also imposed travel bans that made it difficult for people to get Visa. But the year 2022 brings new hope with the recent changes regarding the visa rules.
According to the reports released by Treasury’s mid-year economic update, net overseas migration, which was forecast to be around minus 41,000 people in 2021-22, is expected to increase upto 180,000 people in 2022-23.
Visa holders who can enter Australia currently
The Reopening of Australian borders on 15 December 2021 allowed those international students who were eligible to enter the country and certain skilled visa holders. The reopening took place almost six months earlier than the forecast in the federal budget.
Permanent residents and Australian Citizens can also enter the country, and their immediate family members can do so after applying for an exemption to enter.
Temporary Visa holders
A migration lawyer for Visa Envoy, Ben Wyatt, said that many temporary Visa holders left Australia during the Pandemic due to lack of work and welfare support. He pointed out that the current concerted efforts will be directed towards offering pathways of permanent residency for those individuals who stayed and worked.
Mr Wyatt mentions that the Department of Home Affairs aims to fill the 160,000 places as per the 2021-22 planning level from the people already in the country holding temporary visas. He said that this could be seen as a significant change because the government is flexible and offers a lot of varied pathways and extensions for those already here to accomplish their migration dream.
The Department of Home Affairs spokesperson reiterated that the government has already introduced several visa changes. In addition, the visa settings are undergoing continuous reviews to support the economic recovery.
Skilled migrants in health and hospitality
During the second wave of the Pandemic, many highly skilled workers and professionals chose to stay in Australia and continue their work. Most of them served in the hospitality and health sector. Significant visa changes announced in November last year state that certain migrants who have chosen to stay and work during the crisis would be eligible for permanent residency.
Temporary Skill Shortage (subclass 482) visa holders in the short-term stream are among the beneficiaries of the visa change. Under the previous visa setting, subclass 482 visa holders were allowed a two-year stay without any pathway. On the other hand, individuals who hold Temporary Work Skilled (subclass 457) visa, which is discontinued, may benefit from this.
Immigration Minister Ethan Hawke said that the particular concession recognises the efforts and service o0f those highly skilled migrant workers who chose to stay in Australia during the Pandemic. He also said that about 20,000 visa holders might benefit from the visa change, with most of them working in the health and hospitality industries.
Skilled migrants in the region
Temporary migrants stuck overseas are the ones who suffered the most. Travel restrictions and uncertain directives in line with visa settings proved to heighten their worries. At the same time, the visa holders in Australia do not have to stress as much as they are in a good position.
The new permanent residency pathways seem to be showing some light of hope. For instance, a skilled regional subclass 191 visa is for those people who have lived, worked, and studied in a designated regional area depending on a previous eligible visa.
Although it is a pathway, the particular individual needs to be on a 494 visa for three years, and then they would be eligible to apply for the 191. Also, the Visa does not start until 16 November 2022.
‘Section 48 bar’ lifted for skilled migration visas.
A change to section 48 of the Migration Act has been introduced. As per the change in the visa rule, skilled migrants in Australia temporarily will be allowed to apply onshore for three skilled migration visa subclasses.
Section 48 bar applies to those individuals whose visa applications had been refused or cancelled since their last entry to Australia.
Furthermore, there are vast subsets of people in Australia who are on bridging visas and are required to wait for a migration hearing that can take upto five years. But thanks to the new changes, people in Australia can apply for permanent residence and provisional visas that will allow them to apply for permanent residency.