2020 has been an unprecedented year for every country, with practically every country going into lockdown and introducing travel bans due to Covid-19. The impact of such a drastic move has started to take its toll, with countries like Australia noticing a massive decrease in their migration figures for 2020-21.
In 2019 the number of people emigrating to Australia was a healthy 154 thousand. However, with the Covid pandemic forcing the country to close its borders, that figure has plummeted to a meagre 31 thousand in 2020. The ban isn’t set to be lifted any time soon, either, with restrictions set to remain in place until at least December. Currently, only Australian citizens, New Zealanders, and – in some instances – international students are allowed to enter. Once these restrictions are eased in January 2021, incoming travellers will be required to undergo a two week isolation period upon arrival.
What this means for those applying for permanent residency
The drop in numbers is bad news for those hoping to gain permanent residency as it appears as though there will also be a decrease in the number of visas granted for those wishing to live there. In April of 2020, there was a 97% drop in permanent residency visas granted compared to March. It is suggested that a focus on prioritising business visas will be implemented in order to help boost the country’s economy.
However, all is not lost for New Zealanders wishing to move as the government pushes to encourage New Zealanders to use the Skills Independent visa and permanently reside in Australia.
Other visa changes
Those currently in Australia on a working holiday visa are now permitted to work in construction and help in the disaster efforts. Those assisting in natural disaster efforts are now also allowed to stay with one employer for 12 months. This seems pertinent not only due to the Covid efforts but also Australia’s bushfires that decimated their wildlife in early 2020. Those on a working holiday visa, who are taking part in the agricultural work scheme that grants them more visa time in exchange for working on a farm, will also have a further year added to their visa.
As with many countries, Australia found its supermarkets struggling to cope with the pandemic. To help combat this, they have amended the student visa to allow students to help out and work more than the previously permitted 40 hours every two weeks. It is unclear how long this will remain the case once the demand for key workers decreases. Students who have to apply for a further visa in order to complete their studies will be granted this visa at no extra cost.
What does this mean for the Australian economy? Because of the dramatic drop in people entering, the economy has understandably taken a hit. This is especially an issue for smaller towns and cities, where they have smaller workforces already. The Australian government needs to permit migration as soon as possible to give the economy a much-needed boost.