With the federal Budget for 2016-2017 due to be released in a few short weeks, speculation is starting to mount about what it is likely to mean for immigration policy in Australia.
We take a look back at what the previous Budget provided in this area, and where those interested in immigration to Australia may find themselves in just under a month.
A year in review
In the 2015-2016 budget, numbers allocated for permanent migration to Australia remained consistent with previous years. There were 190,000 spots for those wanting to migrate to Australia. The majority of those places – 128,550 – were allocated for skilled migrants. Approximately 57,400 spots remained open for migrants sponsored by family members (such as spouses, parents and children), and there was a very small allocation for “special eligibility” migrants. Almost 3,500 spots were also made available for child visa places.
While the numbers remained broadly unchanged, there were a few changes to policy. In one of the main changes, it was announced in the Budget that child visas would no longer be counted under the Migration Program, in a bid to facilitate inter-country adoption by Australian families. The government aims to have the child visa category on a demand-driven footing by the 2019-2020 Budget.
Australia’s Humanitarian Program (which aims to resettle refugees) maintained 13,750 eligible places for those claiming refugee status, the same number of potential entrants as in the 2014-2015 financial year. It was announced at the time that numbers would remain steady at that level for the 2016-2017 Budget, before increasing up to 18,750 by the 2018-2019 Budget.
Importantly, the government announced in September that a further 12,000 humanitarian places would be made available for those fleeing the conflict in Iraq and Syria.
Predictions for this year’s budget
Based on previous years, it seems likely the general migration figures will remain relatively constant, although there may be changes to the way the migration program is managed.
Various groups, such as the Settlement Council of Australia, are lobbying for increased humanitarian places in response to the current refugee crisis. However, a leaked Cabinet document appears to flag changes to the humanitarian program that would make it tougher to get Australian permanent residency, according to an ABC report. The changes include increased monitoring of migrants, an overhaul of the citizenship test, and changes to the way migrants are assessed for suitability for life in Australia.
Since last year’s Budget, Australia also has a new prime minister in Malcolm Turnbull, and may be facing a double dissolution election. The outcome of the election is by no means certain, with the latest Fairfax Ipsos poll pointing to a very close race.
Against that background, what will ultimately be passed in the Budget remains to be seen.
What is certain is that whether you’re interested in Australian permanent residency or just a temporary 457 visa, a registered migration agent can make all the difference to how easy the process is. Move Migration can help with everything from deciding on the right visa category for your circumstances, to submitting your application and preparing for the interview. Contact us to make the most of our expertise today.