The Federal Budget for the fiscal year 2023-24, was released on May 9, 2023. The budget includes various announcements related to the Department of Home Affairs portfolio and the migration program.
Here are the key highlights:
- Migration Planning Levels: The migration planning level for 2023-24 will be set at 190,000 places, with 137,100 allocated to the skilled migration stream.
- Increase in Fees and Charges: Visa Application Charges (VACs) will be increased starting from July 1, 2023. The increases range from 6% to 40% across different visa subclasses:
- Business innovation and investment visas will experience a 40% increase,
- while visitor visas and other visas will have a 15% and 6% increase, respectively.
- The Pacific Engagement Visa and Pacific Australia Labour Mobility visas will be exempt from the fee increase.
- Additionally, the Passenger Movement Charge paid by carriers will increase from $60 to $70.
- Increase in TSMIT: The Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) will be increased from $53,900 to $70,000 from July 1, 2023.
- Visa Processing and Compliance Monitoring:
Funding of $75.8 million over two years will be allocated to support visa processing capacity. This includes $48.1 million for hiring 500 visa processing officers and $27.8 million for upgrading visa ICT systems to improve efficiency. An additional investment of $50.0 million over four years will be provided for enforcement and compliance activities to ensure the integrity of the migration system.
- AusCheck: AusCheck, which provides background checking and card issuing services, will receive $164.8 million over four years to establish enduring funding arrangements. The services of AusCheck will be extended to the migration service industry for assessing Registered Migration Agents.
- Domestic Violence and People Trafficking: $38.2 million will be allocated to extend the Escaping Violence Payment (EVP) and Temporary Visa Holders Experiencing Violence Pilot (TVP) until January 2025. An additional $24.3 million over four years will be provided to enhance the Support for Trafficked People Program and address the current and projected demand.
- Immigration Assessment Authority:
The Immigration Assessment Authority will receive $4.0 million in 2023-24 to continue reviewing protection visa applications eligible for fast-track review under the Migration Act 1958.
- Migrant and Refugee Settlement Services: $9.1 million will be allocated to extend existing Youth Transition Support services for 12 months, focusing on improving employment outcomes for young refugees and migrants. The maximum duration of eligibility for services under various settlement programs will be removed.
- Adult Migrant English Program: An improved delivery model for the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) will be implemented within the existing funding. Changes will include flexible tuition options, a national curriculum, professional development for teachers, and enhanced client support and performance management.
- Love and Thoms High Court cases: $5.5 million over four years will be provided to establish a pathway to permanent residency for individuals who satisfy the tripartite test set out in the High Court’s decision in Love v Commonwealth; Thoms v Commonwealth.
- Temporary Graduate Post Study Rights:
Temporary Graduate visa holders with select degrees will be eligible for an additional two years of post-study work rights, aiming to enhance the availability of skilled labor in key sectors.
- International students working hour cap: The working hour cap for international student visa holders will be reinstated from July 1, 2023, at 48 hours per fortnight, an increase of 8 hours from pre-pandemic levels. International
- PALM Scheme Additional training places will be created for Pacific Australia Labour Mobility scheme workers in priority sectors for the Pacific and Timor-Leste and where there are job shortages in Australia.
- Skills Assessment – Improved Skills Recognition The Government is re-scoping two Skills Assessment Pilots to provide onshore migrants with fast-tracked skills assessments, free employability assessments, and access to further training to improve their employment prospects. In addition, the Mechanism for the Mutual Recognition of Qualifications will ensure students from India and Australia will have greater certainty that the qualifications they attain will be recognised by both countries.