Key Australian Visa Reforms Unveiled for 2024

Key Australian Visa Reforms Unveiled for 2024In late 2023, the Albanese government revealed its highly anticipated strategy to overhaul Australia’s migration system, introducing significant changes set to take effect in the new year. Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil, in an announcement made early December, outlined the comprehensive strategy, focusing primarily on temporary skilled migration and international education.

The government aims to implement these changes throughout 2024, including stricter English language requirements for student and temporary graduate visas, along with the introduction of a new visa catering to individuals with in-demand skills. Additional announcements, such as a new visa for Pacific migrants, are also poised to come into effect this year.

Future reforms outlined by the government include permanent skilled migration, regional migration, and a review of the Working Holiday Maker program, all of which will undergo consultation throughout 2024.

Objectives of the Migration Strategy

The government’s migration strategy seeks to address the issue of net overseas migration (NOM), which peaked at 510,000 in 2022-23 due to the return of international students and tourists post-COVID-19 restrictions. The strategy aims to reduce NOM to near-pre-pandemic levels, targeting 375,000 in the 2023-24 financial year and further to 250,000 in 2024-25.

According to Minister Clare O’Neil, the goal is to “return migration to sustainable levels.” The strategy aims to mitigate the issue of “permanent temporariness,” where individuals live in Australia on temporary visas, fostering a move towards permanent residency.

Leah Perkins, an immigration law specialist, expressed optimism about the strategy, anticipating better-skilled migration, an increase in permanent migration, and a crackdown on migrant exploitation, particularly in the context of COVID-19.

Changes to Employer-Sponsored Visas

The most significant change forthcoming is the introduction of a four-year temporary skilled worker visa named the “Skills in Demand” visa, set to replace the Temporary Skill Shortage visa (Subclass 482) in late 2024. This new visa offers increased flexibility for workers to change employers and provides pathways to permanent residency.

The “Skills in Demand” visa will have three pathways, including a specialist skills pathway with expedited applications for highly skilled migrants earning at least $135,000. The government aims for a median visa processing time of seven days, aiming to make employer sponsorship more accessible.

Stricter English Language Tests and Student Visa Changes

International students and graduates, comprising a significant portion of Australia’s migrant population, are a key focus of the government’s reforms. The strategy aims to elevate the skill level of incoming students, discouraging those without a clear pathway to permanent residency.

Starting early this year, higher English language requirements for student visas, with a minimum IELTS score of 6.0 (up from 5.5), will be implemented. Temporary graduate visa applicants will also face an increased language proficiency requirement, rising from 6.0 to 6.5. Additionally, a new “Genuine Student Test” will be introduced to encourage genuine applications and discourage those seeking primarily to work.

Other Notable Changes

The strategy outlines the phasing out of COVID concessions, including the discontinuation of the Pandemic Event Visa, to bring migration numbers to pre-pandemic levels. A new visa, the Pacific Engagement Visa (PEV), is set to be introduced in 2024, allowing up to 3,000 nationals from participating countries to migrate to Australia as permanent residents.

The government’s migration strategy for 2024 aims to strike a balance between sustainability, skilled migration, and the reduction of temporary visas. With ongoing consultations, the year promises further reforms in regional migration, lower-paid worker regulations, and a reshaped Working Holiday Maker program, supporting both the regions and its workforce.

Keep following our news and updates we will update you as soon as we receive anything new from the Government. If you would like to discuss your migration plan and want to explore new pathways remember we are here to help. Book an appointment from and allow us to navigate you through the Australian Migration Journey.