| 4 March 2024, Monday |

Australia announces stricter visa rules for students, workers as it prepares to overhaul immigration system

Australia announced on Monday (Dec 11) its plans to address the “broken immigration system” by implementing stricter visa rules, thereby limiting the intake of international students and low-skilled workers in the country.
While announcing the decision, Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said in a statement ahead of the formal release of the government’s strategy that the move is expected to halve its migrant intake over the next two years.

“We’ve worked around the clock to strike the best balance in Australia’s migration system,” Clare O’Neil said.
“The government’s targeted reforms are already putting downward pressure on net overseas migration, and will further contribute to this expected decline,” O’Neil said.

The decision comes after net immigration was expected to have peaked at a record 510,000 in 2022-23. Official data showed it was forecast to fall to about a quarter of a million in 2024-25 and 2025-26, roughly in line with pre-Covid levels, reports Reuters news agency.

O’Neil said the increase in net overseas migration in 2022-23 was mostly driven by international students.

Mired in bureaucratic problems
The Albanese government have been trying to overhaul the immigration system as it continues to get mired in bureaucratic problems.

For example, the occupation codes used on the back end of Australia’s migration, tax and other systems have not been added since 2013.

There are jobs in Australia today facing labour shortages that did not exist when the code was last updated, reports ABC News.

Over the weekend, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese asserted that Australia’s migration numbers needed to be brought back to a “sustainable level”, adding that “the system is broken.”

Moreover, under the proposed policies, international students would need higher ratings on English tests. It will also end settings that allow students to prolong their stay in Australia.

Stringent English tests for students
A new specialist visa for highly skilled workers will be set up with the processing time cut to one week, helping businesses recruit top migrants amid tough competition with other developed economies.

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