Home Travel Australia to reduce its migrant intake as part of general revamp

Australia to reduce its migrant intake as part of general revamp

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The Australian government will apply greater scrutiny to international students applying for visas under a major overhaul of the migration system.

Minister for Home Affairs Clare O’Neil announced the government’s 10-year plan on Monday to return migration to Australia to “sustainable levels” following a spike in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The strategy was formulated in response to a government-commissioned review that found the migration system is “badly broken”.

According to the strategy, net overseas migration to Australia hit an estimated record-high of 510,000 in 2022-23 financial year but will fall to 375,000 in 2023-24 and 250,000 in 2024-25 under the new policy.

O’Neil said the comprehensive plan would raise living standards for Australians, strengthen international relationships, ensure good working conditions for Australians and migrants, offer pathways for migrants to residency and citizenship, and streamline the migration system.

“Our strategy will bring migration numbers back to normal,” she told a press conference in Canberra.

“But it’s not just about numbers. It’s not just about this moment and the experience of migration our country is having at this time. This is about Australia’s future.”

Under the new strategy, international students applying for visas to study in Australia will be subject to higher English language requirements, which the government claims will reduce potential workplace exploitation and improve the educational experience.

In a crackdown on “permanently temporary” migrants, international students applying for a second visa will face greater scrutiny to prove that pursuing further education would advance their academic aspirations or further their career.

Government data shows that the number of international students staying in Australia on multiple consecutive student visas grew by over 30 percent to more than 150,000 in 2022-23 financial year.

O’Neil said the government wanted to curb the rapid growth in Australia’s international education industry.

“We have a good reputation globally as a provider of international education that we should all be concerned about protecting and universities are right there with us,” she said.

A new four-year visa will also be introduced for workers with skills that are in high demand in the Australian labor market, replacing the existing temporary skill shortage visa.

The strategy has been welcomed by Australia’s biggest employer advocate group, the Business Council of Australia (BCA), with chief executive Bran Black praising the plan in a statement for getting the balance right.

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