Last year, a series of reforms were announced in various visa categories in Australia’s migration program, slated to be "among the most significant changes" to Australia's immigration system in recent years. Some of the major takeaways from the reforms introduced were: the reduction to the planning ceiling from 190,000 to 160,000 places for four years from 2019-20 reflected an effort on the part of the government to reduce pressure on Australia’s major cities while making way for better urban planning and development to take place. Another major announcement, the introduction of two new sets of visas reflects a desire to boost the development of regional and low-populated areas and to make way for sustainable population growth across Australia. 


The immigration rule changes set to take center-stage in 2020 are : 

In 2019, Australia introduced two new sets of visas to settle more skilled migrants in regional areas. There are 25,000 visa places reserved for the regional visas within Australia's annual permanent migration planning level of 160,000. The new visas replaced subclass 489 and subclass 187 visas.


This plan also holds some perks for Australian horticulture farmers. They will now be able to sponsor overseas workers to work in their farms from this year. The new arrangement commenced on January 1, 2020. This is advantageous because it offers workers concessions in the English language requirements and minimum wage that an employer is required to pay the overseas workers.


While regional migration and semi-skilled workers may have been stressed upon in the recent immigration reforms, a look at the 2019 PR numbers reveals that majority (about 70%) of the places were allocated to the Skilled Migration Program. Australia needs skilled migrants who will contribute to the growth of the economy. The Australian government on its part has made changes to the age and English language requirements under this program to ensure only highly skilled migrants are eligible.


Also, a Global Talent Independent Visa program (GTS) has been introduced by the Australian government to fill the technical talent requirement in Australia. The main aim of the program is to attract tech workers. Expanding the GTS visa to provide permanent residence option is on the plan board.


Australia needs to ensure that it is able to attract the skills needed to strengthen its economy and remain at the forefront of innovation. Australia must strive to attract and retain the ‘best and brightest’ migrants from around the world.

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