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Federal Budget Analysis 2020-21

Written By Maryke Wylde
Wed, Oct 14, 2020
Maryke Wylde

The 2020-21 Budget has been released and has shown a number of planned changes to the Department of Home Affairs and the migration program, with significant changes to the General Skilled, Family, and Global Talent categories.

The immigration intake set for 2020/21 will remain at 160,000. However, the planning levels will see a drop for all Independent and State Nominated Skilled visas, with the emphasis moving to Global Talent and high-value investors, entrepreneurs and business owners.

Family stream visas will be given a greater allocation going from 47,732 places up to 77,300 places (with 72,300 of these being Partner visas). Partner visa applicants with sponsors living in designated regional areas will also receive processing priority.

In terms of order of consideration, onshore applicants will receive priority. Employer sponsored, global talent, business innovation and investment visa will also be given preference.

Planning Levels 2020-21 to 2019-20

The Migration Program Planning levels are listed below. Many visas such as the Skilled Independent, State Nomination and Regional have had their quotas halved. The capacity for Partner, Business Innovation & Investment Program and Global Talent have been substantially increased.

See: Department of Home Affairs Migration program planning levels

Stream and Category  2020-21 Planned  2019-20 Planned  Difference 
Skill Stream 
Employer Sponsored  22,000  30,000  -8,000 
Skilled Independent  6,500  18,652  -12,152 
Regional  11,200  23,000  -11,800 
State/Territory Nominated  11,200  24,968  -13,768 
Business Innovation & Investment program  13,500  6,862  +6,638 
Global Talent  15,000  5,000  +10,000 
Distinguished Talent  200  200 
Family Stream 
Partner  72,300  39,799  +32,501 
Parent  4,500  7,371  -2,871 
Other Family  500  562  -62 
Special Eligibility  100  236  -136 
Child (estimate; not subject to a ceiling)  3,000  3,350  -1350 

Skill Stream – major updates

Global Talent: The Government has tripled the number of places available to 15,000. This is a streamlined visa pathway for highly skilled professionals to work and live permanently in Australia. According to the Department of Home Affairs “Australia is after the brightest and best global talent to work in seven future-focused sectors. The program is designed to help grow our innovation and tech economies. This will create opportunities for Australians by transferring skills, promoting innovation, and creating jobs.”

Business Innovation and Investment: An increase to 13,500 places and a focus on high value investment, business owners with larger businesses and entrepreneurs. Visa application charges will be increased by an additional 11.3% on 1 July 2021. Eligibility criteria is here.

New Zealand Citizens: According to the Budget Papers “The Government will reduce the income eligibility requirement for the New Zealand stream of the Skilled Independent (subclass 189) visa (the Pathway), and promote take-up of the Pathway by eligible New Zealand citizens. Eligibility for the Pathway will be extended to Special Category (subclass 444) visa holders who have a taxable income at or above the Temporary Skilled Migrant Income Threshold for at least three of the last five income years, including the most recent year. The Government will also provide clearer public information on the Pathway, undertake an advertising campaign and contact potential applicants to promote take- up.”

Family Stream – major updates

Partner Visas: According to the Budget papers “The Government will apply the family sponsorship framework to Partner visas which will mandate character checks and the sharing of personal information as part of a mandatory sponsorship application, and subject the sponsor to enforceable sponsorship obligations. These changes will complement existing family violence provisions within the Partner visa program. The Government will introduce English language requirements for Partner visa applicants and their permanent resident sponsors. These changes will help support English language acquisition and enhance social cohesion and economic participation outcomes.”

Visa Application Charge Refunds and Waivers: According to the Budget papers, “the Government will refund or waive the visa application charge (VAC) for temporary visa holders affected by the COVID-19 travel ban. Prospective Marriage, Pacific Labour Scheme and Seasonal Worker Programme visa holders will be able to access a VAC refund. Temporary skilled workers and visitor visa holders will be eligible to have the VAC for a subsequent visa application waived, to allow them to return to Australia once travel restrictions are lifted. Working holiday makers will be eligible to have the VAC for a subsequent visa application waived, to allow them to return to Australia once travel restrictions are lifted or otherwise be able to access a VAC refund. VAC refunds and waivers will be available to current visa holders who are unable to travel until the border reopens.”

Australian Citizenship: Supporting an earlier announcement that the Citizenship test would change on 15 November 2020, the Australian Government has committed $62.8 million over 5 years to fund ‘social cohesion’ initiatives, promote Australian values, and enhance engagement with multicultural communities.

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