Integrity at the Forefront of Australia’s Migration Strategy

In late 2023, the Australian Government unveiled its strategy to reform Australia’s migration system. There are many changes planned for immigration in 2024. As details are released there seems to be a clear focus on implementing and maintaining the integrity of Australia’s migration system. This could be an indication that the federal government is cracking down on immigrants.


The Purpose of the Migration Strategy

Australia’s immigration system is complex. When the Albanese Government came into office, they conducted a review of Australia’s migration system to improve and streamline the system.


Australia’s net overseas migration (NOM) peaked at 510,000 in the 2022/23 financial year. This spike was mainly attributed to the return of international students and tourists after the easing of Covid-19 travel restrictions. The migration strategy’s goal is to reduce this figure to the pre-pandemic level of 375,000 in the 2023/24 financial year and then down to 250,000 in the 2024/25 financial year. The Australian Government deems the reduced figures are more sustainable.


How Can Migration Figures Drop So Much in That Time?

The big drop in numbers seems unrealistic but the announced migration strategy places a big emphasis on integrity. This is particularly the case for international students who were the biggest contributors to the net overseas migration figure. There were 270,000 international students in the 2022/23 financial year.


The government found that many of these international students were using their student visa as a work visa, coming to Australia with the intention of entering Australia’s temporary workforce.


To ensure that the student visa program is not being exploited, the Australian Government has implemented measures to ensure the integrity of the student visa program.


From early 2024, anyone applying for a student visa will need an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score of 6.0 (up from 5.5) or an equivalent test of English language proficiency. Temporary Graduate Visa applicants will require an IELTS score of 6.5 – an increase from the previous 6.0.


A Genuine Student Test will also be introduced in 2024 for all international students. This test will replace the existing Genuine Temporary Entrant requirement. The test aims to incentivise applications from genuine students while discouraging non-genuine students who have the intent to work rather than study in Australia.


In conjunction with these initiatives, visa applications from ‘high risk’ providers will also be more carefully scrutinised to help expose and remove unscrupulous education providers.


Those applying for a second student visa will also be more carefully scrutinised. Applicants will be required to prove that any further student visas would advance their academic aspirations or their careers.


Graduate visas will also be affected. Graduate visas will be shortened to prevent people from ‘visa hopping’ while in Australia. In addition, the eligible age for Graduate Visas will be reduced from 50 to 35 years of age and graduates will be prevented from shifting back to student visas.


Other Changes to Come

While there seems to be a big focus on student visas and the integrity issues surrounding international students, there are many other changes to occur as part of the migration strategy.


Employer-sponsored visas will see some changes with the introduction of a new four-year temporary skilled worker visa, and the Pacific Engagement visa to be introduced later in 2024. Priority processing for Protection Visa applicants will also be implemented in 2024.


Australia’s new migration strategy seeks to tackle the size and composition of Australia’s migrant intake. It places a great emphasis on integrity but also aims to achieve the goal of realigning the system towards highly skilled permanent migrants.


If you would like to learn more about the immigration changes taking place in 2024 and how they will impact you, contact the experienced team of registered migration agents at Visa Solutions Australia. Book a consultation.