Recently it was indicated that Australian borders may continue to be closed well into 2021. The CEO of Qantas, Alan Joyce, has said that the airline's international flights will likely not resume until July 2021. This means that most migration to Australia will be on hold until borders reopen.
What is also evident, during the COVID-19 pandemic, is that an unusually high number of Australians may have lost their jobs during the pandemic. This will have an impact on Australia’s skilled migration program. Just how this will play out is yet to be revealed, but there will definitely be a change in those occupations available on the skilled migration lists and the number of points required to be eligible for skilled migration.
Future growth areas
The department is likely to prioritise nursing and other healthcare professions and remove those occupations which are not in demand. It is also possible that employers will drive the demand for migrants, and skilled independent visas will become even more difficult to attain.
Another potential growth area is in the regional areas. There is a need for migrants to move to regional Australia where certain skills are lacking. Currently each state prioritises those skills it needs in its regional area. Each state invites applicants to apply directly for a visa to live in regional Australia.
Where does this leave future visa applicants?
The Department of Home Affairs is still open to receiving applications from prospective migrants. What has changed recently, however, is the priority that the department is giving to new offshore applications.
Currently the department has prioritised the processing of applications from people onshore in Australia.
The department’s major priority is to ensure that people who are stranded in Australia do not become unlawful. It has both introduced a new visa to address this situation and has relaxed certain visa conditions to allow onshore applicants to remain lawful.
It is still possible, however, to apply for new visas. What has changed is the processing times. Getting your application in, places you in the queue, ready for when processing resumes.
There is a large amount of work which goes into an application even before it can be lodged with the department. There are many requirements which must be met at the time of application, from skills assessments to English test scores. It is possible to sort these out now, while waiting for Australia to reopen its doors.
What visas are your best option
If you are in a genuine and ongoing relationship with an Australian citizen or permanent resident, you may be eligible for a partner visa. These can be applied for either onshore or offshore. There are no age limits or skill requirements, and, under the right circumstances, these may be the most direct route into Australia.
Employer Sponsored Visas
Applicants who have job offers from employers can be sponsored for a visa. Employer will need to show that there isn’t an Australian available to fill the position, before they are able to sponsor you. These jobs may be located in either the major cities or regional areas, though the regional areas tend to have the most vacancies for skilled positions
There are Business visa options, but these do require that you:
• Be under age 55
• Have a successful business track record
• Have a business turnover of at least AU$500 000 p/a for at least 2 out of last 4 years
• Have at least net assets of AU$800 000
Student visas are a popular choice as they offer the option of studying at a world class university, with the added bonus of work rights, while you study. Although the global pandemic has slowed down this market, it will be re-opening and universities are keen to enrol new students.
Once you have completed your 2 years of full-time study at a Bachelors or Masters degree level, you may be eligible for a post-study work visa, for a further 2 years. This may lead to a permanent work offer and employer sponsorship for permanent residence.