What to expect from Australia’s new migration strategy in 2024

By Elly Fleming

20 December 2023

On 11 December 2023, the Australian Government released its Migration Strategy, which will overhaul the country’s migration programme over the next decade. The strategy builds on findings from the April 2023 Review of the Migration System – the first comprehensive review of Australia’s immigration system in a generation.

The new strategy introduces five core objectives that will underpin the new system:

  1. Raising living standards for Australians.
  2. Ensuring a fair go in the workplace.
  3. Building stronger Australian communities.
  4. Strengthening international relationships.
  5. Making the system work.

Here, we give a brief summary of the strategy’s broad initiatives and what can be expected in 2024.

New pathways for temporary skilled migration

The current Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa (Subclass 482) will be replaced with a four-year, pathway-to-residence Skills In Demand (SID) Visa by the end of 2024. This new visa category will give workers more ability to move between approved employers by increasing the period they have to find a new sponsor from 60 to 180 days and potentially spreading employer levies over the life of the visa. These will be welcome changes for many skilled workers seeking to migrate to Australia.

The SID Visa will have three slightly different ‘pathways.’

  • Specialist Skills Pathway: All occupations (excluding trades, machinery operators and drivers or labourers). The annual salary must be indexed to the new Specialist Skills Threshold, currently AUD$135,000 per year.
  • Core Skills Pathway: This will be the largest ‘pathway’, covering occupations on the Core Skills Occupation List. Salary must meet the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold, which is currently AUD$70,000.
  • Essential Skills Pathway: Details on this pathway are still being developed. Consultation on how this ‘pathway’ will best support lower-paid workers with essential skills is anticipated for early- to mid-2024.

All SID Visa holders will have a pathway to permanent residency and time spent working for any approved employer will count towards permanent residency requirements.

Permanent skilled migration

Details on reform to permanent skilled migration are still under development, with consultation expected in 2024.

There is a commitment to reforming the points test, and to exploring a new Talent and Innovation Visa for migrants who can drive growth in ‘sectors of national importance.’ While this new visa is being considered, no more places will be provided under the existing Business Innovation and Investment Visa.

International education system

There are a number of proposed reforms to the international education sector and student visa programme, including:

  • Introducing a new Genuine Student Test for all international students.
  • Changing the prioritisation of student visa processing based on the risk-level of education providers.
  • Increasing English language requirements for international students from early 2024, depending on their applicant category.
  • Reducing the age limit for Temporary Graduate visa applicants to under 35 (down from 50).
  • Reducing the length of Temporary Graduate visas depending on the type of degree.

Strengthen protection for visa-holding employees

Coming into effect immediately are stronger protections for visa holders. Under a ‘comprehensive suite of legislation, powers, penalties and policies’ the strategy aims to combat issues of migrant exploitation and improve the system’s overall integrity.

Many of the strategy’s announcements are still preliminary and will have to undergo consultation. Pitt & Moore will continue to monitor how these developments pan out and what they will mean for employers and skilled migrants.

Simplifying the migrant system

The Government is aiming to make the current migration system more user-friendly for Australian employers and visa applicants. There is a new commitment to remove over 20 unnecessary and duplicated visas.  

Get legal / immigration advice

If you are not sure if you have a right to enter Australia or which visa matches what you want to do in Australia, get legal/immigration advice before you travel or submit your visa application. Contact us for professional legal advice that will give you peace of mind.


brown joey on grass field

Australia: Immigration News Round-up

by Elly Fleming

27 June 2023

The past couple of months we have seen a raft of immigration related announcements by the Australian Government.  In this article we highlight the key developments to keep you updated.

Australian citizenship for New Zealanders

From 1 July 2023, there will be a direct pathway to Australian citizenship for eligible New Zealand citizens.

All Subclass 444 visa holders will be able to apply directly for citizenship, as long as they meet the four-year residence and other eligibility criteria.

This change will make it more attractive for New Zealand citizens to stay in Australia, if they are already living there, or to relocate to Australia going forward.

UK passport holders

The long awaited Australia-United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement (‘Australia-UK FTA’) came into force on 31 May 2023.

As a result of the Australia-UK FTA:

  • From 1 July 2023, UK passport holders will be able to apply for a Working Holiday visa between the ages of 18 and 35 years.
  • From 1 July 2024, UK passport holders for the first time will be eligible for up to three Working Holiday visas without having to meet any specified work requirements.
  • No Job advertising (labour market testing) will be required when Australian employers nominate UK passport holders for Subclass 482 – Temporary Skill Shortage visas.

These are significant developments which will assist both migrants and Australian employers.

Expanded pathways to permanent residence

This year the Australian Government publicly acknowledged that Australia’s migration system is one of the most complex systems in the world and is in dire need of reform.

The Australian Government has also indicated that Australia needs more migrants to address critical skills shortages and announced the following changes, which are due to come into effect by the end of 2023:

              The Temporary Residence Transition (“TRT”) stream of the Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186) visa will be available to all Temporary Skill Shortage subclass 482 visa holders whose employers wish to sponsor them;

               Applicants will need to continue to work in the occupation nominated for their Subclass 482 visas;

               Occupations eligible for TRT will not be limited to the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List;

               Eligibility for the TRT stream will be reduced from 3 years to 2 years employment with the sponsoring employer;

               Applicants will need to meet all other nomination and visa requirements for the TRT stream of the Employer Nomination Scheme visa such as English, health and character requirements;

              Limits on the number of short-term stream subclass 482 visa applications that visa holders can make while in Australia will also be removed.

These changes are welcomed by Australian employers. However, we are still waiting for the release of further details and additional changes that the Australian Government is going to make as part of the review of the Australia’s migration system.  

Get legal / immigration advice

If you are not sure if you have a right to enter Australia or which visa matches what you want to do in Australia, get legal/immigration advice before you travel or submit your visa application.

Talk to us

Contact us for professional legal advice that will give you a peace of mind.

Do I Need a Visa to Travel to Australia?

By Elly Fleming

25 May 2023

In some instances you will need more than just your plane ticket and passport to travel to Australia. It really pays to find out all of the applicable requirements and to carefully consider your options.

Australian passport holders

Australian passport holders do not need a visa to enter Australia.

If you hold Australian citizenship and reside outside of Australia, one option is to obtain your Australian passport to give you the right to enter Australia.

New Zealand passport holders

In general, New Zealand passport holders (i.e. NZ citizens) can travel to Australia without a visa and obtain a Subclass 444 – Special Category visa on arrival at the airport.

New Zealand citizens may be refused entry into Australia if they have:

  • criminal convictions resulting in at least 1 year imprisonment

  • ever been asked to leave Australia

  • been removed or deported from another country

  • have active tuberculosis (TB).

New Zealand citizens who have been deported from Australia due to their criminal conviction(s) in Australia will be permanently prohibited from coming back to Australia.

Entering Australia with a criminal record

New Zealand citizens, with any kind of criminal record, should always check if they need to apply for a visa before leaving New Zealand. Contact the Australian High Commission in Auckland well before you intend to travel to find out if you need to apply for a visa.

Australian permanent residence

New Zealand citizens who have been granted Australian permanent residence, are recommended on arrival in Australia to tell immigration clearance officers the following:

  • that you have a permanent residence visa (for example a Subclass 189 Skilled Independent visa)

  • that you do not want a Special Category visa (Subclass 444)

If you don’t tell Australian immigration clearance officers, you might be granted a Subclass 444 visa on arrival. Grant of a subclass 444 visa might affect your eligibility for:

  • permanent residency (including any Government benefits)

  • being eligible for a Resident Return Visa

  • Australian citizenship.

All other passport holders

All other passport holders need the right visa to come to Australia. They also need to get their visa before traveling to Australia. It is possible that you may need a visa to transition through Australia to another destination.

You may not be able to enter Australia if you do not meet the Australian Government’s health and character requirements.

If on a previous occasion you have overstayed your Australian visa or didn’t comply with your visa conditions, the Australian Government may not let you return to Australia for a set period of time. This is called an exclusion period.

Do your research on the right visa to apply for

There are different types of visas depending on your travel purpose and length of intended stay.

Each visa has conditions about what you can and can’t do in Australia. Having a visa to enter Australia does not automatically mean you can work, study or undertake other activities.

Applicants must make sure that they apply for the visa that matches what they want to do in Australia, and that they are eligible to apply for that particular visa.

Visitors who overstay their visas — even for a short period — may be detained and/or deported by the Australian Department of Home Affairs.

Get legal / immigration advice

If you are not sure if you have a right to enter Australia or which visa matches what you want to do in Australia, get legal/immigration advice before you travel or make your visa application.

Being refused a visa or entry to Australia can be very costly and detrimental to your immigration history.

Talk to us

Contact us for professional legal advice that will give you a peace of mind.

My Visa Application Was Refused: What can I do now?

By Elly Fleming

25 May 2023

Whether you applied for a visa to remain in, or travel to, New Zealand or Australia, when you receive a negative decision from Immigration New Zealand or the Australian Department of Home Affairs, don’t panic all may not be lost!

It really pays to find out what the available options are and to carefully consider these options.

What options are available after visa refusal?

Generally, when someone is refused a visa they may have one or more of the following options:

Lodge a fresh visa application with resolved concerns – addressing the areas that either the New Zealand or Australian immigration authorities based the refusal on. You may need to wait for your circumstances to substantially change enough to make a stronger visa application.

Sometimes, applicants attempt to submit a new visa application at a different location in the belief that this would make it successful. This is never guaranteed, particularly since immigration authorities have access to the same online systems, with alerts and intelligence sharing capabilities.

We don’t recommend rushing into a fresh visa application, small investment in advice on how you can present a stronger application could improve your chances of success and give you a peace of mind.

Seek reconsideration of your visa application – in some instances, applicants may be eligible for the immigration authorities to reconsider their visa application. Usually, you would need to satisfy a number of conditions to be able to take up this option, including submitting your request for reconsideration within a specific time limit.

It is important to seek informed advice as soon as possible, particularly regarding your immigration status and prospects of success.

Lodge a complaint – if you believe that the immigration authorities failed to follow their own processes or that there was improper conduct on the part of an immigration official assessing your application, a complaint can be submitted. Please note if you are not satisfied with a decision made but can’t point to any process failures it’s unlikely that your complaint will be investigated.

Complaints can be submitted online to either Immigration New Zealand or the Australian Department of Home Affairs.

Submit an appeal to the Immigration & Protection Tribunal (related to New Zealand visas)

In certain instances, it may be possible to lodge an appeal with the Immigration & Protection Tribunal. There are several different types of appeals. Each has its own form to fill out and usually a fee is payable.

You can appeal each Immigration New Zealand decision only once. The Tribunal cannot accept an appeal if you have no right of appeal. Time is critical, as there is a set period within which appeals must be lodged.

It is important to seek professional advice and assistance as soon as possible, particularly regarding your right to appeal and prospects of success.

Submit an appeal to the Administrative Appeal Tribunal (related to Australian visas)

The Australian Administrative Appeal Tribunal (AAT) reviews a range of migration and refugee visa decisions made by the Minister for Immigration, or by immigration officers of the Department of Home Affairs.

If you think that you received a decision that is wrong, you may be able to apply to the AAT for review of that decision.

Whenever a decision is made that is reviewable by the AAT, the Department of Home Affairs is required by law to advise the persons involved of their review rights. This includes setting out who can apply for review, where an application can be made and the time limit within which the application must be made.

It is imperative that when you receive a decision from the Department of Home Affairs that you consider the information about your review rights carefully and consult a professional as soon as possible. Generally, the AAT does not have discretion to accept an appeal that is lodged outside the relevant time limit or by a person who is not entitled to apply for review.

What is the best option in my circumstances?

The most suitable option will depend on your personal circumstances, including your current visa status; whether you are onshore or offshore; whether you still have time remaining on your current visa or whether you are unlawful; and of course, on your resources, whether you can afford to pay for an appeal to the Tribunal or for a new visa application.

Talk to us

For further advice on most suitable options in your personal circumstances, talk to Elly Fleming, Associate, Pitt & Moore Lawyers.

map of Australia

Australian Visa Applications: Fee Increases from 1 July 2023

By Elly Fleming

25 May 2023

The 2023-24 Federal Budget for the Australian Government, handed down on the 9th of May, has forecast the following increases in visa application charges from 1 July 2023:

  • Visitor, working holiday, work and holiday, training, temporary activity and temporary work (short stay specialist) visas will increase by 15%;
  • Business innovation and investment visas will increase by 40%;
  • Other visas (apart from Pacific Engagement visa and Pacific Australia Labour Mobility Visas) will increase by 6%.

These increases will apply to applications lodged on or after 1 July 2023. To avoid increased costs where possible it’s advisable to lodge visa applications prior to 1 July 2023.

Get legal / immigration advice

If you are not sure if you have a right to enter Australia or which visa matches what you want to do in Australia, get legal/immigration advice before you travel or submit your visa application.

Being refused a visa or entry to Australia can be very costly and detrimental to your immigration history.

Talk to us

Contact us for professional legal advice that will give you a peace of mind.

Waiting for accreditation. Waiting for workers.

By Elly Fleming

4 July 2022

It’s happening, and yet it’s not happening.

The new Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) comes into effect today but many current or prospective employees can’t apply for them.

That is because they are still waiting for their employer’s application for accreditation under the new scheme to be approved. It’s not a step that can be skipped, as I mentioned in my April blog about the complexities of the AEWV process.  So employers and employees are waiting and their frustration is understandable.

The AEWV replaces several former visas, including the Essential Skills Work Visa and Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa. Applications for AEWV employer accreditation opened on 23 May and many employers were quick off the mark, getting their applications in. We have been blogging about the immigration law changes throughout this year and the last as the border rules have changed through the pandemic.  We really wanted to have a more positive story to talk about on the first day of the AEWV, but on the day that accreditation needs to be in place so they can start recruiting, many employers are still waiting.

Pitt & Moore advisors can explain the rules exactly as they apply to you and your business, so please contact us for some expert navigation and advice.

Stuck in the starting gate

Some applications are still stuck in the starting gate – yet to be allocated for assessment. Many businesses have not heard back from Immigration New Zealand (INZ) at all.

We hoped INZ would have had the capacity to get through all the applications and address their system issues. Unfortunately, the potential backlog and lack of resourcing we warned employers about months ago is proving a reality.

New Zealand – a nice place if you can get in

This isn’t just a problem for an individual employer who is stuck checking their email every day to see if INZ have progressed their application.

I worry that this situation is turning off skilled people coming to New Zealand, just when we need them. People might now be allowed to apply for jobs here, but first they need to find an accredited employer.

Even those employers captured as part of the ‘Green List’ sectors, who can give migrants additional incentives, are finding it very difficult to recruit – there just aren’t the workers out there globally. And our country’s reputation overseas is increasingly one of being ‘hard to get into’. This is what we are hearing from migrants who have been enquiring about visas.

Good intentions aren’t enough

There are good intentions behind the AEWV but the roll-out is just not practical.

Migrant workers’ wellbeing and success are important to employers. And yes, we all want a skilled local workforce.

But the Government has not allowed enough time to upskill people. It takes five years to train as a pharmacist, as one example. It takes even longer to improve the country’s productivity so businesses can afford to increase wages.

Beyond businesses

It has been widely reported that some sectors are facing extreme worker shortages. We are hearing it first-hand ourselves at Pitt & Moore where people are telling us that they are getting desperate for workers. There are restaurants with no chefs, engineering firms with no engineers and pharmacies with no pharmacists.

The effects of increased bureaucracy, worker shortages and struggling businesses flow through to the consumer. We should all be bracing ourselves for more expensive goods and services over the coming few years.

The cost of living continues to increase, and I have no doubt that businesses will need to pass on the cost of accreditation at some point too, especially as the administration and compliance required is ongoing. We need to get ready for that, be it in the restaurant, at the doctor’s or at the building site.

Talk to us

If you are unsure of how this complex raft of new immigration rules applies to you, your accreditation application or recruitment plans and processes, we can help.

We offer an initial 15-minute free consultation to all new clients to discuss your particular circumstances and what services we can provide.

What sets us apart is that we are experts in each step of the immigration process as well as in employment law. This means that we can advise on all immigration, employment and visa-related issues.

Immigration visa job check rule

The new employer-led visa rules: A closer look at the Job Check step

By Heather Collins

22 June 2022

In our last blog post about the new Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) criteria my colleague Elly Fleming put the spotlight on several downsides to the criteria that employers need to know about. These included aspects that flew very much under the radar and did not feature in the first wave of media coverage and commentary after the Government’s 11 May announcement.

In this post, I will focus on the ‘job check’ step of the new three-check employer-led system. In order of sequence, the checks are:

  1. Employer accreditation: Applications opened on 23 May 2022
  2. Job check: Applications open on 20 June
  3. AEWV application (by migrants): Open from 4 July

To put this ‘one step’ into context, I’ll remind readers that from 2023 all employers will need accreditation before they can recruit and hire migrants. This major policy change to include all employers is contrary to previous messaging from Immigration NZ and the Government before the May announcements.  It will have significant implications for employers across all industries.

Generally, the AEWV is a shift from a migrant-led to an employer-led 3-step system. And if you’re an employer who had never had to deal with Immigration New Zealand (INZ), prepare to do so. As Elly described in her recent analysis for Radio NZ, you will have to decide whether it’s worthwhile for you to undertake an onerous process to obtain accreditation and then be subject to additional scrutiny from the government.

Pitt & Moore advisors can explain the rules exactly as they apply to you and your business, so please contact us for some expert navigation and advice.

Preparing for the job check step

Before the job check step you might need to adequately advertise the job in New Zealand first for at least two weeks to test the market and satisfy INZ that there are no suitable New Zealanders available for your job. You can skip this step if your job pays at least twice the NZ median wage or is an occupation on the Green List.

Applied for accreditation? Well done, but get ready for more

Once you have accreditation you must apply for the job check, providing an acceptable job offer, position description, employment agreement (contract) and the results of any advertising you had to do.

INZ are hopeful that the check will take no more than 10 working days to process. But we anticipate that visa processing timeframes will blow out across the board as officials struggle to cope with the volume in the coming months. There’s also a further application fee – the job check will cost you $610.

A sticking point for partners

If you pass the job check you can offer your job, and then it’s over to your hopeful new recruit to successfully apply for an AEWV.

This is where one of the new rules that has not been widely publicised comes into play.  Previously the holder of work visa could generally sponsor their partner for a partnership-based open work visa.

From December this year however, partners of AEWV applicants, whose occupations are not on the Green List or who are not earning at least twice the median wage in other roles, will not be entitled to an open partnership-based work visa but will need to qualify for an AEWV or an alternative temporary work visa in their own right. 

Rewind…still stuck on the first step?

Going right back to the start, you need to be accredited before you can even dream of how much better your business will be without those staff shortages.

The accreditation criteria will rule out a number of businesses and dissuade others from even trying to get accreditation, as Elly describes the criteria in her April blog – and it might feel like a lot to take on.

Talk to us

If you are unsure of how this complex raft of new rules applies to you, your accreditation application or recruitment plans and processes, we can help.

We offer an initial 15-minute free consultation to all new clients to discuss your particular circumstances and what services we can provide.

What sets us apart is that we are experts in each step of the immigration process as well as in employment law. This means that we can advise on all immigration, employment and visa-related issues.

Do I Need a Visa to Travel to New Zealand?

By Elly Fleming

25 May 2023

New Zealand is a popular holiday destination, coveted for its stunning scenery and friendly Kiwi hospitality. However, these days many people will need more than just their plane ticket and passport to travel to New Zealand. It really pays to find out the visa requirements in advance.

Currently, if you are coming to New Zealand for a short holiday, depending on where you are from, you may not need to apply for and be granted a Visitor Visa before you travel, but you would need to hold an Electronic Travel Authority (‘ETA’).

At present, all citizens of 60 Visa Waiver countries and all cruise travellers, need to hold an ETA before travelling to New Zealand. An ETA is valid for up to 2 years and requests costs from NZD $17.

This doesn’t mean that all ETA holders will be allowed to stay in New Zealand for 2 years at a time. The maximum periods of stay per visit will depend on the country of citizenship.

New Zealand passport holders

New Zealand passport holders do not need a visa to enter New Zealand.

If you hold New Zealand citizenship and reside outside of New Zealand, one option is for you to obtain your New Zealand passport to give you the right to enter New Zealand.

New Zealand citizens, provided they travel on their New Zealand passports, will continue to be able to enter New Zealand without an ETA.

New Zealand visa holders

Holders of valid New Zealand visas (both resident and temporary visas) are able to travel to New Zealand as per their travel conditions.

Holders of valid New Zealand visas, both resident visas and temporary visas, will continue to be able to enter New Zealand without an ETA.

We recommend that you always check the travel conditions attached to your visa to make sure you are not caught out.

Australian passport holders

Generally, Australian passport holders can travel to New Zealand without a visa and obtain a special Australian Resident Visa upon arrival, giving them a right to indefinitely live, work or study in New Zealand.

Australian citizens may be refused entry into New Zealand if they are not of ‘good character’.

As an Australian citizen, you may need to apply for a visa prior to traveling to New Zealand if you have:

  • served time in prison

  • been deported, removed or excluded from any country

  • been involved in criminal or terrorist groups

  • have been refused entry to New Zealand on a prior occasion.

People who may be considered a risk to New Zealand’s security, public order or public interest can be refused entry to New Zealand at the border or be stopped from travelling to New Zealand at check-in.

If you aren’t sure whether you will meet New Zealand’s requirements for good character, we recommend that you seek legal advice before trying to travel to New Zealand.

Australian permanent resident visa holders

Travellers need to ensure that their Australian permanent resident visa is linked to or associated with their current passport.

If an Australian permanent resident has obtained a new passport, and not transferred their Australian visa to that passport, they may not be able to travel to New Zealand.

Australian permanent residents need to hold an ETA before travelling to New Zealand.

An ETA will not be issued if the applicant does not meet the good character requirements.

If you aren’t sure whether you will meet New Zealand’s requirements for good character, we recommend that you seek legal advice before trying to travel to New Zealand.

United Kingdom passport holders

UK passport holders will need to hold an ETA before travelling to New Zealand.

An ETA will not be issued if the applicant does not meet the good character or heath requirements.

Who must apply for a visitor visa prior to arriving in New Zealand

Generally, travellers need to apply for and be granted a visitor visa before boarding the plane for New Zealand, if any of the following apply:

  • You have been refused entry to New Zealand on a prior occasion;

  • You don’t hold a passport from a ‘Visa Waiver’ country as specified by Immigration New Zealand (see full list of countries here);

  • You want to visit for more than 3 months (or 6 months if you’re from the United Kingdom);

  • You have a criminal record;

  • You have health problems that could be a danger to public health or be expensive for New Zealand’s health services.

Get legal / immigration advice

If you are not sure if you have a right to enter New Zealand or which visa matches what you want to do in New Zealand, get legal/immigration advice before you travel or make your visa application to Immigration New Zealand.

Being refused a visa or entry to New Zealand can be very costly and detrimental to your immigration history.

Talk to us

Contact us for professional legal advice that will give you a peace of mind.

Talk to Elly Fleming, Associate, Pitt & Moore Lawyers.