Following the 2016 Federal Budget announcement, the Australian Government has proposed a number of changes to visa programs affecting backpackers as well as citizens of New Zealand, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Chile and the United Arab Emirates.
Changes for citizens from India, the United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Vietnam and Chile
The Migration Institute of Australia expects that trial visa arrangements will be explored, including a visa fast-track service for migrants from India and the United Arab Emirates, and a three year multiple entry visa for Indian, Thai, Vietnamese and Chile nationals. This initiative is expected to boost Australian tourism and enable easier access to tourist visas for four years from 2016-2017.
Changes for New Zealand citizens
The Migration Institute of Australia has released a statement advising that from 1 July 2017, New Zealand citizens will be eligible for a streamed pathway to permanent residence if they were a resident in Australia on 19 February 2016 and, at the time of application, have lived in Australia for at least five years and earned an income of at least the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (currently $53,000 p.a.) over the qualifying period.
Changes for backpackers and rural or small to medium business owners
From 1 July 2016, backpackers will pay 32.5 cents in every dollar earned in Australia. The controversial ‘Backpacker Tax’ is expected to impact the agricultural industry, who rely heavily on the backpacker workforce. Due to strong backlash against this change, the Government has placed this change on hold for further review.
Other changes to Australia’s visa application processes
The Australian Government has forecasted that an increase in visa applications will significantly increase the national visa application revenue from $79.4 million to $2,027.7 million. The Government also aims to achieve efficiencies of $180 million over three years from 2017-18 through streamlining the visa and migration framework. The Australian student visa program is the first of the visa frameworks to have been revised and is now known as the Simplified Student Visa Framework (SSVF).