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Budget 2025 Immigration Headlines

By 14 May, 2024No Comments9 min read

budget 2025 immigration headlines

On 14 May 2024, the Albanese government released their 2024/25 budget. While there are various “ancillary” migration-related measures, the below is a summary of some of key budget takeaways as they relate to immigration, and outlined in further detail below:

  1. net overseas migration projected to be 395,000 (down from 528,000 last year);
  2. 185,000 permanent spots for 2024/25 with 70% going to skilled workers (balance for family, humanitarian). The Migration Planning levels also released here;
  3. planning horizon to increase from 1 to 4 years;
  4. new “National Innovation” visa to replace the Global Talent visa from late 2024, targeting exceptionally talented migrants;
  5. Business Innovation and Investment (BIIP) visa to cease;
  6. TSS (Subclass 482) visa work experience requirement to decrease from 2 years to 1 year from 23 November 2024 onwards;
  7. $1 billion over 5 years to establish/support the new Administrative Reviews Tribunal (replacing the AAT) and $115.6 million over 4 years to address federal court backlogs from judicial review of migration decisions (establishing two migration hubs – one for refugee, one for migration);
  8. MATES program for Indian nationals to start from 1 November 2024; and
  9. a ballot for Work and Holiday visas from China, Vietnam and India.

Reduction in net overseas migration

Net overseas migration has been a highly topical issue as Australian grapples with cost of living pressures and inflation.

In 2022-23, net overseas migration was 528,000 which represented a significant increase over prior years. This increase was in part due to international students returning to Australia, following years of COVID-19 related border closures, and foreign nationals entering in work visas.

For 2023-24, net overseas migration is forecasted to be 395,000 before reducing further to 260,000 and 255,000 for the 2024-25 and 2025-26 years respectively, and stabilising at around 235,000 for the 2026-27 and 2027-28 years.

Permanent migration spots

The Department have set the 2024-25 permanent migration program planning level at 185,000 spots. This is a slight decrease from 190,000 spots for the current (2023-24) program year.

Of this allocation 132,200 (70%) will be allocated to the “Skilled” stream, as with the current year. The balance will go to family visas (Partner, Parent, Child etc.) and humanitarian visas.

The 2024-25 Planning levels have also since been released, which notably includes:

  • 44,000 for employer sponsored (increased from 36,825 the year before – presumably due to all “short-term” TSS visa holders now having pathways to PR);
  • 16,900 for the Skilled Independent (significant drop from 30,375);
  • 33,000 each for State/Territory Nominated and Regional, slight increase from prior years;
  • 4,000 for Global Talent Independent program (slight decrease from 5,000 the year prior); and
  • Family visas staying the same as prior year setting.

Planning Horizon Increase

The planning horizon for the permanent migration program will be increased from 1 year to 4 years. The migration program is typically outlined in the budget each year, and the figures (as set out above) set then, this expands the consideration to 4 years.

This is a significant change which recognises that migration is a setting that needs to be considered with a long-term focus to achieve long-term objectives. It also helps governments with appropriate future planning.

Practically, this will also lead to improved certainty for migrants in terms of visa programs remaining consistent, and not liable to change each year.

An area that would greatly benefit from this in particular is Australia’s General Skilled Migration (GSM) program, which has suffered from significant changes over the past few years, and in particular, State/Territory nomination. As the Federal Government sets the GSM allocations each year, they similarly set the State/Territory nominations each year, which can cause the criteria to change annually.

National Innovation visa (replacing Global Talent visa)

A new National Innovation visa will be implemented replacing the current Global Talent (Subclass 858) visa in late 2024. The purpose of which will be to target exceptionally talented migrants who will drive growth in sectors of national importance.

It’s unclear if this will be an entire re-design, or simply “re-branding” the Global Talent visa under the two streams (“Global Talent Independent” stream and “Distinguished Talent” stream), and potentially incorporating elements of the Business Innovation and Investment Program (BIIP) which will be closing (below).

What will happen to existing or ongoing Global Talent visa applications?

There are no present indications yet as to what will happen to ongoing applications. It’s likely that the Department will simply stop accepting new applications from the implementation date, process existing applications and request new applicants to apply for the new National Innovation visa.

Closure of Business Innovation and Investment Program (BIIP)

The Business Innovation and Investment Program (BIIP) will cease. This has been a controversial program which was aimed at targeting business owners who wished to start a business in Australia, or high net work individuals seeking to invest in Australia ($2.5M or $5M – known colloquially as a “golden visa”).

The Department have indicated that they will offer refunds to BIIP applicants, however it’s not clear from this implication whether:

  1. they will be discontinuing all BIIP visa applications and issuing refunds; or
  2. they are simply offering the ability for BIIP applicants to discontinue their applications and get a refund – applicants cannot ordinarily receive a refund for changing their mind about an application and no longer wishing to proceed.

As some BIIP applications have been ongoing for 2-3 years, it may be a measure to refund these applicants and allow them to move on.

TSS visa – Work Experience Reduction

When the TSS visa was first introduced, it carried a criterion for the applicant to have at least two years of full-time work experience in their nominated occupation (the prior 457 visa that it replaced had no such condition – allowing even fresh graduates to apply).

This two-year work experience criteria will be reduced to one year from 23 November 2024 onwards.

Funding for ART and Federal Court

The new Administrative Review Tribunal (ART) is likely to be set up shortly following the passage of legislation, replacing the existing Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).

$1 billion has been allocated over 5 years (with $210.8 million per year from 2028-29, and $194.2 million from 2028-29 through to 2035-36) to establish and support the operation of the new ART.

The aim is to establish a capped, flexible demand-driven funding model for the ART to enable it to finalise 100% of case lodgement per year.

$115.6 million will also be provided over 4 years to address the high migration backlogs in the federal courts. This will be achieved via the establishment of two migration hubs dedicated to hearing migration and protection matters.

MATES Program

The government will implement the Mobility Arrangement for Talented Early-professionals Scheme (MATES) program for Indian nationals from 1 November 2024. This program is part of the Australian-India Migration and Mobility Partnership Arrangement (MMPA).

Under the MATES program, 3,000 Indian graduates and early career professionals (aged 18-30 at the time of application) with knowledge/skills in targeted fields of study will be able to obtain two-year visas to Australia.

The program appears to be via a ballot ($25 to enter), following which if selected an application charge of $365 will apply.

It’s possible that this will be a stream of the Subclass 403 visa, though that remains to be seen.

Additionally, as part of the MMPA, the government will also increase the validity of Visitor (Subclass 600) visas under the “Business Visitor” stream for Indian nationals from 3 to 5 years. This effectively allows Indian nationals the ability to travel in and out of Australia for a longer period, without having to apply for a new visa again.

Ballot for Work and Holiday visas

A ballot process is to be introduced for nationals of China, India and Vietnam. As there are limited spots available, these are in high demand so the introduction of a ballot has been made to make it more equitable.


There are other ancillary related budget measures, including $100 million to support core functions of the Australian Border Force operations, including immigration compliance activities (and sustaining these critical systems).

This potentially relates to further ability for the Department to undertake compliance activities such as policing worker exploitation or undertaking audits of companies.

There is also expected to be an undisclosed amount of additional funding to improve security at the Yongah Hill Immigration Detention Centre.

Further funding will be given in two tranches, being:

  • $15 million over 3 years for information and education activities to assist migrant workers with understanding workplace safeguards, protections and compliances measures; and
  • $1.9 million to conduct a data-matching pilot between the Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Tax Office (ATO) of income and employment data to mitigate exploitation of migrant workers.

Funding is available to implement an upgraded tech solution for the assessment of trades by Trades Recognition Australia (TRA).

Further we are likely to see a slight increase in:

  • Visa lodgement fees (typically in line with CPI); and
  • the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) – being the minimum salary for TSS Subclass 482 visas.

Any questions?

Hannan Tew Lawyers are consistently across the Immigration space. One of our founding Partners, Jordan Tew, is currently the co-chair of the Migration Law Subcommittee of the Law Institute of Victoria, which involves advocacy and making submissions on behalf of the migration industry to the Law Council of Australia, and Federal and State governments.

Separately, our firm is regularly involved in assisting corporate clients with advocacy, including on submissions regarding occupation lists, and workforce shortages.

If you need legal assistance or have an immigration related query, get in touch with our experienced team. Contact us by email at [email protected] or by phone at +61 3 9016 0484.

This document does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Please consult an immigration professional for up to date information.
Jordan Tew

Author Jordan Tew

Jordan is one of less than 50 lawyers who are Accredited Specialists in Immigration Law by the Law Institute of Victoria, and less than 100 nationally. Accredited Specialists undergo a vigorous assessment process, and make up about 1% of all registered migration agents.

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