6 Visa Updates for 2023 You Need to Know

State-sponsored visas

Former Department of Immigration Secretary, Abul Rivzi, has said the number of visas available through the state and territories is set to dramatically increase thanks to the larger regional allocation.

One of the biggest advantages of subclass 190 and subclass 491 visas – which you may hear referred to as Australian state-sponsored visas – is not being tied to a particular employer. However, applicants must be younger than 45 years old and will have to find their own jobs.

Moreover, states and territories have been relaxing their application criteria, including increasing their skilled occupation lists, to make it easier for people to apply for state-nominated visas.

Further information on state and territory nomination requirements can be found on the Department of Home Affairs website.

Review of migration system to be delivered

According to SBS News, in 2023, three experts are expected to deliver a comprehensive review of Australia’s migration system with an interim report expected by the end of February, and a final strategy by April.

The government has also hired extra staff to help with visa processing, bringing Australia’s visa backlog, which previously had a backlog of almost one million applications, down to 600,000.

“By ramping up processing in the Department of Home Affairs and hiring over 400 extra staff, I’m proud to say that we have now processed over four million visas since coming to government,” Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs Andrew Giles said on Monday.

“This has made a huge difference to the lives of Australians re-connected with loved ones before Christmas, and to addressing the skills shortages that have affected all of us.”

Demand-driven partner and child visas

Families will be able to reunite with fewer obstacles thanks to the introduction of demand-driven partner visas.

This means there is no limit to the number of these visas issued. The department is estimating it will issue around 40,500 partner visas this financial year.

Child visas are also demand-driven with an estimated 3,000 visas expected to be issued.

New rules for skilled visa applications to be prioritised

The Australian Government is adjusting how it prioritizes skilled visa applications, with healthcare and education workers now at the top of the list. According to SBS News, the Department of Home Affairs has now stopped using its Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL) to rank skilled visa applications.

Applications are now being decided in the following order of priority:

  • Healthcare or teaching occupation applications;
  • For employer-sponsored visas, applicants nominated by an Approved sponsor with Accredited Status;
  • Those for a designated regional area;
  • For permanent and provisional visa subclasses, visa applications that count towards the migration program, excluding the subclass 188 Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) visa;
  • All other visa applications.

For all categories, priority will be given to those with eligible passports. Within each separate category, priority is given to applicants located outside Australia for provisional and permanent skilled visa applications

New visa for Pacific countries and Timor-Leste

A new visa will be introduced in July 2023 providing 3,000 places for eligible migrants from Pacific countries and Timor-Leste.

Spots for the Pacific Engagement visa (PEV) will be allocated by a ballot process each year. These visas will be offered on top of the places available on Australia’s permanent migration program.

More information will be available on the Department of Home Affairs website prior to the commencement of the visa.

Priority processing for New Zealanders

New Zealanders living in Australia will benefit from priority processing of subclass 189 Skilled Independent visa applications in the New Zealand stream.

The department has dropped certain visa requirements including that applicants must have lived in Australia for at least five years and that they meet certain taxable income thresholds as well as health criteria.

The department has stopped taking new visa applications from 10 December 2022 until 1 July 2023, in order to process the backlog already in the system.

Those granted a New Zealand stream visa will also have their citizenship pathway fast-tracked from 1 January 2023.