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Australia plans to cut immigration intake in half and tighten student visa rules

File photo: People cross a street in the city centre following further easing of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions in Sydney, Australia, December 10, 2020. REUTERS/Loren Elliott
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Australia on Monday announced stricter visa requirements for international students and low-skilled workers, potentially cutting immigration intake in half over the next two years as the government seeks to overhaul its “broken” immigration system.

Under the new guidelines, international students will be required to score higher on English language tests, their second visa applications will be subject to more rigorous scrutiny and their length of stay will be extended.

“Our strategy will bring migration numbers back to normal,” Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said during a media briefing.

“But it’s not just about numbers. It’s not just about this moment and the experience of migration our country is having at this time. This is about Australia’s future.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese over the weekend said Australia’s migration numbers needed to be wound back to a “sustainable level,” adding that “the system is broken.”

O’Neil said the government’s targeted reforms were already putting downward pressure on net overseas migration and will further contribute to an expected decline in migrant numbers.

The decision comes after net immigration was expected to have peaked at a record 510,000 in 2022-23. Official data showed it was forecast to fall to about a quarter of a million in 2024-25 and 2025-26, roughly in line with pre-COVID levels.

O’Neil said the increase in net overseas migration in 2022-23 was mostly driven by international students.


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Shares of IDP Education (IEL.AX), which provides placement and education services to international students, were down more than 3% in afternoon trade.

Australia boosted its annual migration numbers last year to help businesses recruit staff to fill shortages after the COVID-19 pandemic brought strict border controls, and kept foreign students and workers out for nearly two years.

But the sudden influx of foreign workers and students has exacerbated pressure on an already tight rental market, with homelessness on the rise in the country.

A survey done for the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper on Monday said 62% of Australian voters said the country’s migration intake was too high.

Long reliant on immigration to supply what is now one of the tightest labour markets in the world, Australia’s Labor government has pushed to speed up the entry of highly skilled workers and smooth their path to permanent residency.

A new specialist visa for highly skilled workers will be set up with the processing time set at one week, helping businesses recruit top migrants amid tough competition with other developed economies.

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Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury

Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury is the Editor of The Daily Dazzling Dawn. Previously, he has been serving in important positions in all the famous national dailies of the Bangladesh since the nineties. He has played a commendable role in journalism by participating in various events at the national and international levels. United Nations Conference, World Climate Conference, SAARC Summit are notable among them.

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