Visa reforms: analysis of comments from Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil

By Kristopher Kunasingam and Jordon Lee

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil touched on visa reforms in her address to the National Press Club in Canberra yesterday. Specifics were missing but the Minister recognised the need for change and announced the following:

  • from 1 July, the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold to sponsor a work visa will increase to $70,000 plus superannuation from the current $53,900. Based on the salary inflation figures over the last year, we do not foresee this to be an issue with most employers. It also restores the integrity to the program where only experienced individuals will qualify for this visa and not take away opportunities meant for Australians.
  • by the end of 2023, all temporary skilled visa holders will have a pathway to Australian Permanent Residency (PR) subject to an annual cap. Currently, only a select group of individuals have that option but Minister O'Neil seems to suggest the pathway will be available to all holders in these categories. Importantly, she did not make a distinction on the type of temporary visa (eg work, graduate) that will qualify so we will have to wait on specifics.
  • the points system currently applied in the independent skilled visa program will be reformed and extended to other permanent schemes including employer sponsored visas. No specifics were provided on how this will work and we will have further updates.
  • there has been commentary in recent times that the investor visa program will be discontinued. When asked by a reporter about this, Minister O’Neil would not confirm whether it will be discontinued, only saying she is aware there are issues within the investor visa program and she will have further updates in due course.

Overall, the announcements point in the right direction in attracting highly skilled individuals. It is largely political in nature with specifics missing and we anticipate further details will be made available prior to Budget.

We will bring those updates to you when they become apparent.


Kristopher Kunasingam

Kristopher leads the firm's migration practice. He specialises in employment-related migration to Australia.

Mark Dunphy

Mark is an employment lawyer experienced in litigious and non-litigious applications of employment and industrial relations law.

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