Immigration and Citizenship Programs – Effects of COVID-19

Note – This post is a continuation of the earlier post that sheds some light on the administration of the immigration programme in Australia. You can read the earlier post here
Australia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant and ongoing impact on the administration of immigration programs. Since 1 February 2020, based on the advice of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, and much like the rest of the world, the Australian Government has implemented travel restrictions and exemptions designed to curb the introduction and spread of COVID-19 in Australia while allowing travel into and out of Australia to continue for essential reasons.
The pandemic has significantly reduced the demand for most visas. In 2020-21, the number of visa applications lodged fell by nearly 81 per cent (6 million) compared to the previous year


Temporary measures in response to COVID-19

The Government has introduced temporary visa arrangements in response to COVID-19. These arrangements – to support public health measures, protect the health of the community, safeguard jobs for Australians, support critical sectors, and assist with economic recovery – include:
– the creation of a COVID-19 Pandemic event visa through the Subclass 408 (Temporary  Activity) visa to assist to regularise the visa status of individuals in Australia working in critical sectors such as health, aged and disability care, childcare, agriculture and food processing and those who have no other visa options and are unable to depart Australia due to COVID-19 travel limitations
– the introduction of the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL) to facilitate the migration of people with critical skills through employer-sponsored visa programs. Read the post here
– strengthened labour market testing for employer-sponsored visa applications
– relaxation of the 40 hours per fortnight working hours for international students working in critical sectors 
– exempting Working Holiday Makers from the six-month work limitation with one employer if working in a critical sector.


As Australia’s international borders re-open, temporary and permanent migration will continue to play a critical role in the economic recovery from the pandemic with migrants filling growing skill and labour shortages in metropolitan and regional Australia and rebuilding important sectors such as international education and tourism.
In the longer term, it is expected that the Net Overseas Migration (NOM) will account for around 74 per cent of Australia’s population growth by 2060-61. In the shorter term though, the forecast for 2021-22 is that the NOM will not return to pre-COVID levels until 2023-24.
Note 1 – According to the Treasury’s mid-year economic update, released in December 2021, which shows while net overseas migration was forecast to be around minus 41,000 people in 2021-22, it is expected to climb to 180,000 people in 2022-23 (that’s double the previous estimate). 
Note 2 – Australia’s migration program is set annually and runs from 1 July to 30 June each financial year. The 2024-25 forecast remains at 235,000 people.
Useful Links
1) SBS, Australia’s national news channel offers one of the most up to date and relevant information regarding immigration. You can find the link here
2) Always refer to official government websites when doing your research. The Department of Home Affairs provides a range of useful information and links to assist people seeking migration or visa-related information. You can find the link here

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Further Reading

For migration guidance and all the latest news always refer to the government website and authorised channels. Visit Department of Home Affairs for more information.

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