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Australia’s Migration Cap Could be Increased, Says Government

*Update as of 2 September 2022: Australia’s migration cap will be increased for 2022-23. To stay informed on migration news and updates, consult the Department of Home Affairs website.

Settling down permanently in Australia could be made easier for international students in the very near future. The Labor Government has announced potential plans to increase migration intake to help tackle the extreme shortage of skilled workers in the country. 

The current annual migration cap sits at 160,000, but reports have suggested it could be raised to 180,000, or as high as 200,000.

The announcement comes ahead of the Australian Government’s upcoming Jobs and Skills Summit, where the skilled worker shortage will be a key issue of discussion. 

According to a quarterly report by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), there were 480,100 job vacancies in Australia in May 2022. This was more than double the job vacancies from February 2020, prior to Australia closing its international borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Business groups have also raised concerns about a shortfall of skilled workers in critical industries amid historically low unemployment rates. Namely, the Business Council of Australia expressed its support for an overhaul of the country’s skilled migration system. 

“We need to move from a short-term, ad hoc system to long-term planned migration with a focus on four-year visas, pathways to permanent migration, and future planning of our population growth,” said the council’s chief executive, Jennifer Westacott. “We want to see a catch-up boost to the permanent migration program, with at least two-thirds of places for skilled workers.”

Westacott also urged the government to address the backlog of current visa approvals. This has also been a topic of high concern, particularly for the skilled migrant workers affected by the delays.

Many of these South Australia-based skilled migrants have become so affected that they took to the streets of Adelaide over the weekend to protest the backlogged visas. On Sunday 14 August 2022, protestors gathered on the steps of Adelaide’s Parliament House, urging the Federal Government to fast-track their permanent residency visas. In a tweet from 7News Adelaide, the news outlet mentioned that some applications from September 2020 are still being assessed.

Read more: How Long Will it Take to Get My Visa? Understanding Australia’s Visa Processing Delays