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Go Back to the List May 12, 2021
Delivering his second pandemic Budget, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg declared that migration planning levels for 2021-22 will remain unchanged with a focus on onshore visa applicants as international borders will remain closed for at least 12 months.

Taking a cautious approach amidst COVID-induced restrictions, the Morrison government announced it will maintain its planned ceiling for the 2021-22 Migration Program at 160,000 places.  

“Australia’s effective management of COVID makes us an even more attractive place for the best and brightest from around the world,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said in Parliament while delivering this year's Budget.

“To take advantage of this, we are streamlining visas to target highly-skilled individuals when circumstances allow."


  • Migration planning levels will remain the same as last year at 160,000
  • Focus on onshore skilled migrants, special consideration for parent visa 
  • International students working in hospitality and tourism sector no longer face a cap on working hours 

'A ceiling, not a target’

These planning levels include 79,600 skill and 77,300 family stream places, a measure that the government says, is “appropriate” for the current health and economic circumstances.

“Family and Skilled stream places will be maintained at their 2020-21 planning levels, with a continued focus on onshore visa applicants, including reducing the onshore Partner visa pipeline,” the Budget document states.

'This is the fastest way to get permanent residency in Australia'

The government has also decided to maintain the Humanitarian Program at 13,750 places.

“The Humanitarian Program will be maintained at 13,750 places in 2021-22 and over the forward estimates, and the size of the program will remain as a ceiling rather than a target,” the Budget document reveals.

Melbourne-based migration agent Navjot Kailay says that tonight’s announcements indicate that the government’s plans for migration in the next year are largely based on “heroic assumptions”.

“There are so many factors and parameters that need to be met, including the vaccine rollout and crucial decisions like reopening Australia’s international borders to skilled migrants,” he told SBS Punjabi.

“Everything in the next program year for migration would depend upon the success of the COVID-19 vaccination strategy, the number of new COVID cases and a safe quarantine program — one that can accommodate more returning international arrivals, including skilled migrants and international students,” Mr Kailay added.

Impact on Skilled Migration

In context of visas, the Budget document states that the government will continue to prioritise Employer-Sponsored, Global Talent, Business Innovation and Investment Program visas within the Skilled Stream.

“The priority remains the same as last year when the government had tripled the allocation of the Global Talent Independent (GTI) Program to 15,000 places, which was a massive increase from the previous program year’s planning levels, as part of which, only 5,000 places had been granted. So, overall there will be no major change in the Skilled Stream,” explained Mr Kailay.

Phased return of international students

According to Budget Paper No 1, a key assumption in its economic forecast is that international students will only be able to return to the country as part of “small phased programs” later this year and student numbers will only “gradually increase” from 2022.

Flexibility for student visa holders

In yet another important announcement impacting foreign students, the government has provided flexibility to student visa holders in the hospitality and tourism sectors to work beyond the current 40 hours-per-fortnight limit, as they have been severely impacted by COVID-19 restrictions.

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