Federal Budget 2023/24 – Summary of Australian Immigration Changes

The Commonwealth Treasurer, Dr Jim Chalmers handed down Australia’s 2023–2024 Federal Budget on 9 May 2023. In respect of migration-related measures or policies, there has been no surprise as most of the measures had already been revealed over the past few weeks through either media interviews or announcements. Here are the highlight of the major changes: 

Focus on permanent skills migration

The budget confirms that 72% (or 137,100 places) will allocate to skilled migration to ensure that Australia has access to skilled migrants in the light of increasing global competition for talent. The remaining 28% (or 52,500 places) will be allocated to family stream visa, such as child or parent visas which are demand driven and not subject to a ceiling. 

Here is the breakdown of the migration program planning levels as part of the 2023/24 and 2022/23 Budgets respectively.

Visa StreamVisa Category2023-24 Planning levels2022-23 Planning levels Changes
SkillEmployer Sponsored36,82535,0001,825 (5.21%)
Skilled Independent30,37532,100-1,725 (-5.37%)
Regional32,30034,000-1,700 (-5%)
State/Territory Nominated30,40031,000 -600 (-1.94%)
Business Innovation & Investment1,9005,000-3,100 (-62%)
Global Talent (Independent)5,0005,000
Distinguished Talent300300
Skill Total137,100142,4005,300 (-3.72%)
Other Family500500
Family Total52,50052,500
Special Eligibility400100300 (300%)
Total Migration Program190,000195,000-5,000 (-2.56%)
Source: Department of Home Affairs 

Extending the work rights of Temporary Graduate visa holders (SC-485) with select degrees for two years 

With effective from 1 July 2023, the SC-485 visa holders with select degree will be eligible for an extra two years of post-study work rights to ease the skilled labour shortage in key sectors. 

Reinstating work hour cap for international students 

The work hour cap for international student visa holders will be reinstated from 1 July 2023. However, the work limit will be increased by 8 hours per from pre-pandemic levels to 48 hours per fortnight. With the exemption for students who are working in the aged care sector, the cap hour limit of 48-hour per fortnight work limit will not be in-forced until 31 December 2023.

Increasing the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) to $70,000

The TSMIT has not been adjusted for almost ten years. The raised from the current rate of $53,900 to $70,000 from 1 July 2023 in order to attract more skilled migrants who complement the skills of the Australian workforce and increase the fairness for both foreign migrants and Australian workers. 

Improving Skills Recognition 

In a bid to improve the skill recognition of the foreign workers, the Government announced to rescope two Skills Assessment Pilots to provide onshore migrants with fast-tracked skills assessments, free employability assessments, and access to further training to improve their employment prospects.

Furthermore, the budget introduces a mechanism for the Mutual Recognition of Qualifications which will ensure students from India and Australia will have greater certainty that the qualifications they attain will be recognised by both countries. 

Pathways for Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) (SC-482) short-term stream visa holders to permanency 

The short-term stream TSS visa holders currently have no pathway lead to permanency. This makes them “permanently temporary”. To end this issue, the budget removes the restrictions so that TSS visa holders on the short-term stream can access to permanent residence pathways through the Employer Nomination Scheme (SC-186) visa. The government will also remove the limit of one onshore renewal for the short-term stream TSS visa.

Increasing in visa application charges  (VAC)

It is no surprise that the government will increase the VACs 1 July 2023. This budget suggests the VACs will increase by 6% to 40%.

For example, The VAC of student visa (SC-500) , will be increased by $65, from $650 to $715 and a working holiday visa, will be raised by $130 from $510 to $640.  The VAC of the Business Innovation and Investment Programme (BIIP) will be surged by 40%. The Pacific Engagement Visa and Pacific Australia Labour Mobility scheme will not be affected by the fee hike.

The government committed to use the $665 million raised from fee hikes over five years to improve visa processing times and the visa processing systems.

Direct pathway for New Zealand citizens to acquire Australian citizenship

Apart from the above measures, on 22 April 2023, the Albanese government also announced a direct pathway to Australian citizenship for New Zealand citizens living in Australia. Currently, New Zealanders need to first apply for and be granted a PR visa (such as SC-189 (New Zealand stream)) in order to be eligible for Australian citizenship application. From 1 July 2023 onwards, New Zealand citizens who have been living in Australia for four years or more will be eligible to apply directly for Australian citizenship instead. 

These changes apply to New Zealand citizens holding a Special Category (SCV) (SC-444) visa who arrived in Australia after 26 February 2001. Protected SCV holders will continue to be eligible to apply directly for Australian citizenship. As a result of the above changes, the SC-189 (NZ stream) will be permanently closed to new applicants on 1 July 2023.


The changes to existing migration laws, regulations and policies announced in the budget are just the beginning of the redevelopment of the entire Australian immigration systems. With the recent review commissioned by the government which found the system was “complex, inefficient and inflexible”, a long-awaited restructuring of the existing system is excepted. 

In the midst of such an uncertainty, we strongly recommended those who intend to migrate to Australia to act quickly, keep abreast with the changes of Australian migration news and engage a registered migration agent (RMA) to manage your case.  An experienced RMA can definitely save you time and money on your migration journey. FortuneChance Migration Advisory is registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (“OMARA”) in Australia. Based in Brisbane, Australia, we are trusted by many onshore and overseas clients, in particular Hong Kong.  We believe our expertise and knowledge accumulated over the years in Australian migration can cope with and assist you to accomplish your goal of migrating to Australia.  Please contact us using WhatsApp +852 9775 4826 or email to visa@fortunechance.com.au for booking a consultation or inquiry. 

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