POST 47: AUSTRALIA’S PERMANENT MIGRATION PROGRAM OUTCOME (2019-20).

Summary.

There is some bright news in the recently released permanent visa outcomes ending June 30, 2020. The number of permanent visas granted dropped to 140,366 for 2019-20.[1] This resulted in about 20,000 less than the planned level of 160,000. This was due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. [2] However, granting 140,366 permanent visas is too high given the high unemployment and economic situation in Australia.

Most permanent visas go to temporary visa holders already in Australia.

Chart 1 below shows the total yearly and long-term average permanent visa outcomes going back over 36 years. The average is about 123,000. The permanent program started to escalate in the mid 1990’s around the period when the temporary visa program was implemented.

The number of temporary visas began to rise quickly due the Australia Government offering foreign students a permanent visa linked to there chosen course of study in Australia. Another draw factor was the Government inserted the provision of automatic work rights on arrival in Australia. Close connections have evolved between permanent and temporary migration as temporary migrants have increasingly sought to apply for permanent settlement in Australia.[3]

Chart 1: Permanent visa outcome (Australia 1984-85 to 2018-19).

(Source; Australian Government, 2020.[4])

Australian Governments’ migration policies are beginning to unravel.

Over 90,000 of permanent visas (64.5%) where issued to temporary migrants already in Australia.[5] The temporary migration program has created a huge headache for the Federal Government. Consecutive Governments’ mismanaged this program allowing free rein for temporary workers to enter Australia, whilst rejecting sensible policy options to cap and manage temporary visa numbers.

Today there are over 2 million temporary visas in Australia (June 30, 2020). Competing with unemployed Australian residents in an extremely tight labour market. It is difficult to predict how long this figure will stay so high.

There are several law impediments halting the Government scale down the number of temporary workers in Australia. There has been significant growth in dubious visa applications. A huge number (333,500 foreign nationals) have managed to obtain bridging visas.[6] Many of those have applied for judicial review of the refusal or cancellation of a visa.

The demand for the family visa (permanent) stream has ballooned to over 214,000 applications in the pipeline for 2019-20.[7] There was also significant rates of visa refusals in the partner category (includes prospective spouses) and parent category. Dubious applications in the family stream are difficult for the Australian Government to clear. There are Migration Act provisions, which may prohibit the Government from limiting the number of partner visas.[8]

The partner visa backlog is not going to go away soon. Australia’s migration intake is predominantly from developing and underdeveloped countries in the Asia Pacific Region. Indicating the escalation in the partner visa applications may be driven by the prospect of moving to an advanced economy such as Australia?

References.


[1] Abul Rizvi, ‘What Does the 2019-20 Migration Program Outcome Tell Us about Future Migration?’, Independent Australia <https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/what-does-the-2019-20-migration-program-outcome-tell-us-about-future-migration,14307> [accessed 15 September 2020].

[2] Australian Government Department of Home Affairs, ‘2019 – 20 Migration Program Report- Year to 30 June 2020’, 2020 <https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/research-and-statistics/statistics/visa-statistics/live/migration-program> [accessed 10 September 2020].

[3] Harriet Spinks and Elsa Koleth, ‘Population Growth: What Role Does Immigration Play?’ <https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/BriefingBook43p/populationgrowth> [accessed 29 December 2018].

[4] Australian Government Department of Home Affairs, ‘Australian Migration Statistics’, 2020 <https://data.gov.au/data/dataset/australian-migration-statistics> [accessed 16 September 2020].

[5] Australian Government Department of Home Affairs, ‘2019 – 20 Migration Program Report- Year to 30 June 2020’.

[6] Australian Government Department of Home Affairs, ‘2019 – 20 Migration Program Report- Year to 30 June 2020’.

[7] Australian Government Department of Home Affairs, ‘2019 – 20 Migration Program Report- Year to 30 June 2020’.

[8] Abul Rizvi.

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