In the wake of the Federal government’s 2020-21 budget, there was negligible commentary about the new policies and funds for Australia’s migration program. What direction is the Morrison government taking Australia’s future migration program?

The Government plan for the return of a huge migration intake

Permanent migration is back up to its pre-pandemic levels, 160,000 visas planned for 2020-21. And net overseas migration has been planned for a return to historical high levels, over 200,000 by 2023.[1]

The Morrison Government targets temporary foreign workers for permanent residency

The Morrison government are targeting the huge pool (2 million plus) of temporary foreign migrants in Australia to fill up their permanent migration program. There is a large increase in partner visa places. Thousands of foreign students use the partner visa route to obtain permanent residency.

Partner and family stream places are increasing from 47,732 to 77,300 for 2020-21, comprising almost 50% of permanent migration.[2] The low-level English literacy skills of temporary migrants already in Australia will require more funding for English language services at a cost of $121.1 million.


In the recent decade, Australia’s permanent migration program has gone through significant changes. In last years program, 65% of permanent grants were provided to temporary migrants already in Australia. For the next financial year, permanent migration is being downgraded to accommodate foreign migrants with low level English literacy skills.


[1] Australian Government, ‘Budget 2020-21’ (scheme=AGLSTERMS.AglsAgent; corporateName=Department of the Treasury, 2020) <> [accessed 7 October 2020].

[2] Australian Government.

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