With its strong economy, high standard of living and quality health care and education systems, Australia has long been a popular destination for migrants. Is the Covid-19 pandemic about to change that?
Australia has managed the Covid-19 crisis well
The state of Victoria is currently battling a spike in cases, but community transmission in other states, such as Western Australia and South Australia, is almost non-existent.
Compared to countries like the UK, the US and Spain, Australia has managed the pandemic exceptionally well. At the time of writing this, the US and UK have over 11,000 and 4,000 cases per one million residents respectively. Australia has around 400 cases per million, according to the reference website Worldometers.
There’s no doubt about it, Australia has followed the lead of its next-door neighbour New Zealand and attempted to suppress the virus to the point of extinction in most states and territories.
Will Australia recover quickly from the Covid-19 fallout?
Obviously, the fewer cases a country is battling, the better its economic recovery will be. When people can move around with confidence, they can spend more and stimulate the local economy, which in turn creates more employment.
In the case of Western Australia, Deloitte Access Economics partner Noel Richards told ABC News that the state is likely to recover faster than other states due to the strong price of iron ore, its top commodity.
“Whether the miners believe these price gains are sustainable and therefore pull the trigger on some projects is really the critical question,” he explained.
“That’s where we could see some bigger projects being unlocked, and that obviously creates a lot of activity through the economy in new jobs, spending that flows through the economy.”
Federal, state and territory Governments are also doing their bit to get things moving again and boost jobs with initiatives like the HomeBuilder scheme designed to bolster the construction industry.
Will it be difficult to migrate to Australia in future?
There’s no denying the economic contribution immigration has made to Australia over the years.
A report published in 2015 by the Migration Council states that Australia’s projected population will be 38 million by 2050 and that migration will contribute a whopping $1,625 billion to the country’s GDP.
“Overall, by 2050, each individual migrant will on average be contributing approximately 10 per cent more to Australia’s economy than existing residents,” the report notes.
If we look at the healthcare sector for a moment, at some GP clinics, 90% of doctors are from overseas.
There’s no way Australia can flip a switch and go from needing millions of migrants to requiring none. That won’t happen. What may happen is that demand for overseas workers within certain industries will either decline or increase due to the Coronavirus pandemic, and occupation lists will likely be updated to reflect this.
The point of the skilled migration program is to plug skill gaps which can’t be filled locally and that will continue to be the case.
As for family visas, it’s unlikely there will be any major changes there.
But borders are closed…
You can’t currently enter Australia unless you’re a citizen or permanent resident, or you have a travel exemption.
This isn’t a plot to keep migrants out; we’re in the midst of a public health emergency and restricting the movement of people has been key to Australia’s success so far.
International education is Australia’s third-largest export industry. It’s worth more than $32 billion to the country’s economy. The decision not to allow international students into Australia for the start of the 2020 second semester will not have been taken lightly.
We’re certain that as soon as it’s safe to do so, restrictions will gradually start to ease.
There are also lots of highly skilled temporary residents stuck outside Australia because they were offshore when borders were closed. Some of these people travelled overseas for holidays and funerals, leaving their belongings behind in Australia.
As things improve, we hope that international students and temporary residents are among the first to be allowed back in.
Future employment prospects
Australia has an ageing population and although the Government is encouraging more Australians to pursue careers in the healthcare sector, it’s likely there will still be skill shortages in this area.
The tech sector is likely to thrive. There has been a lot of talk about cyber security in recent weeks, with the Australian Government pledging to invest $1.35 billion in the industry over the next decade. This program is likely to create over 500 jobs.
Then there are the skilled occupations that will simply always be in demand, such as plumbers, electricians, engineers, mechanics and teachers.
If you want more insight into what occupations Australia needs, keep an eye on the Traffic Light Bulletin which is produced by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment. It flags occupations which could be removed from Australia’s skilled occupation lists, as well as roles that might be added or transferred from one list to another.
Current migration program settings remain in place
The Department of Home Affairs has indicated that current migration program planning numbers will remain in place for now.
The number of permanent skilled and family visas is capped at 160,000 annually.
This figure doesn’t include temporary visa holders, such as students and workers on TSS 482 visas.
You can still lodge visa applications
Australia’s borders are closed; its visa system is not.
It’s important to remember this. You can still lodge a visa application and Case Officers are still processing visas.
There have been processing delays across some visa subclasses, but they mainly relate to offshore temporary applications. Obviously it doesn’t make sense to direct resources to processing visas for applicants who won’t be able to enter Australia until restrictions ease.
We’re still seeing visa grants come through for partner visas and onshore applicants moving from one visa to another.
The sooner your application is in the system, the sooner it will be processed. Even if you need to wait for borders to open before you get an outcome, you’ll be first in line when it happens.
Start planning your visa pathway
Whether you’re a graduate living in Australia, a temporary resident wanting to apply for permanent residency, or you’re currently living and working in another country entirely, it’s never too early to start exploring your visa options and planning the next step.
Occupation lists, Government application charges and visa subclass types can – and do – change with very little notice. Global pandemic aside, if you’re eligible to apply for a visa now, it makes sense to get yourself into the system and wait.
The information displayed on these pages is intended to provide a general overview of some Australian visa types. It is not a substitute for tailored, professional advice relating to your own personal circumstances.
There are dozens of Australian visa subclasses; we refer to only a narrow selection here.
Migration policies and regulations change frequently. We are not responsible for any errors or omissions relating to the generic information supplied here.
You should always seek up-to-date advice from a Registered Migration Agent or refer to the Department of Home Affairs website prior to lodging an application.