Federal Budget 2022

On 25 October 2022, the Australian Labor Government announced its first budget in over a decade.  Amongst other things, the Albanese Government allocated a significant portion of the Budget to Immigration.  The Federal Budget focused on Parent Visas and Skilled Visas, with Parent Visas almost doubling and Skilled Visas receiving a substantial increase.

Increased funding

This Albanese Government’s stance is contrary to the Morrison Government’s stance, with the Labor Government restoring some of the migration program funding after it was previously cut.  The new migration program funding budget will come in at $576 million, which is still $300 million less than what was cut in March of 2022 by the Morrison Government.  Citing this increase, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese stated that there will be a “substantial” increase in funding for the Department of Home Affairs.

Previous Immigration announcements

The Australian Government had previously announced increases in migration program numbers for this financial year to:

  • 195,000 places in total (up 35,000)
  • 34,000 regional places (up 9,000)
  • 31,000 state and territory places (up 20,000)
  • an additional $42.2 million to accelerate visa processing, resolve the visa backlog and raise awareness of opportunities for high-skilled migrants in Australia’s permanent Migration Program
  • extended relaxation of work restrictions for student visa holders and secondary training visas holders to 30 June 2023
  • priority processing of offshore skilled migration applications and on-hand NZ Stream Skilled Independent SC 189 applications
  • The Australian Government has provisioned $36.1 million to be invested in visa processing specifically increasing staff capacity by 500 within FY2023.

New Immigration announcements

In its 2022 Budget, the Australian Government announced:

  • an additional 500 places in the aged care training pathway for Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme participants 2022–23
  • a new Pacific Engagement Visa with up to 3,000 permanent migration places for nationals of Pacific Island countries and Timor-Leste, in addition to the existing permanent migration program
  • additional funding for 3-year Temporary Humanitarian Concern Visas (subclass 786) for Ukrainians and extended access to Medicare for a 12-month period for Ukrainians, including their immediate family members, who hold a Bridging Visa E
  • $600,000.00 in additional funding in 2022–23 for the Ukrainian Community and Settlement Support
  • Nil visa application charges for international teams, officials and official carers participating in the Virtus Oceania Asia Games 2022.
  • The Australian Government predicted an extra $935 million in tax revenue and $487 million for the provision of extra services such as school places or language programs
  • $12.6 million of funds over two years were allocated to a pilot program to help Temporary Visa Holders experiencing family and domestic violence

Available Skilled Visas for 2022/23

The Budget announced the following numbers for skilled visas:

  • Employer sponsored – 35,000
  • Skilled independent – 32,100
  • Regional – 34,000
  • State and territory nominated – 31,000
  • Business innovation and investment – 5,000
  • Global talent – 5,000
  • Distinguished talent – 300

Jobs and Skills Summit

The increase in immigration funding from the 2022 Federal Budget comes shortly after the Jobs and Skills Summit in early September 2022.  The Australian Government Jobs and Skills Summit took place during 1-2 September 2022 and focused on collaboration to address the challenges and opportunities facing the Australian Labour Market and Economy.  The Jobs and Skill Summit outcomes focused on immediate action to build a bigger, more productive and better-trained workforce to help deliver better wages, jobs and living standards for Australians.

Priorities for the Australian Government

The Ministers announced areas of priority for the portfolio, which we summarise here:

Areas for immediate action

  • Increasing the migration program numbers
  • Improving the visa processing timeframes
  • A proposal for international graduates of Australian universities to be able to work longer in Australia, post-graduation
  • Extending the COVID concessions on student visa holder work rights until 2023, when they will cease.

Areas for urgent further actions

  • Moving away from temporary migration to permanency and citizenship, by developing these pathways.
  • Reassessing the occupation lists to ensure they are fit for purpose
  • Raising Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT)
  • Addressing worker exploitation (2023 priority)
  • Examining industry sponsorship
  • Addressing regional labour shortages.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, the 2022 Australian Federal Budget and the Jobs and Skills Summit 2022 align to ensure that the gaps in the Australian workforce are addressed and able to be filled to satisfy market needs.  This is clearly illustrated by the Federal Budget’s increase in the number of skilled visas.  The additional $576 million over four years will be provided to the Department of Home Affairs for visa processing, which will ensure that more skilled workers enter the country to help support the economy and the gaps in the workforce that were exposed during the pandemic period.

Unfortunately, there was no mention of reforms to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), during a time when the AAT is currently drowning in applications with nearly 30,000 applications currently.

On a positive note, women and Ukrainian refugees seeking asylum are receiving the support they need to establish a new life in Australia.

We now look to the future and raise questions like:

🤔 Does the increase in skilled visas positively impact the job market for Australians?

🤔 Will the issues surrounding the Administrative Appeals Tribunal be addressed by the Australian Government?

🤔 Will the increase in skilled visas appropriately address Australia’s gaps in the workforce, or will they only be a temporary fix?


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