Virginia, US
Last week’s controversial Federal Budget included the release of the 2014–15 migration planning levels, through which the Federal Government seeks to achieve savings of more than AUD 300 million over five years by modifying the size and composition of the permanent migration program.
 
Despite this, the Government appears committed to maintaining the largest permanent migration intake since 1945, with 190,000 places allocated to the 2014–2015 migration program. With its continued focus on the skilled stream, which comprises approximately 67 per-cent of the total program, some welcome news for employers was the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection’s announcement of a ‘reprioritisation towards employer-sponsored visas’ and an additional 1,000 places for the permanent employer sponsored program.
 
The family reunion categories also received a boost with additional places allocated to the Partner, Child and Contributory Parent visa categories, although unfortunately at the expense of the non-contributory parent and ‘other family’ categories with reductions of 750 and 35 places respectively. These categories received a further blow with the announcement of the cessation of new applications for the non-contributory parent and other family categories, comprised of the Carer, Aged Dependent Relative, and Remaining Relative visas. There has been no confirmation from the Department of Immigration and Border (DIBP) as to when this is likely to happen.
 
The humanitarian program has been set at 13,750 places with a minimum of 11,000 places to go to offshore visa applicants and 1,000 to the ’Women at risk’ subclass. Less welcomed however, was removal of federal funding through the Immigration Advice and Application Scheme (IAAAS) for particular onshore asylum seekers.
 
Border security enhancements and other funding
 
Savings of over AUD 360 million will be achieved over four years through the closure of nine detention centres in Australia as well as by renegotiating and consolidating offshore pro-cessing centre service provider contracts.
 
In turn, border protection will receive an AUD 480.5 million boost with the establishment of a new ‘Australian Border Force’ from 1 July 2015 that will combine the border functions of the DIBP and Australian Customs and Border Protection.
 
Attracting international students remains a focus, with funding of more than AUD 1.3 million over four years to be provided to the Student visa program to expand streamlined visa processing arrangements to students enrolled in particular Advanced Diploma level Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses. This boost to Australia’s international VET sector is projected to increase revenue by an estimated $6.7 million over three years from 2015–2016.
 
Other budget announcements include:
 
  • Removal of DIBP ’industry outreach officers’ from 1 July 2014; 
  • Increased funding to expand offshore biometrics testing which is currently operating in 20 countries; and 
  • Signing of a reciprocal Work and Holiday agreement with Greece for young adults aged 30 years and under.
 
 
MARN 0004980