2024 Australian Visa Changes: What You Need to Know About the Latest Reforms

In the latter part of 2023, the government revealed its plan to overhaul the immigration system, with several anticipated changes set to come into play this year. Here's the essential information you should be aware of.

by Barinder Singh Saini

In the latter part of 2023, the Australia government revealed its plan to overhaul the immigration system, with several anticipated changes set to come into play this year. Here’s the essential information you should be aware of.

Introduction: 2024 Australian Visa Changes

Welcome to our comprehensive report on the forecast Australian visa changes for 2024. The Alban administration has released a strategy plan to change the country’s migration system, which includes several new pledges. Everything you need to know about the imminent changes in the Australian visa environment, from language exams to age limitations, is right here.

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New Visa Pathways and English Language Requirements:

In response to the migration strategy, the government is set to implement multiple changes in 2024, focusing on temporary skilled migration and international education. This includes the introduction of a new “Skills in Demand” visa, stricter English language requirements for student and temporary graduate visas, and the replacement of the current Temporary Skill Shortage visa with a new four-year temporary skilled worker visa. These changes aim to offer workers more flexibility and provide pathways to permanent residency, all under the 2024 Australian visa changes.

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Impact on Skilled Migration and Working Conditions:

The Australian government is introducing a new “Skills in Demand” visa in late 2024, replacing the current Temporary Skill Shortage visa. This four-year temporary skilled worker visa aims to offer more flexibility for workers to change employers and pursue permanent residency.

The new visa will offer three pathways. The first pathway is for highly skilled migrants earning at least $135,000 in non-labor roles, ensuring faster processing times. The second pathway is for temporary skilled migrants in occupations identified as in short supply. The TSMIT was raised to $70,000 in 2023 and will be indexed annually based on the wage price index. Additionally, the government plans to introduce a third pathway for lower-paid workers with essential skills, with consultations expected to begin in the first half of 2024.

Elevated Language Proficiency Requirements and Revamped Student Visa Criteria:

The Australian government’s migration strategy for 2024 focuses on international students and graduates, aiming to enhance the skill level of students and reduce exploitation in the workforce. To achieve these objectives, the strategy introduces several changes to student visas:

  1. Increased English Language Requirements:
    • Starting in early 2024, applicants for a student visa will need to achieve a higher International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score of 6.0 (up from 5.5) or an equivalent proficiency in English, such as the Pearson Test of English (PTE). The required test score for a temporary graduate visa will also increase from 6.0 to 6.5. These changes aim to elevate the quality of education and mitigate potential workplace exploitation.
  2. Introduction of Genuine Student Test:
    • The migration strategy will implement a new “Genuine Student Test” for all international students, replacing the existing Genuine Temporary Entrant requirement. This test aims to encourage genuine student applications and deter non-genuine students whose primary intention is to work rather than study. It is anticipated to be launched in early 2024.
  3. Student Visa Processing Priorities:
    • The government has established new processing priorities for student and student guardian visa applications, concentrating on scrutinizing those from “high-risk providers.” Additionally, efforts will be made to strengthen the student visa integrity unit in the Home Affairs Department and to remove unscrupulous providers from the system in 2024.

Upcoming Reforms to Australian Skilled Worker and Graduate Visas:

Starting from mid-2024, the Australian government is set to make impactful changes to the temporary graduate visa program, aiming to “strengthen and simplify” its structure. The key changes include the introduction of an age limit for visa applicants, reducing the maximum age from 50 to 35 years. Furthermore, the initial tenure of temporary graduate visas will be shortened to two years for bachelor’s or master’s degrees by coursework, and three years for a master’s degree by research. Additionally, students located in regional areas will have the opportunity to apply for a second visa, with the duration varying from one to two years based on their specific location.

These adjustments align with the government’s strategy to decrease the number of long-term temporary visa holders, providing new parameters for eligibility and duration to streamline the temporary graduate visa process.

Recent government announcements have outlined several significant changes to Australia’s visa system:

1. Phasing Out of COVID Concessions: The government has initiated the phasing out of COVID-related concessions, including the Pandemic Event Visa, which was established in 2020 to allow temporary visa holders to remain in Australia during the pandemic. The process began in September 2023, ceasing new applications for the visa as of February, with the goal of bringing migration numbers back to pre-pandemic levels. Additionally, uncapped working hours for international students will also be discontinued.

migration numbers back to pre-pandemic levels. Additionally, uncapped working hours for international students will also be discontinued.

2. Introduction of the Pacific Engagement Visa (PEV): A new visa program, the Pacific Engagement Visa (PEV), is set to be introduced to facilitate the migration of up to 3,000 individuals from participating Pacific countries and Timor Leste to Australia as permanent residents. The program will utilize a randomized ballot process for applicant selection, with successful candidates required to meet specific criteria, including securing employment in Australia.

3. Priority Processing for Protection Visa Applicants: In response to a review identifying exploitation of the refugee visa system, the government announced a $160 million package aimed at bolstering the protection visa system. A portion of this fund, $54 million, will be allocated to establish real-time priority processing of Protection Visa applications to mitigate abuse of the system.


What is the government hoping to achieve with its migration strategy?

The government aims to reduce net overseas migration (NOM) to near-pre-pandemic levels by focusing on issues of temporary visa holders, permanent residency pathways, and the reduction of exploitation of migrants. The strategy also emphasizes improving working conditions and boosting the economy.

What changes are expected in the employer-sponsored visa category?

The government is introducing a new four-year temporary skilled worker visa, the “Skills in Demand” visa, to replace the existing Temporary Skill Shortage visa (Subclass 482). This revamp aims to offer workers more flexibility to change employers and provide pathways to permanent residency. It will be split into three pathways based on various criteria, including earnings and occupation demands.

What changes are being made to student visas? 

 Several changes are expected for international students, including stricter English language requirements, the introduction of a Genuine Student Test, processing priorities based on education provider ratings, and strengthening and simplifying temporary graduate visas, including age limits and reduced visa durations.

What COVID-related concessions are being phased out?

 The government plans to discontinue the Pandemic Event Visa and uncapped working hours for international students as part of its strategy to bring migration numbers to near-pre-pandemic levels.

What new visa is being introduced for Pacific migrants?

 The Pacific Engagement Visa (PEV) will enable up to 3,000 nationals from participating Pacific countries and Timor Leste to migrate to Australia each year as permanent residents, with a randomized selection process and specific qualification criteria.

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