Newsletter 179

Vocational Education and Training

National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Amendment (Strengthening Quality and Integrity in Vocational Education and Training No. 1)
This legislation empowers the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) to promptly intervene in deterring and eliminating non-genuine or unethical Registered Training Organizations (RTOs). It enhances scrutiny on new RTOs aiming to enter the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector and raises the penalties ASQA can pursue against RTOs for significant violations of the Act. The Lower House debated and approved this Bill on 14 February 2024.

Exit tax to increase 

Passenger Movement Charge Amendment Bill 2024 
This legislation modifies the Passenger Movement Charge Act 1978 to implement a measure outlined in the Australian Government’s 2023-24 Budget. The measure involves raising the passenger movement charge, a tax levied on individuals departing Australia for another country, regardless of whether they return to Australia.

Under this Bill, the per-person rate of the passenger movement charge increases from $60 to $70 for those departing Australia for another country on or after 1 July 2024. However, individuals departing with tickets sold or issued before 1 July 2024 will still be subject to the previous charge of $60.

The Bill successfully underwent deliberation and approval in the Lower House on 14 February 2024.

State and Territory nominations for January 2024

The Department’s website now reflects the recent update containing the count of nominations submitted by State and Territory governments for subclass 190 and subclass 491 during the month of January. The figures for the nominations made by each State and Territory government between 31 December 2023 and 31 January 2024 are as follows:

 Visa Subclass  ACT   NSW   NT   QLD   SA   TAS   VIC   WA  
Skilled Nominated visa (subclass 190) 
22  26  3  121  9  49  254  443 
Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 491) State and Territory Nominated 
 9  683  50  55  131  28  75  295 

Further information such as the total number of nominations made by State and Territory governments from 1 July 2023 to 31 January 2024 can be found on the Department’s website 

Mobility Arrangement for Talented Early-professionals Scheme (MATES) 

The Talented Early-professionals Scheme (MATES), operating under the Migration and Mobility Partnership Arrangement (MMPA) between India and Australia, is a newly established initiative. MATES offers Indian university graduates and early career professionals a chance to reside and work in Australia for a maximum duration of two years, allowing them to secure employment and valuable experience in their respective fields. The scheme allocates 3000 spots for primary applicants each program year, and these primary applicants can apply to bring dependents. Dependents will be granted work rights and will not be included in the annual cap.

The scheme has no set timeframe for commencement. 


MATES will be open to Indian nationals who: 

  • are aged 30 or younger (inclusive) at the time of application; 
  • have not previously participated in MATES; 
  • have proficient English language skills (overall IELTS or equivalent score of at least 6, with a minimum score of 5 for each of the four parts); 
  • have graduated within 2 years from an eligible educational institution at the time of application; and 
  • hold a qualification (Bachelor’s degree or higher) in one of the following: 
    – renewable energy 
    – mining 
    – engineering 
    – Information Communications Technology (ICT) 
    – artificial intelligence (AI) 
    – financial technology (FinTech) 
    – agricultural technology (AgriTech).  

Further information regarding this Scheme can be found on the Department’s website and in the Minister’s media release 

ImmiAccount system maintenance – payment functionality 

The Department is scheduled to conduct routine system maintenance on Friday, 16 February 2024, from 7 pm to 9 pm (AEDT), impacting payment functionality in ImmiAccount. While you can still initiate, modify, and attach documents to a Visa or Citizenship application, making payments or submitting applications may not be possible during the maintenance period.

Review of integrity and governance in the administration of regional processing arrangements 

On July 31, 2023, the Hon Clare O’Neil MP, Minister for Home Affairs, announced the appointment of Mr Dennis Richardson AC to lead the review on the integrity and governance in the administration of regional processing arrangements, known as the Richardson review. This assessment took place from August to October 2023.

The review concentrated on two primary aspects:

  1. Evaluation of the Department of Home Affairs’ existing procurement and contract management procedures, with a specific emphasis on the garrison and welfare services contract.
  2. A targeted examination of media assertions related to past regional processing contracts

The unclassified report was released on 12 February 2024, the report and the Government’s response can be found here 

Second addendum to the 11th edition of the Administration of the Immigration and Citizenship Programs paper released 

The Department has released the second addendum to the eleventh edition of the Administration of the Immigration and Citizenship Programs paper (the Administration Paper). This document, designed to enhance comprehension of Australia’s Immigration Program amid evolving global conditions, has been updated to reflect the latest information.

The second addendum serves as an extension to the current eleventh edition and its initial addendum, offering refreshed statistics and details concerning the management of Australia’s immigration program. The data has been updated to encompass the period until the conclusion of Quarter 2 in the 2023-24 program year, specifically as of December 31, 2023.

Migration Strategy

The Australian Government has taken significant strides in reshaping Australia’s migration system, as detailed in the Migration Strategy unveiled on December 11, 2023. To realize the goals outlined in the Migration Strategy, the Government is implementing eight key actions, supported by 25 new policy initiatives, in addition to existing commitments. These reforms aim to better align Australia’s migration system with economic prosperity and security objectives.

75 years of Australian Citizenship

Celebrating the 75th anniversary, over 6 million people from 200 countries have become Australian citizens since 1949. From July 1, 2023, to December 31, 2023, there was a 13% increase in citizenship by conferral applications finalized compared to the same period in 2022. In December 2023, there was a 14% improvement in the average processing time for citizenship application decisions compared to December 2022. Out of 42,447 applications submitted between July 1, 2023, and December 31, 2023, 15,937 applications were approved under the new direct pathway to Australian citizenship for New Zealand citizens.

Stronger Humanitarian Program

The 2022-2023 Refugee and Humanitarian program were fulfilled with 17,875 visas granted, and the 2023-2024 program has been expanded to 20,000 places. As of December 31, 2023, 12,937 Subclass 851 Resolution of Status (RoS) visas were granted, providing a permanent visa pathway for Temporary Protection Visas (TPV) and Safe Haven Enterprise Visas (SHEV) visa holders.

Addressing Skill and Labour Shortages

Since July 1, 2023, over 26,000 new applications for temporary skilled visas have been received. There are 34 Aged Care Industry Labour Agreements in effect as of January 5, 2024. Designated Area Migration Agreements in effect increased by over 90% as of December 31, 2023, compared to 2022. By December 31, 2023, 13,073 Pacific Australia Labour Mobility Scheme (PALM) visas were granted, and from July 1, 2023, to December 31, 2023, 122,388 Working Holiday Maker visas were granted.

Visitor Visas Supporting Tourism

There was a 13.3% increase in Visitor visa holders compared to 2022. From July 1, 2023, to December 31, 2023, there was a 40% increase in Visitor visa application lodgement and a 28% increase in finalizations compared to the same period in 2022. The Department’s management of Australia’s immigration program is designed to anticipate and respond to changes in the international environment, benefitting workers, businesses, and all Australians.

The Administration paper as well as key highlights can be found on the Department’s website 

New Commissioner Jobs and Skills Australia 

Professor Barney Glover AO, has been appointed as the Jobs and Skills Commissioner, he will commence his five-year term in April 2024.  
He will become the first substantive Commissioner under JSA’s amended legislation, passed last year.  

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